Lodge seems to agree with Wilde, who he even quotes, that ‘Life imitates art’ and this is the background of this short, highly entertaining but also melancholic book. However, the case here is also of art imitating art since the whole plot is woven in a pastiche of ten passages in other books. I have to admit that the ones on Graham Greene, Fr. Rolfe and C.P. Snow fell flat on me – I still have to identify them – because I lack knowledge of the references. On the other hand, the ones on Conrad, Hemingway, Joyce and Woolf scream on the page and are just a delight – a sort of bonus tracks on the book.
Reading it now after so many years makes it particularly interesting because of the historical perspective on the main topic and also because, even with the Reading Room still standing at the British Museum, the whole collection has since then moved to the ‘new’ British Library at King’s Cross. Coming to think of it, that would be a great location for a novel indeed.
Lodge, D. (1965) The British Museum is Falling Down. London: Penguin.
Thanks Ed for the Xmas gift 🙂