Cinema in the library
in Alan Hollinghurst
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This chapter analyses the presence of the cinema in Hollinghurst’s The Swimming-Pool Library. It argues that cinema does not have a consistent role in the novel as motif or metaphor but functions instead an element of excess. As such it functions like history in what is a historical novel of gay life, the history that will exceed and foreclose the story’s suspended temporalities. History is the Other to the novel’s enchanted summer, ‘the last summer of its kind there was ever to be’. History is also HIV, ready to spread its appalling blossom through the Utopia of sex beyond book and summer’s end. Like this history, the cinema in The Swimming-Pool Library must be held at bay: it resists integration into the middlebrow poise of the novel and the unruffleable surface of its realist prose.

Alan Hollinghurst

Writing under the influence

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