Sunday 30 September 2018

Insiders / Outsiders

Insiders out. Outsiders in, ran the header to a review of one of Brookner’s novels. But was she so much of an outsider? Did she not praise the reckless, the feckless, the careless? Did she not promote the riotous lives of the gods of antiquity? Didn’t she reject other, kinder philosophies? Whose side was she on? With whom, ultimately, did she throw in her lot?

The way to proceed, she once told us, was to start as an outsider, briefly to become an insider, and at last to resume the status of an outsider. That way the work got done.

Brookner said that in a review of Edmund White’s biography of Marcel Proust in the Sunday Times in 1999. Outsiders chiefly, sometime insiders too, consummate dandies both. As always Brookner chose her subjects with extreme precision.

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