Monday, May 09, 2005

The Portrait -- Iain Pears

I'm reading Iain Pears new book The Portrait.

It's a long monologue by an artist spoken to an old friend/enemy who is a prominent art critic.

I'm about halfway through and I am really happy with the way pears deals with a lot of the issues surrounding aesthetics that have very little to do with art itself--rivalry, in-groups and out-groups, fashion, Oedipal feelings, salability . . . some of the things I'll end up writing about here quiote a bit, I suspect. The best thing is that it's presented with a generous (but far from non-judgemental) understanding.

A short and fast read, to boot.

Pears is the author of a series of art history mysteries and of Instance of the Fingerpost (mystery set amongst the scientists and spies of seventeenth-century England. Like Stephenson's Quicksilver, but better written) and of Dream of Scipio, which I haven't been able to finish yet but which seems to be about the parallel declines of a) Roman Culture b) Medieval Christianity c)the French Third Republic and d) Us.

Anyhow, so far I can give this one a strong recommendation.