When his novel The Line of Beauty won the Booker prize in , he spent some of his winnings on revamping it, with the result that it has a new, large sitting room with a lush view out on to a corner of Hampstead Heath. I move towards it excitedly, as if I were the first visitor ever to notice it. Beneath her profile is written her name: Daphne. He smiles, indulgently. But, no. He bought it at auction just as he was finishing the book, by which time Daphne Sawle was every bit as real to him as this fine-boned, turn-of-the-century creature.

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His books meditate thoughtfully on Englishness, class and culture, ageing, desire and inter-racial relationships. They are also notable for their frank treatment of gay sex, and the dilemmas of gay men, whether searching for love, thrills or coming to terms with mortality in the AIDS crisis.

Art, romantic obsession, and money: these are the consuming passions of characters alternately seen as glamorous or comic.

His novels are page-turners, though in no slickly commercial sense. Rather, readers are guided, even at times flattered, by a fine sensibility. Manners is preparing a catalogue of paintings by a Belgian artist who was equally tortured by unrequited love and lust.

The Spell returns to contemporary London and the English countryside for an ensemble piece about affluent gay men in pursuit of happiness. Alex is a middle-aged senior civil servant, belatedly encountering the party scene of dance music and recreational drugs when he meets younger man Danny.

When he discloses his feelings and commitment, a perhaps inevitable romantic disillusionment awaits. This becomes more than a personal conviction, extending out to the increasingly materialist society around them. The leading character is Nick, who has been taken in as a permanent house guest by the Feddens in Notting Hill, the family of a prominent Conservative M.

Nick, a recent Oxford graduate but from a lower social class, is researching his hero Henry James. The novel balances social satire with its tragic dimension.

Given the scale of The Line of Beauty, one might have expected the next novel to be more modest. For others, especially academics and biographers in search of revelations or scandal, it is something to pursue and pore over. It shows again why Alan Hollinghurst is a master of the comic-elegiac novel, and a stylist with a quintessentially English vision, showing us how past actions always intrude into the present.

Dr Jules Smith,


The Swimming-Pool Library

I argue that cinema does not have a consistent role in the novel as motif or metaphor but functions instead an element of excess. 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. A short version of this article appears as a chapter in Alan Hollinghurst: Writing under the Influence, edited by Michele Mendelssohn and Denis Flannery Manchester, , pp. Pornographic films are thus only the potentiation of films in general, which ask us to stare at the world as though it were a naked body. It is a direct attack on the old methods of literary art. We shall have to adapt ourselves to the shadowy screen and to the cold machine. Still, my argument will be that The Swimming-Pool Library, and perhaps the realist novel itself, is not untroubled by cinema.



Plot introduction[ edit ] In London, Will, a privileged, gay, sexually irresistible year-old, saves the life of an elderly aristocrat who has a heart-attack in a public lavatory. Explanation of the title[ edit ] The title has at least three meanings. Finally, Will borrows trashy homoerotic novels from one of the lifeguards at the Corinthian club. The club, then, is a swimming pool library. Plot summary[ edit ] To comply with the Wikipedia quality standards , this book-related article may require cleanup. This article contains very little context, or is unclear to readers who know little about the book.


‘The Sparsholt Affair’: Gay-sex scandal ripples over decades in Alan Hollinghurst’s latest

The first sentence of the Goodreads blurb says it all. Very well written. But ultimately not at all my cup of tea. The style and tone of the two are much different.


The Swimming-Pool Library

Stimpson Credit To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them. Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems; we are continuing to work to improve these archived versions. New York: Random House. The marriage between sex and death in Western literature seems indissoluble. Cries of ecstasy give way to cries of grief.

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