It isn’t that Harriet’s indignation about sexism in the art world is misguided, it’s just that to function successfully as the emotional centre of a novel, she would have needed to possess more common humanity. It’s a stretch for the reader to know how to feel about a woman so fervent she “pushed her art out of her like bloody newborns” and so highbrow she sang her kids “odd, repetitive Philip Glass-like songs”.
In this respect, The Blazing World sets out as it means to go on: without much care for the reader’s capacity to engage. As a whole, the novel takes the shape of a book by IV Hess, a professor of aesthetics who decided to write about Harriet’s work shortly after her death. This conceit sees Hustvedt opening the novel with a desiccated scholarly introduction and then following it with a series of excerpts from Harriet’s notebooks, interspersed with the “written statements”, interviews, transcripts, and less anchored communications of people in Harriet’s circle.
Very interesting book - amazon.com