Thursday 7 June 2018

The Rules of Engagement: Contiguity

If I were to live the life of an exile I could do so much more comfortably by remaining where I was, surrounded by familiar possessions, my position unambiguous.
The Rules of Engagement, ch. 9

Brookner's novels, as well as falling into phases (I propose the 1980s, the 1990s and the 2000s as reasonably distinct periods: not quite James I, James II and the Old Pretender but just a little along those lines), can be grouped thematically into pairs and groups. The reader who might baulk at the notion of a well-heeled Englishwoman feeling like an exile in the heart of London should read Brookner's previous novel The Next Big Thing about a real exile. The two novels are in communication with one another: it's a kind of auto-intertextuality.


  1. Hello. Good evening. I hope you are having a wonderful 'Brooknerian' summer. I recently re-read 'The Next Big Thing' by Anita Brookner. I must admit that it is one of my favourite novels. The theme of exile and displacement that the main protagonist, Herz discussed in this novel resonates deeply with me.

    There is a beautiful interpretation of Freud's "A Disturbance of Memory on the Acropolis" in this novel if you remember. It moved me to tears. I feel that by reading this book, Anita Brookner has returned a fragment of missing piece within me which I previously thought I shall never find again. You wrote in May 2017 that 'The Next Big Thing' is the best novel to start if one is new to Anita Brookner's writing. I couldn't agree with you more. 'The Next Big Thing' by Brookner and Sebald's The Emigrants (originally published in 1992) are my Desert Island Books.

  2. Good to hear from you. I too love Sebald's work. Brookner was an early Sebald supporter, praising The Emigrants for resurrecting 'older standards of behaviour, making most contemporary writing seem brash and immature'.

  3. Bonjour Dear Brooknerian,

    Ce roman a-t-il été traduit en français ?

    Merci pour vos publications toujours intéressante sur ma Chèr Anita Brookner

  4. C'est gentil d'avoir de tes nouvelles. Je crois qu'il est publié par Fayard sous le titre Les règles du consentement.


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