Saturday 4 November 2017

Fraud: appartements solennels

Mrs Marsh, in Fraud, may not be Brookner, but Brookner has awarded her several Brooknerian tastes. Only three chapters in, and already Mrs Marsh has referred to Proust and Henry James (the famous line from The Ambassadors), and now Baudelaire:
Mes ancêtres, dans des appartements solennels, tous idiots ou maniaques.
One wonders: what do we gain? what does such a line bring to the novel? Not a great deal, in part because it is unreferenced, unexplained. But this is perhaps the point. Brookner is a writer who is very artful, by which I mean full of art. She is also a writer who's exclusive, elitist, but in the best way. She demands: Keep up with me, meet my standards. She isn't going to condescend, she isn't going to make allowances. And we, as readers, are surely grateful for her forbearance.


  1. I feel much the same about Rose Macaulay - one of the things I love about The Towers of Trebizond is that it doesn't explain or condescend, but just sweeps across Europe scattering obscure (at least to me) High Church references as it goes. It's one of my favourite books - not really much like Brookner, but with the same uncompromising intellect.

  2. Many thanks for this. I haven't read Macauley and I'm always grateful for recommendations. My reading can be narrow, and I find it narrowing further as the years pass.


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