You said that reading the novel A RoomWith A View first made you aware of what fiction can do, in what way? I think again, like when I teach it, I'm very aware of it being a young's person novel, I think to have its largest effect it's best to read it as a teenager or asa young person because it's quite schematic in its way but the lesson it taught me when I was a kid, that it's possible not to know oneself and not to know oneself for one's whole life I think it's a very important one, also struck me watching it, even though.
You know, it looks antique, and the manners, Icould hear people laughing at these holdover from Victorian manners, likeEdwardian manners, but the problem with intimacy I don't think is solved, you know, neither in England nor America despite, you know, sexual revolution,it's still very, very hard to be honest with oneself, to know oneself, and to beintimate with people.
I don't think that's a problem that disappears, so Istill feel quite struck by it, even though the structure of it, thearchitecture is so old.
As it in your acknowledgments to On Beauty, you write, as I mention, that it's a homage to Forster but you say 'Forster to whom allmy fiction is indebted' Well, probably just because of that early intervention, if you ask me, I've much rather say, you know, all of my fiction is deeplyindebted in Dostoyevsky, but it just wouldn't be true I was thinking George Eliot you could get away with But even with Eliot I read later, you know, I think sometimes as the writer you are a little in hostage to these these early influences and so Ithink I was quite heavily influenced but then as you get older you, you know, Iteach him every year, and you know, mainly I have arguments against him now, but still this fondness.
Why do you teach him? Because I think he's a very goodlesson to young writers He's technically really extraordinary andeven writers from a completely different end of the spectrum like Virginia Woolf,for example, who was friendly with him but had quite a lot of contempt forhim as a person, but whenever he sent her a novel in manuscript, she was writingher diary, she was always impressed, you know, by the technical achievement and the way the emotion moves in that movie, it's thesame in the book, your sympathies continually shifting even for Cecil, I think more in the book perhaps than in the film, you feel this sympathy for him, this understanding that he's trapped in himself, one of my students very cleverly pointed out that he's a hipster, he's a proto-hipster, all he cares about is aesthetics, he lives a kind of — lifeis an aesthetic phenomena to him, it has to be the right food, the right music, and when he says 'Those Honeychurchs, always talking about what's for dinner and what the mates get,' but, you know, he's probably a hipster, he wants to live an aestheticized life completely, and he is the one who makes me laugh most.