Wit is a quality which I really appreciate in novelists. I don’t mean telling jokes. You get it in James. You get it in George Eliot. This wonderful play of intelligence which I really prize, which often finds things funny in something more serious. That’s something I admire and strive to maintain.
Hollinghurst has a strong, perhaps unassailable claim to be the best English novelist working today. He offers surely the best available example of novelistic ambition squared with the highest aesthetic standards. Where so many fiction writers seem stylish but austere, or full of life but messy, Hollinghurst has his cake and eats it.
Alan Hollinghurst’s opinions on others
Herodotus’s books were named after the Muses, but in Vidal’s a parodic spiral of initiation takes place in which increase in knowledge and experience brings obfuscation and blindness rather than enlightenment.
Julian was also technically interesting in going beyond the I, Claudius autobiographical procedure to an autobiography interpolated and interpreted by records written from other viewpoints. The effect of this was both to intensify the feeling of actuality which is one of the main fascinations of the historical novel, and to create, from the plentiful and contrasting sources available, a historiographical demonstration of the merely partial reliability of such sources.