A quote from Oscar Wilde in Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World crystallises the novel’s central study of adopted guises: ‘Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.’ The book’s protagonist, underappreciated New York artist Harriet Burden, dons a trio of masks when she puts forward her art as the work of three different male artists. But many other masks emerge in Hustvedt’s telling, which takes the form of Burden’s personal notebooks as well as accounts from her assorted friends, family, and critics, all compiled by the fictitious editor I.V. Hess.
Siri Hustvedt's 'The Blazing World'
The Blazing World
by Siri Hustvedt
Sceptre, $29.99 pb, 379 pp, 9781444779639
Doug Wallen is a freelance arts writer based in Beechworth, Victoria.
If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.
Leave a comment
Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.
NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.