Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Posthumous

In retrospect I can say that I never felt more of a man than I did at that moment, on that silent afternoon, before I was put to the test, before my life began and ended.
Altered States, end of ch. 3

The ends of Brookner's chapters, like several of her novels' overall conclusions, don't always work. They strive towards epiphany, at any rate towards 'fine writing'. But sometimes, as here, the pressure forges new thinking. 'Before my life began and ended': how easily this might be applied to other Brooknerians, or indeed perhaps to Brookner herself. She often gave the impression, particularly in interview, that the writing of fiction was a kind of posthumous occupation for her, not quite her real life; it was something she had engaged in only when the real business was over.

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For more thoughts on Brookner's endings, see here.

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