So seeing The Folding Star in a second-hand bookshop for cheap was an easy decision to make. Edward Manners is a thirty-something tutor who goes to Belgium to teach two very different young boys — Luc Altidore and Marcel Echevin. Unfortunately, Edward falls desperately in love with Luc, making teaching him a problem. Obsession is a big word that we tend to throw around a lot to describe people who have more than a passing interest in something. This novel, however, totally redefines what it means to be obsessed by something.
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The Folding Star is a novel by Alan Hollinghurst. The novel is the story of a gay English man, Edward Manners, who, disaffected with life, moves to a town in Flanders where he teaches two students English. One, Marcel, is plodding and plain while the other, Luc, is gifted and, to the protagonist, extremely beautiful. The novel also deals with Manners' emerging relationship with Marcel's father who curates a museum of symbolist paintings by Edgard Orst modelled on Fernand Khnopff and James Ensor.
Edward has an affair with a young foreigner named Cherif who falls deeply in love with him, but Edward, in love with Luc, can never really return his affection. We see the same pattern in the novel's recounting of Edward's youthful affair years earlier when he was even younger than Luc with Dawn, a handsome but not classically beautiful youth who later dies tragically.
Edward soon became bored with him, and even now he can only gin up much feeling about Dawn by giving his past affair and the subsequent death of his old love a high literary treatment modeled after the tradition of the pastoral elegy. Like his forerunner von Aschenbach in Thomas Mann's Death in Venice who obsesses over the beautiful Tadzio , and the artist Orst, Edward is a lover of beauty, not a lover of people, and people's beauty is fleeting.
Thus the disappearance of Jane Byron, Orst's beautiful model, and later of Luc, Edward's version of Tadzio, represents how cruel life can be to those who worship at Beauty's altar. Many of the characters Manners, Orst, Marcel's father, Luc are marked by obsession with others.
The past continually intrudes into the twilight world Hollinghurst evokes, dragging Manners back to England for a time. Two major characters, both objects of romantic obsession, mysteriously disappear.
The long-lost Jane Byron, beloved model for Orst, had swum out to sea at Ostend , Belgium, decades ago and was never seen again, leaving the artist with a lifelong obsession for painting her image. The beautiful youth Luc, obsessive love interest of the protagonist Manners, also disappears. In the book's enigmatic conclusion, Luc is last seen looking out from one of many photographs of missing children on a salt-spattered bulletin board at the beach in Ostend.
Thus, like Byron, he ultimately ends up existing only within a frame, and his disappearance is poetically linked to the "shiftless" North Sea waves at the famous beach. It was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
Or as an expanded Death in Venice It is an immense pleasure to read, [filled with] funniness and poetry, handled with amazing sensitivity and accuracy. Dry witticisms intersperse sweaty couplings. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Folding Star First edition. Hidden categories: Webarchive template wayback links.
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The Folding Star
At the beginning, his narrator, the stuffily named Edward Manners, arrives in an unnamed Belgian city and takes the number three tram in pursuit of a pretty boy who is then claimed by a third party, his female lover. A general sense of disaffection has brought Manners here, to earn his living teaching English to two teenage boys; Marcel, fat and asthmatic, and Luc, a blond, louche beauty with whom he becomes obsessed. Luc has two friends the Trio , one a woman who may or may not be his girlfriend, the other a well-hung boy at the school from which Luc has been mysteriously expelled. Marcel's father, Paul, is the curator of the work of a minor Symbolist artist named Orst, whose obsession with a married actress became the subject of many of his paintings, notably a triptych.
Book Review: The Folding Star by Alan Hollinghurst
He taught English at Oxford University until before taking up the position of deputy editor of the Times Literary Supplement, where he worked until Hollinghurst's work is rated for its deft combination of eros and aesthetics. He writes in a high literary style, full of inventive and careful descriptions and with a fine ear for the nuances of class and language. At the same time, the uninhibited homosexuality of his protagonists and the contemporary gay scene is written with a straightforward and absolutely no-holds-barred honesty; the compelling mix of austerity and mischievousness in his work has delighted critics and readers alike. The positive critical reception to his work is reflected in the laurels he has picked up; he made the Granta Best of Young British Novelists list, and has twice been shortlisted for the Booker, for The Folding Star and The Line of Beauty , the year he won. The dearth of female characters - until In the Line of Beauty - has, however, left some wondering if he couldn't or simply wouldn't write them.
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Edward Manners — thirty-three and disaffected — escapes to a Flemish city in search of a new life. Almost at once he falls in love with the seventeen- year-old Luc, and is introduced to the twilight world of the s Belgian painter Edgard Orst. Do not continue if you intend to read this book unspoiled. One of the stylistic elements is the partition of his novels into different parts, normally three, which allow the writer to jump forwards in time or change narrator to a another individual. Rather than giving a continuation of the central narrative or providing an interesting alternative, the middle section slowed the pace right down. As a result, this part is the weakest part of the novel. On the flip side, a stylistic element I enjoy is the overabundance of gay male characters, especially when the character inhabits indoor spaces such as bars.