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Monday, February 28, 2005

In search of lost lines 



Putting down a copy of Hollinghurst's Booker Prizewinner 'The Line of Beauty' to tune into Radio 4's excellent adaptation of Proust's gargantuan 'In Search of Lost Time' makes me think of the similarities and differences. For a start both are written from the point of view of aspiring writers. Proust's narrator has an obsession with the aristocrats and high society of the Faubourg St-Germain; Hollinghurst's hobnobs with a mixture of Tories, English nobility and haute bourgeoisie. Separated by just under a century both are gay writers; but neither claims to have written a gay novel. Proust because he was most certainly not out; Hollinghurst because he his. Times have changed. But time is the grand design of Proust's work and this rather diminishes Hollinghurst whose lines are those of James, male bodies, cocaine, and generally far shorter than the beautiful but convoluted ones drawn by Proust. Still I enjoyed The Line of Beauty, but not as much as Marcel.

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