Some properties of fiction
Value and fantasy in Hollinghurst’s house of fiction
in Alan Hollinghurst
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This chapter offers a reading of The Line of Beauty, and a reconsideration of The Swimming Pool Library. It begins with the feeling of inhabiting his novels, where the pleasure and excitement of being within his sentences resonates with the ‘scenes’ of his novels: the rich comfort of being within lucid and solidly imagined spaces, and the complex relation of gay sexuality to that pleasure. The edge given to craftsmanlike sentences, and the alert, desiring gaze around beautifully-made and -furnished buildings, signal what is unusual in Hollinghurst’s relation to tradition. They recognise, the chapter argues, that tradition is constantly estranged by the status of built spaces as property, and the capture of property by the mechanisms of value. Hollinghurst writes during and about the London property booms, structuring the fantasies through which we apprehend our subjectivities and their scenes. This chapter thus supplements a realist moral exploration of the traps of desire and aesthetic pleasure with a reading of Hollinghurst’s modernist attention to the fields of value and fantasy.

Alan Hollinghurst

Writing under the influence

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