Friday 19 February 2021

Incidents in the Rue Laugier reread: the power of Kroll

What are we to make of chapters 10 and 11? The story is over and Brookner's vainly trying to pad things out? Edward visits his shop in London, and a new character, Max Kroll, appears: Mittel-european, his accent both sibilant and cockney, a prototype for Julius Herz in The Next Big Thing or Max Gruber in Falling Slowly? Then the rather studied detail about the books: Elizabeth Bowen, Rosamond Lehmann (for more, see here and here). Then in the next chapter we find ourselves in Eastbourne at the heart of Edward's middle-class family, a world away from Dijon and the rue Laugier. Why? Why all this detail, all this plot? I suggest it's about absence rather than presence: the extended absence of Tyler, a representation of the disappearance he has effected from lives for whom he is the only emotional capital: not just Maud's, but Edward's too.

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