Gentlemen’s Gentlemen

David Gilmour

Novels dealing with childhood memory are frequently said to be ‘Proustian’. Those describing the decline of an aristocracy are likely to be labelled ‘Lampedusian’. The people responsible for these ugly, usually unsuitable adjectives are sometimes reviewers but more often the culprits are publishers. A successful novel from last year was described on the cover as reminiscent of Lampedusa, chiefly because it took place in a part of Southern Italy (as it happens, the wrong part).

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[*] Sansevero, translated by Marguerite Waldman, Bernard Wall and William Riviere, is published by Quartet (2 vols., 636 pp. and 430 pp., £6.95 each, August 1987, 0 7043 0034 6 and 0 7043 0035 4). The Dolls’ Room, translated by Deborah Donner, is published by Deutsch (352 pp., £11.95, April 1988, 0 233 98198 5).