“It felt like I had never done it before”: how Sally Rooney wrote again

With her closest friends, she will exchange ideas on climate change, economic inequalities and who broke with whom, all in the same breath. “It would be artificial to try to reproduce a kind of silos that I don’t feel in my real life,” she said.

For Rooney, intimacy and ideology go hand in hand. That is, you cannot fully understand Felix and Alice’s relationship, or that of Eileen and Simon, without understanding their relative positions within the social order around them.

So, yes, she does have opinions on the Dublin housing crisis, but even if she didn’t, “as a novelist,” she said, “I just have to engage with reality. of the housing market, because the characters have to live somewhere. They have to go home, put a key in the door and live.

Rooney thinks it’s an “evasion” to say that she writes just because she’s not good at anything else. (She told the Irish Independent in 2018.) “You don’t have to be really good to try to make a difference in the world,” she said. “You could just be mediocre and try anyway, and I’m not.”

Instead, she’s written a novel that tries to justify not just herself, but novel writing, period.

What comes down, for her – and for Henry James and the Victorians, and even Felix – is an intrinsic and transformative value of the aesthetic experience. “I want to live in a culture where people make art, even if everything else falls apart,” Rooney said. “It gives meaning to my life. “

In “Beautiful World”, one evening, Eileen tells Simon about an exciting scene on the phone in which an imaginary woman takes off all her clothes and he sleeps with her. “I live for the detail,” Eileen told him. “You paint a compelling picture,” Simon said, moments before he had an orgasm.

The two figures, at each end of the line, are rinsed, breathing heavily; perhaps the reader is even feeling something. Because at the end of the world, when there is only one left, we will still be moved, despite everything, by history.

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