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Losers

Frank Kermode, 5 September 1985

Family and Friends 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 187 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 224 02337 3
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... So far as the evidence of five novels goes, Anita Brookner has one basic theme, which she varies with considerable and increasing technical resource. All five books are quite short, and all have some of the qualities of what James called the beautiful and blest nouvelle, since they are intensive in plot and on the whole refuse the temptation to broaden into novels ...

Looking for magic

Dinah Birch, 14 September 1989

Lewis Percy 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 261 pp., £11.95, August 1989, 0 224 02668 2
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Sexing the cherry 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Bloomsbury, 167 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 7475 0464 4
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Fludd 
by Hilary Mantel.
Viking, 186 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 670 82118 7
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... an indulgence. No novelist has offered sterner resistance to the glamour of magic realism than Anita Brookner, meticulously recording the particularities of everyday compromise. Nevertheless, she too has thought deeply about the need to rewrite fairy stories. Her new novel is a searching study of innocence, and the limitations of innocence. Lewis ...

Dreams of Avarice

Patrick Parrinder, 29 August 1991

A Closed Eye 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 255 pp., £13.99, August 1991, 0 224 03090 6
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Underwood and After 
by Ronald Frame.
Hodder, 246 pp., £14.99, August 1991, 0 340 55359 6
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Lemprière’s Dictionary 
by Lawrence Norfolk.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 530 pp., £14.95, August 1991, 1 85619 053 6
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... told that they don’t always enjoy it. In fiction the rich and the rest of us can change places. Anita Brookner’s new novel shows Harriet, who is married to a rich businessman much older than herself, travelling out of London on the Brighton line. The suburban houses by the tracks strike her as ‘poignantly homely, beautifully unassertive’. She ...

Missing Mother

Graham Robb: Romanticism, 19 October 2000

Romanticism and Its Discontents 
by Anita Brookner.
Viking, 208 pp., £25, September 2000, 0 670 89212 2
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... says modern art.’ In her discreetly original study of Romanticism and Its Discontents, Anita Brookner quotes Alfred de Musset’s satire, Lettres de Dupuis et Cotonet (1836-37). Dupuis and Cotonet are two literal-minded provincials who spend 12 years trying to find out what Romanticism is. At first, it seems to refer to plays which ignore the ...

Ventures

Susannah Clapp, 10 November 1988

The Suzy Lamplugh Story 
by Andrew Stephen.
Faber, 198 pp., £10.95, October 1988, 0 571 15152 3
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... the idea for this book, and the publishers were free to say no. Andrew Stephen had one defender in Anita Brookner – but the effectiveness of her attack on his attackers was diminished by its appearing in the Observer while that paper was ending its serialisation of the book. He also mounted his own defence, or attack. The day after he had been ...

Fatalism

Graham Hough, 16 July 1981

A Start in Life 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 176 pp., £5.95, May 1981, 9780224018999
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Rhine Journey 
by Ann Schlee.
Macmillan, 165 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 333 28320 1
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The Sure Salvation 
by John Hearne.
Faber, 224 pp., £6.50, May 1981, 0 571 11670 1
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Beloved Latitudes 
by David Pownall.
Gollancz, 140 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 575 02988 9
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... having made a small but definite act of defiance against a spiritually tyrannical brother. Anita Brookner’s heroine ends as she began, writing a chapter on Eugénie Grandet in her book on Balzac, having lost a lover and acquired the duty of looking after a selfish and dependent father. The wrong choices, in the men’s novels are violent and ...

Wallflower

Anthony Quinn, 29 August 1991

Varying Degrees of Hopelessness 
by Lucy Ellmann.
Hamish Hamilton, 184 pp., £13.99, July 1991, 0 241 13153 7
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Slide 
by James Buchan.
Heinemann, 135 pp., £12.99, June 1991, 0 434 07499 3
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Alma Cogan 
by Gordon Burn.
Secker, 210 pp., £13.99, August 1991, 0 436 20009 0
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... student, prim, gauche, improbably starry-eyed, impossibly self-obsessed, a junior version of the Anita Brookner wallflower (i.e. not yet prepared to consign herself to the sad margins of singlehood). But whereas the high-minded Brookner woman is given to maundering over Balzac or Flaubert, Isabel derives her vicarious ...

Ladies

John Bayley, 4 September 1986

An Academic Question 
by Barbara Pym.
Macmillan, 182 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 333 41843 3
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A Misalliance 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 191 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 224 02403 5
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... as they are, as enigmatically unfulfilled (unlike Pym, they did not write novels), and, like the Brookner heroine in Look at me, taking the same involuntary pleasure in the dreary little comedies of daily routine. Pym was a bit despondent about this. ‘It was supposed to be a sort of Margaret Drabble effort,’ she wrote to Philip Larkin, ‘but of course ...

Bewitchment

James Wood, 8 December 1994

Shadow Dance 
by Angela Carter.
Virago, 182 pp., £9.99, September 1994, 1 85381 840 2
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Flesh and the Mirror: Essays on the Art of Angela Carter 
edited by Lorna Sage.
Virago, 358 pp., £8.99, September 1994, 1 85381 760 0
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... usually reliable, has an odd essay about all the ways in which Angela Carter is not like Anita Brookner; trapped by this initial division, her piece becomes a stutter of differences, as she grinds her chalk in one hand and smoothes her cheese in another: ‘Unlike Hélène Cixous, Anita Brookner is not a ...

Art and Revolution

Norman Hampson, 18 December 1980

Jacques-Louis David 
by Anita Brookner.
Chatto, 223 pp., £25, November 1980, 0 7011 2530 6
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... In what her publishers claim to be the first monograph in English on David, Dr Brookner explains that she sees her book as a ‘preparation’ for more specialised studies at present under way in France and America. It is intended ‘for the general reader whose eye has been arrested by David’s images and whose mind has been haunted or irritated by their supernal energy and conviction ...

Travelling

Elaine Jordan, 21 April 1983

The Viaduct 
by David Wheldon.
Bodley Head, 176 pp., £5.95, March 1983, 0 370 30519 1
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Rates of Exchange 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 310 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 436 06505 3
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Milena 
by Maggie Ross.
Collins, 280 pp., £8.95, April 1983, 0 00 222602 2
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No Place on Earth 
by Christa Wolf, translated by Jan van Heurck.
Virago, 110 pp., £6.95, March 1983, 9780860683636
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Look at me 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 192 pp., £7.50, March 1983, 0 224 02055 2
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Not Not While the Giro and Other Stories 
by James Kelman.
Polygon, 207 pp., £3.95, March 1983, 9780904919653
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... able to write oneself into a new way of life, more amusing than the old: in this sense (which is Anita Brookner’s sense) writing is a penance for not being lucky in love but also a way of being livelier than life. Words also preserve memory ‘which would have vanished utterly had he not enclosed it in a fortress of words’ (Christa Wolf). Writing is ...

Dirty Jokes

Julian Symons, 13 September 1990

Brief Lives 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 217 pp., £12.95, August 1990, 0 224 02747 6
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Deception 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 208 pp., £12.95, September 1990, 0 224 03000 0
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Homeboy 
by Seth Morgan.
Chatto, 390 pp., £12.95, August 1990, 0 7011 3664 2
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... then, how we managed to keep up a sort of friendship for so long.’ The first half-dozen lines of Anita Brookner’s novel suggest the tone, straightforwardly realistic, and tell us the principal subject, the relationship between flamboyant upper-middle-class Julia and Fay, whose father was a cinema manager. The opening chapter’s ten pages enlarge on ...

The Great Exhibition

John Sutherland, 6 September 1984

Empire of the Sun 
by J.G. Ballard.
Gollancz, 287 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 575 03483 1
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Enterprise Red Star 
by Alexander Bogdanov, translated by Charles Rongle, edited by Loren Graham and Richard Stites.
Indiana, 266 pp., $22.50, June 1984, 0 253 17350 7
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Hotel du Lac 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 184 pp., £7.95, September 1984, 0 224 02238 5
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Conversations in Another Room 
by Gabriel Josipovici.
Methuen, 121 pp., £7.95, August 1984, 0 413 55930 0
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An Affair on the Appian Way 
by Michael Levey.
Hamish Hamilton, 219 pp., £8.95, August 1984, 0 241 11315 6
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... out an unwritten novel with the Craig Rainian subject of a Martian, miserably stranded on Earth. Anita Brookner should break the reader in more gently. Her fourth novel, Hotel du Lac, begins at the highest pitch of her now acclaimed ‘style’: ‘From the window all that could be seen was a receding area of grey. It was to be supposed that ...

Submission

Robert Taubman, 20 May 1982

A Chain of Voices 
by André Brink.
Faber, 525 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 571 11874 7
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How German is it 
by Walter Abish.
Carcanet, 252 pp., £6.75, March 1982, 0 85635 396 5
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Before she met me 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 183 pp., £6.50, April 1982, 0 224 01985 6
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Providence 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 183 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 224 01976 7
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Getting it right 
by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
Hamish Hamilton, 264 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 241 10805 5
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... a saucer in the other, a signet ring just visible on the finger beneath the saucer’. Ruth, in Anita Brookner’s first novel, was in love with a professor with ‘a neutral, faintly resigned presence’: but Kitty’s case is even more hopeless. Maurice is not only English, but specifically upper-class Gloucestershire; and Kitty loses him to a girl ...

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill: What Writers Wear, 27 July 2017

... who might be given the same treatment: Barbara Pym, beneath whose twinset beat a passionate heart; Anita Brookner with her neatly tailored outfits and the fine-spun auburn up-do exuding poise and sadness; and all the others who in various ways inhabit their ...

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