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Misreading Anita BrooknerAestheticism, Intertextuality and the Queer Nineteenth Century$
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Peta Mayer

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620597

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620597.001.0001

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The Flâneur in Undue Influence (1998)

The Flâneur in Undue Influence (1998)

(p.160) Chapter Four The Flâneur in Undue Influence (1998)
Misreading Anita Brookner

Peta Mayer

Liverpool University Press

This chapter takes protagonist Claire Pitt’s speculative imagination, walking and misreading to read Undue Influence through the figure of the flâneur. Tracing the walking journeys undertaken by Claire Pitt and Martin Gibson, it presents a literal and literary map of the novel. It argues against Michel de Certeau’s assertion that maps constitute procedures for forgetting by demonstrating how Brookner’s women’s walking texts have been largely unrecognised. Drawing on Charles Baudelaire’s theories of Romantic imagination and walking, Harold Bloom’s narrative of intertextual influence and the rhetorical figure of peripeteia (reversal), this chapter recasts the relationship between Claire and Martin as the relationship between ephebe and precursor poet. In staging the performance of the flâneur, it rereads Undue Influence through the ‘revisionary ratios’ of Bloom’s narrative of influence—clinamen, tessera, kenosis, daemonisation, askesis, apophrades. It argues against the heterocentric presumption of Brookner’s reception in which personal and romantic failure is the dominant narrative to tell about the novel. By freighting emphasis on women’s creativity, imagination, artistry and subversion and finding new ways to read intersubjective relationships, this chapter underscores value and industry of the woman writer and women’s writing.

Keywords:   Harold Bloom, Charles Baudelaire, flâneur, anxiety of influence, misreading, Romantic imagination, peripeteia, literary maps, ephebe, women’s writing

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