Robert Fraser’s ‘The Quality of the Light’ is a truly intricate and intense work of fiction, embroiling readers in a story where manipulation and confusion run rife as an artist wrestles both with the medium and his own complicated past. Consequences, decision and regret emerge with full force in a novel that readers won’t be forgetting any time soon.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
United Kingdom – Robert Fraser is the writer of an impressive twenty-seven books, many crossing over and challenging distinctions between different genres, disciplines and art forms.
But The Quality of the Light: A Novel in Five Paintings, could be his most provocative yet – as the rocky relationships between art, reality, deception and truth come together under one cover.
Autumn in London, Thatcher’s Britain. As the rooms of the National Gallery echo to strange footsteps, and a bomb explodes in distant Brighton, a young painter receives a bizarre commission from his ailing and obsessive uncle. Gradually the past returns to engulf him, freighted by scenes and personalities he has long hoped to forget. In the year of the creation of the Turner prize, competing schools wrangle over the future of art. Demonstrations disturb the nocturnal city. A royal palace bursts into flames. Who is in charge exactly, and who is manipulating whom?
Set between London and Amsterdam, this is a story of dependence, of love and forgetfulness, of collusion and its consequences, decision and regret. It is at once a comedy of circumstance and a meditation on the tensions between art and reality, deception and truth.
“There are large questions at stake here,” explains the author, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, “questions concerning art and reality, inspiration and exploitation, truth and lies. But I’ve tried to treat these questions with a light touch. The result, I hope, is a book that, while dark in places, contains enough dry humour and quirky reflections to appeal to a wide readership. It’s a story that encompasses the gamut of life, its emotions and experiences – while still giving readers enough room to breathe and form their own opinions: of the situation, the pictures, and the people.”
He continues, “Artistic representation involves philosophical, theological and even political dimensions that do not often receive sufficient attention in literature. With this book, I wanted to tie everything together, while striving for a narrative which is gripping and engrossing.”
‘The Quality of the Light’, from Cranthorpe Millner, will be released on June 8th, 2021.
About the Author:
Robert Fraser is Professor Emeritus of English at the Open University, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Asiatic Society and the English Association. He previously lectured at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana and the University of Leeds under the poet Sir Geoffrey Hill. He then taught for several years at Royal Holloway, University of London, where the college’s famous collection of Victorian paintings inspired his original poetry sequence The Founder’s Gift: Impressions from A Collection, published by the college in 2017. In 2020 musical settings of these poems composed by Mollie Carlyle, Andrew Moore, Sofia Kerroubi Garcia, Peter Bourne, Daisy Henson and Emma Pascoe were performed in the college’s stately picture Gallery in a series of three well-attended public concerts. After Royal Holloway, he was Director of Studies in English at Trinity College, Cambridge, where his former supervisees include Professors in Oxford and Columbia and a High Court judge, and where his endeavours to teach Tragedy converted Alexander Armstrong into one of Britain’s best-loved comedians.
He is the author of twenty-seven published books, including The Chameleon Poet: A Life of George Barker, Spectator Book of the Year for 2002, and Night Thoughts: The Surreal Life of the Poet David Gascoyne which in May 2012 topped the Independent’s chart of new biographies, and also featured on BBC Radio 3’s programme Nightwaves (now Free Thinking). His The Making of the Golden Bough and Sir James Frazer and the Literary Imagination, both commissioned for the 1990 centenary of Frazer’s classic work on myth, featured that year in Radio 3’s The Priest of Nemi, and his book Proust and the Victorians: The Lamp of Memory (1994) featured in 2003 in Radio 4’s In Our Time. He has also published widely on African and Third World literature. Of his 2018 memoir Pascal’s Tears or How Not to Murder One’s Wife, Dr Rowan Williams, Former Archbishop of Canterbury, remarked “It does so much at different levels – simply evoking a very remarkable relationship and a very remarkable person, but then also pushing us up against some of the hardest ethical questions imaginable, always with humanity and humility, with depth but without solemnity.”
2020 saw the publication of his After Ancient Biography: Modern Types and Classical Archetypes, a comparative study of the art of life-writing across several periods. His novel The Quality of the Light is to be published in late Spring 2021. He lives in London and Oxfordshire: when in the former, he teaches biography writing at the CityLit.