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This review is taken from PN Review 148, Volume 29 Number 2, November - December 2002.

VALEDICTION: FORBIDDING MOURNING CHRISTINE BROOKE-ROSE, Invisible Author: Last Essays (Ohio State UP) £39.95

In 1990 Christine Brooke-Rose concluded an interview in PNR with the wry comment: 'Sometimes I'm made to feel an old has-been.' But anyone tempted by this remark to offer alms for oblivion would have proved a little previous. In the next decade Brooke-Rose produced four of her most distinctive, original and challenging novels - Textermination (1991), Remake (1996), Next (1998) and Subscript (1999) - and became the subject of more sustained critical attention than had previously been the case, especially in Sarah Birch's full-length study Christine Brooke-Rose and Contemporary Fiction (1994). Now, beset by age and infirmity, she offers us what she herself calls her 'last publication'. One suspects, of course, that Texas conservation will prevent such self-inflicted textermination; Brooke-Rose's archive at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin could well contain valuable material that will, one day, emerge into print. But this may happen without the author's imprimatur. The statement of finality, the acknowledgement of physical fragility, made in the introduction to Invisible Author gives the book the weight of last words, of a farewell to a life's work. Such a farewell is deeply regrettable; but if it has to be, one could wish for none better than this book, since it effects a rich conflation of Brooke-Rose the novelist and Brooke-Rose the critic that is both rewarding in itself and that casts light on the whole of her work. If it is an intimation of invisibility, it glows like a fading ...


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