Saturday, August 19, 2006

Loss of Marbles

Last week The Telegraph, no less, treated us to a juicy instance of literary ageism.

Reporting on the Booker long list, Arts correspondent Nigel Reynolds tells us: ...the most remarkable is Nadine Gordimer.

And why is she so remarkable? Is it because, as he says, her long life has been devoted to writing about the moral and psychological traumas of her native South Africa? Apparently not. The most remarkable thing, it seems, is the fact that, at 82, she is almost certainly the oldest writer ever to make it into the count-off for the prize.

Perhaps, one thinks, he means merely that this is remarkable in view of the ageism rife in the contemporary literary world. But no: it would seem he is parroting the sentiment he quotes later, expressed by 'a Booker insider': Obviously it's remarkable that Nadine Gordimer is on the list at 82, and that he's absorbing without question the implication that writers at such an age should have lost their marbles, rather than have accumulated the kind of wisdom we ought to envy.
Post a Comment