Monday 1 January 2018

Viennese Brookner

References to the Austrian capital are scattered through Brookner's novels. The following is probably not a full list:
  • Hotel du Lac: Edith Hope has Viennese ancestry. She goes with her English father to the Kunsthistorisches Museum to see 'a picture of men lying splayed in a cornfield under a hot sun'. This is a puzzle. It sounds like Bruegel's Harvesters (which isn't in Vienna, though the museum houses several of the artist's surviving pictures of the seasons). See an earlier post here.
  • There's a Viennese background to that most Freudian of Brookners, A Family Romance, Toni Ferber hailing from (where else?) Berggasse. Later her granddaughter Jane visits the city, drops into Demel's, eats Sachertorte, finds it disappointing. Demel's is extant, but like many such establishments now a touristy Lacanian simulacrum of its probable former self. Getting inside looks to be no mean feat: one would have to elbow one's way through a crowd of snapping gawpers, and there's surely a waiting list months long. See an earlier post here.
  • George Bland, in A Private View, knows Vienna: the Tintoretto Susannah and the Elders sheds unwelcome light on his own private view of Katy Gibb.

  • Incidents in the Rue Laugier: Max Kroll, a minor character, one of Brookner's exiles, was a bookseller in old Vienna.
  • The Next Big Thing: Herz remembers visiting Vienna - in particular the modernist Wittgenstein Haus, one of his 'artistic delights'.

Pictures of my recent visit to Vienna can be found on Twitter @brooknerian. Feel free to like, retweet and, if you don't already, follow. Happy New Year!

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