Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Ornamental Things

Brigid Brophy makes Anna, the protagonist of The Snow Ball, note that she would like to be a sort of perfection, not a person, “an ornamental thing, but not a work of art…simply a work of craft, a decoration, something very contrived, very highly wrought, that wouldn’t touch the heart at all.” This is a fair description of what the book itself is—and exquisitely so—with its polished prose, cool comedy, and deep sadness in parts. Anna’s dread of death, Ruth’s fear of sex and life, and the  extremes between the artfully composed Anna and the shapeless Anne and Tom-Tom—all are deftly pictured poignancies. Throughout the book, shapelessness, haphazardness and spontaneity are associated with life and wealth, which dance and revel at the ball, while art only leans on the parapet and watches, sunk in gloomy conversation.
           If a work of art is simply a work of craft of the highest possible refinement, then The Snow Ball is a work of art. 

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