Le regole dellimpegno By Anita Brookner

Astute, perceptive. I reel in amazement at her ability to recognise and describe the emotions and the motivations of her characters. Particularly when I recognise these in myself. An astonishing appreciation of human nature and behaviour. Read through it pretty rapidly to find out what was going to happen. Now I need to go back and read it slowly and take time to enjoy the beauty of the writing. Literature Fiction, Art From my archives - Well written! Good! Literature Fiction, Art Well, all Anita Brookner is good. But this one ended on a particularly depressing note. It wouldn't do to read two Anita Brookners in a row. Literature Fiction, Art Ah, what it is to have been born too soon. You get to witness all the benefits and bonuses you long for being enjoyed by the generation that comes after your own, but you don't get to experience any of them first hand. This is the story of two friends, both born too soon. It is not a happy novel but, as per Anita Brookner, it is beautifully told. Literature Fiction, Art Beautifully written meditation on female friendship, desire, marriage & aspiration Literature Fiction, Art


Betsy ed Elisabeth sono due giovani donne nell’Inghilterra degli anni Settanta, un’epoca in cui a Londra, come in tutte le capitali europee, la ribellione dilaga e la giovinezza sembra per la prima volta una conquista permanente.
Amiche di scuola che andavano a prendere il tè l’una nella casa dell’altra, e si spedivano cartoline quando andavano in vacanza coi genitori, Betsy ed Elizabeth vivono il loro tempo in una maniera totalmente differente.
Orfana di entrambi i genitori, Betsy è stata accudita da una zia alta e magra e così incolore da ispirare, nella famiglia di Elizabeth, una malcelata diffidenza.
Leale con tutti, aperta nei confronti del prossimo in modo smisurato, Betsy ha il tipico comportamento di chi ha avuto un’infanzia mutilata. È l’orfana che, con il suo slancio eccessivo, la sua bramosia tradisce le ferite ricevute.
La zia ora è morta e le ha lasciato diecimila sterline, e con quei soldi Betsy è andata a Parigi a «completare la sua formazione», in realtà a vivere l’esistenza bohémienne della gioventù ribelle parigina. È tornata a Londra con gli occhi splendenti di felicità, in compagnia di un ragazzo dalla bellezza scultorea, uno di quegli uomini per i quali si finisce col pagare sempre un prezzo alto.
Elizabeth ha sposato un uomo di ventisette anni più vecchio di lei. Lo ha fatto perché suo padre se n’è andato via di casa e lei avrebbe detto di sì a chiunque avesse potuto in qualche modo sostituirlo. O forse perché, in cuor suo, ha sempre desiderato un matrimonio di assoluto decoro, una di quelle convivenze in cui non vi è pericolo di inclinazioni e sentimenti troppo complicati.
Il risultato è che, con una vita coniugale così decorosa e stabile, così priva di slanci ed emozioni, Elizabeth è scivolata nella clandestinità con una gratitudine, un sollievo e una naturalezza di cui non si riteneva per niente capace. Ogni giorno, dopo aver svolto le mansioni domestiche senza lamentarsi, Elizabeth incontra il suo amante, un uomo alto e biondo, con una corporatura piuttosto massiccia, il tipo d’uomo che, si percepisce subito, ama il piacere più di ogni altra cosa.
Romanzo che ruota attorno a un irrisolto dilemma della vita sentimentale - se sia preferibile, cioè, una fedeltà fatta di rigide regole morali o una vita che non disdegna le gioie dell’adulterio -, Le regole dell’impegno conferma l’impareggiabile talento dell’autrice di Guardatemi nell’illuminare i più riposti angoli dell’animo femminile. Le regole dellimpegno

Anita Brookner Ý 8 Read & Download

The Rules of Engagement is the story of Elizabeth and Betsy - two women who have known each other since childhood. They lose contact, but then reconnect in their 30s/40s when both have become unexpectedly single. Although, the inside cover presents the book as being about the two women, I think it is really about Elizabeth and how she feels navigating middle-age as a single woman with no children. Everything is told from Elizabeth's point of view and she psychoanalyses Betsy a lot, but who are we to say whether her descriptions are correct or not.

As with many of Brookner's novels, not much happens in The Rules of Engagement...or I suppose things do happen - sickness, adultery, death - but everything is told in Brookner's calm, precise style. I love the way Brookner writes and I like the ruminations of the main character, but this book was a little too amorphous to me. I found the ending to be unsatisfying. It's not that I wanted things wrapped up in a bow, but it all felt a bit rushed and blah. Even so, there are some insightful descriptions.

I found this quite a funny observation since London weather can be pretty crap. Elizabeth is on a walk with a group of college students and their leader, Mr. Ward. She thinks:
The weather had deteriorated sharply: there was a scudding wind - our version of the tramontane, the fohn - the wind that sets the teeth on edge and inclines one to murder. By the time I reached Baker Street Station my eyes were watering and my hair unkempt. The students, two Indians, two Japanese, and a Nigerian, seemed disenchanted, as I was, by the peculiar pall that hangs over a London Sunday...Mr. Ward, his evident good intentions surrounding him like the attributes of sainthood, was engaging them politely in the sort of conversation they were in no mood to appreciate. When we set off we must have resembled a couple of dutiful parents with a family of disgruntled teenagers.

and later she escapes, The whole group watched as the taxi carried me away. I felt ashamed, as if I had let them down, but in fact they were merely envious. I've defintely been in the position of both Elizabeth and the students.

And then this rather sad thought:
I also learned that nature, that great benefactor, exacts its punishment for all the bounties hitherto enjoyed, without a thought of worth or entitlement, and that all life ends badly. 'Peacefully, in his sleep,' one reads, but what of the preceding hours or minutes? ...I also learned that it is the gods who are in control, and that their pagan indifference can be visited on any life, no matter how correctly that life has been lived. I have come to believe that there can be no adequate preparation for the sadness that comes at the end, the sheer regret that one's life is finished, that one's failures remain indelible and one's successes illusory. I also believe that there occurs a moment of renunciation, when one is visited by the knowledge that time is up, that there will be no more time, or that if a little time remains it will be lived posthumously, and with a sense of pure loss. This is also, conversely, an invitation to play Russian roulette with one's life and affections while one has the time, to take chances, to defy safety. But of course one no longer has the time to do that. The ability- the capacity - to take chances has been lost. All is subject henceforth to the iron decree of mortality. Literature Fiction, Art Bad, bad, bad. A book spanning over a few decades and ignoring EVERYTHING happening not in the world, but even in the UK - as if the seventies and thatcherism never happened. Unbelievable. Not to mention Digby's end which was criminally stupid. I regret the time lost with this book and the fact that I remember it after more than five months. Literature Fiction, Art I'd like to give Ms. Brookner, whose rather expansive body of work has heretofore flown under my radar, the benefit of the doubt. I'm hoping that my first encounter with her work (The Rules of Engagement, her 22nd novel) was a flukey bad choice, and that everything else she's written is deserving of the accolades heaped upon her. From my limited perspective, however, I'm not terribly optimistic that this pseudo-19th century poseur of a novel isn't indeed representative of the whole. After reading this, arguably the dullest novel i've read this year, I'm sure not eager to find out.

Much of my problem with the book is with its style: it tries to convey the gravity and importance of classic literature of the nineteenth century (although set primarily between the late 1960s through the early 1980s) but lacks the substance (e.g. rich plotline, indelible characterizations, subtle wit) of the books it tries so desperately to emulate. It drowns in a sea of monotonous (exact, exactingly syntacted) prose, most of which provided by its main character, an insufferably slight, completely unsympathetic woman named Elizabeth, who lives in London. She is our narrator, and comprises probably 90% of Rules... content. She attempts to compare and contrast her life with that of her childhood friend (also named Elizabeth, but calls herself Betsy), particularly after their school days when they embark upon their adult lives. We can infer from the monologues of Elizabeth the narrator that she is unsatisfied with her marriage to a man 27 years her senior and, predictably, skeezes around with another married man. The other Elizabeth, her friend Betsy, ends up skeezing with him, too, after the first Elizabeth ends the affair subsequent to a tragic circumstance. (yawn)

Not only is the plot tawdry and humdrum, but Elizabeth's narration is just runs on, and on, and on, seemingly ad nauseam, with what is intended as emotional handwringing and introspection, but is so frightfully verbose and repetitive, it becomes nearly impossible to stay awake through. Consider our Elizabeth, who gives us really no indication whatsoever in her limited, rather vapid conversations with the other characters in the book, would have the intellectual wherewithal to toss around 50 cent words like suzerainty, mephitic, concatenation, clandestinity, anodyne (too many times to count...must be Ms. Brookner's favorite word), and animadverting (just to name six words at random). We're supposed to buy that this woman conveys coherent thoughts using words such as these, when she she can barely elevate a dialogue with her fellow characters beyond two-word call-and-response. Uh-uh; I don't buy it for a second. It only conveys to me that Ms. Brookner wrote this with haughty affectation and aim to emulating other far superior works rather than working on imbuing her characters with some semblance of empathetic, human qualities the reader could relate to. Everything the narrator bothers to convey to us rings either false or irrelevant. Tack on a superfluously maudlin ending, and you've got yourself a 270-page complete waste of the readers' time.

Reviewing this reminds me of the old childhood arithmetic axiom: Anything x Zero = 0.Or to put it into this context: Overly precise and verbose English prose x Zero Meaningful Substance = 1 (Regretfully Proffered) Star. Literature Fiction, Art My second Anita Brookner novel (also read Hotel du Lac several years ago). I don't know if there will be a third.

Maybe Brookner is tapping into a British sensibility/sense of decorum, but Elizabeth Wetherall (great stiff-upper-lip sort of name), the narrator of this novel (and, to a lesser extent, the narrator of Hotel du Lac), seems chilly, too abstracted from her own emotions, critical, overly cerebral. (Maybe I consider myself too cerebral, so I want the books I read to be an escape from this quality.) This was very much a novel of thoughts, with little dialogue, scenes, or described action—a quality that, I found, discouraged engagement and identification with the story.

No doubt Brookner is a skilled writer: the caliber of her writing was never in question. Main characters Elizabeth and Betsy were two women born slightly too soon (as Elizabeth notes) to eschew traditional roles and fully engage in the women's movement, and in women's relatively new sense of independence in the 1980s. I appreciated Brookner's exploration of this group of women caught in between. And the author's long, self-contradictory sentences mimicked well the ruminative nature of the mind.

The final chapters of the novel, dealing with the events around Betsy's death (which comes as no surprise and is not a device of plot, as Brookner references it in the beginning of the book), were difficult to read, in their acute portrayal of loneliness and of considering one's own mortality. These keen and harshly truthful passages were for me the most poignant in the book.

Throughout the novel, however, harsh truths and bleak observations were not tempered with with warmth or affection, ruminations were not counteracted with action or sensory description, and this is what, ultimately, made the novel off-putting for me.

Literature Fiction, Art This is a compelling examination of morality and relationships from the perspective of a woman born too early for her time. This is the first book I've read by this author - and it was her 22nd book! I will explore more of her work for sure. Literature Fiction, Art