Summer
The unmissable finale to Ali Smith's dazzling literary tour de force: the Seasonal quartet concludes in 2020 with Summer.PRAISE FOR SEASONAL: 'The novel of the year is obviously Autumn' Observer on Autumn 'Masterful... Winter is utterly original' New York Times Book Review on Winter'Luminous, generous, hope-filled... A dazzling hymn to hope. Ali Smith is lighting us a path out of the nightmarish now' Observer on Spring'Smith's seasonal quartet of novels is a bold and brilliant experiment' Independent

Summer Details

TitleSummer
Author
ReleaseAug 6th, 2020
PublisherHamish Hamilton
ISBN-139780241207062
Rating
GenreFiction, Novels

Summer Review

  • Gumble's Yard
    January 1, 1970
    Comparison to elements in previous books:SA4AAll of the books feature the firm SA4A (Smith, Ali, Quartet, Autumn) which has served as a symbol of the threat of faceless and almost unknown multinationals. In Autumn, we see SA4A as a quasi-police private security firmIn Winter Art works for their entertainments division to enforce copyright on emerging artists. In Spring book Britanny works for them at a UK Immigration Removal Centre.In SummerRobert's mother's door is forced by bailiffs from their Comparison to elements in previous books:SA4AAll of the books feature the firm SA4A (Smith, Ali, Quartet, Autumn) which has served as a symbol of the threat of faceless and almost unknown multinationals. In Autumn, we see SA4A as a quasi-police private security firmIn Winter Art works for their entertainments division to enforce copyright on emerging artists. In Spring book Britanny works for them at a UK Immigration Removal Centre.In SummerRobert's mother's door is forced by bailiffs from their power branch and we are also told the operate a government approved service to busload homeless people down to LondonCover ArtworkA wrap around cover featuring a David Hockney picture of a seasonal tunnel of trees: respectively: Autumn - “Early November Tunnel”, Winter - “Winter Tunnel with Snow” and Spring“Late Spring Tunnel”Summer has “Tunnel 2”Past DecadesA concentration on the modern day resonances of a historic 20th Century decade: Autumn - 1960s, Winter - 1980s, Spring - 1920s. Summer features the 1940s. Female artists from he decadeAutumn has Pauline BotyWinter has Barbara HepworthSpring has Katherine MansfieldSummer has the Italian (and post war immigrant to London) filmmaker Lorenza Mazzetti.Interestingly whereas the other artists all died tragically young - Boty of cancer, Hepworth of a fire in her studio, Mansfield of TB. Mazzetti lived until 92 - dying this very year (2020). However she (as we find in the book) avoided an even earlier tragic death in the Holocaust.Art influencing charactersActual works of art of the artist figuring in the book and sparking a character’s imagination: In Autumn Elisabeth looks at a book of Boty’s paintings; in Winter Art’s mother views a Hepworth sculpture (I believe “Nesting Stones”) owned by his father; in Spring Richard visits a gallery to view Dean’s work. 
In SummerCharlotte watches Lorenza Mazetti's "Together" Contemporary eventsOf course the key idea of the Quartet is the coverage of immediately contemporary events woven through the text - but each book has a concentration on key overarching themes: Autumn - the Brexit vote, Winter - Trump's election, Spring - the issue of borders (both the Irish border and those erected to deter migrations)Summer of course has COVID-19 and the continuing hostile immigration regime. It even (given it was the week prior to the book going for advanced proof printing) has George Floyd’s tragic death. A link between past political actions from the crucial decade and contemporary events This was a crucial part of the concept of seasonality that Smith set out to explore when she commenced the quartet the concept that our real energy, our real history, is cyclic in continuance and at core, rather than consecutive and how closely to contemporaneousness a finished book might be able to be in the world, and yet how it could also be, all through, very much about stratified, cyclic time In Autumn very deliberate parallels are drawn between the Profumo scandal and the Brexit vote – the concept of the lies of those in power. 

In Winter, the environmental and climate-change activism of Charlotte (Art’s ex-girlfriend) and the refugee involvement of the modern day Iris are linked directly to the Silent-Spring inspired environmental activism of the commune where Iris lives many years before and her role in the Greenham Common protests. In Spring the Irish border complications to the Brexit issue are linked to the death of Michael Collins in 1922. 
In Summer we see the immigrant camps of today and those of the 1940s (in particular that in which Daniel Gluck is interned.Rhythmic chaptersAn rhythmical chapter, clearly designed to be read aloud: Autumn - the famous “All across the country …” chapter which Smith seemed to use in most of her readings; Winter the opening “ ….. is dead” chapter; Spring has two We Want ..” chapters (one opening and the other voiced by technology giants)Summer begins with a "so?" chapter - capturing the way in which most people just shrug their shoulders at increasing injustice.ShakespeareA key link to a main Shakespeare plays (as well as an opening and seasonally linked Shakespearean Epigraphs and links to other plays). The main plays are all one of Shakespeare's late romances: Autumn - The Tempest, Winter Cymbeline, Spring – Pericles. Summer features - The Winter's Tale.And the Epigraph is "O, she's warm" (from that play)DickensA key link to a Dickens work: Autumn – A Tale of Two Cities, Winter – A Christmas Carol; Spring - The Story of Richard Doubledick and Summer appears to be the Haunted Man (which also gives the book the epigraph "Lord, keep my memory green"Dickens Opening LinesAutumn starts: "It was the worst of times, it was the worst of time"A Tale of Two Cities starts "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"Winter starts "God was dead: to begin with"A Christmas Carol starts: "Marley was dead, to begin with" Spring starts "Now what we don't want is facts"Hard Times starts "NOW, what I want is, Facts"Summer starts "Whether I shall turn out to be the heroine of my own life, Sacha's mother says"David Copperfield starts "Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show"Eduardo BoubatAn reference to Eduardo Boubat’s “petite fille aux feuilles mortes jardin du Luxembourg Paris 1946. In Autumn Daniel remembers the postcard of it that he bought in Paris in the 1980s. In Winter, Sophie - the recipient we later realise of the postcard is reminded of the postcard by the disembodied head she starts seeingIn Spring, a disembodied voice (perhaps taken, as we later realise is much of the book, from Florence’s Hot Air book) says “I’m the child who’s been buried in leaves” with a later reference to “children with clothes as ragged as suits of old leaves”. In Summer we get Yeah and you with your the day will come when we’ll all be wearing leaves instead of clothes vision of the world, Robert said. It will, Sacha said. We’ll have to change everything. And leaves really matter.TV relationshipsSet alongside the literary references, relationships with TV stars from older years: In Autumn Wendy participates in a game show and forms a relationship with her minor celebrity participant (a former child TV star); in Winter Art’s step-father was a sitcom star; In Spring Richard, is an ex- Play for Today Director for TV and meets Paddy, his muse, confidant, closest friend and one-time (actually make that a double - two-time) lover through their collaboration as Director and writer.In Summer Sacha's mother's one moment of fame as an actress was in an old TV advert for washing-up liquid.Reappearing, related characterDaniel Gluck, one of the two key characters of Autumn reappears as an earlier lover of a character in subsequent books - Sophie in Winter and Paddy in Spring - albeit with a different name in the latter (mistakenly identified as Andy). In Summer we see a host of returning characters - including Daniel (a main character again), Elisabeth, Art, Charlotte, Iris - and we also see someone else from Autumn Daniel's Hannah - whose story is one of the most haunting images of that book.A Love of and interest in Charlie ChaplinBoth his work and his own life, introduced in each book by Daniel but then passed on in turn to other characters by those who Daniel infused with his love for ChaplinIn Summer we realise that this love originated with Hannah - and that perhaps Daniel took it on from her. Chaplin perhaps features more in this book than even in its predecessors.Time ContainersWhen discussing the quartet, Smith commented But we're time-containers, we hold all our diachrony, our pasts and our futures (and also the pasts and futures of all the people who made us and who in turn we'll help to make) in every one of our consecutive moments / minutes / days / years 

In Autumn this concept was captured particularly in Daniel’s dreams and his memories of his fleeing from Nazi Germany and of his brilliant sister killed in the holocaust. 
In Winter the concept is even more explicit when discussing Art’s visions of the floating coastline, Lux explains what she calls her own coastline. In Spring the idea is I think best captured in the almost interminable 11.29 on the railway platform in Kingussie as Richard reflects on much of his life Is a single minute really this long. Is the clock that’s broken the one inside him In Summer not only do we get the reappearance of Hannah but we get this passage (with a literal time container) Sacha looks at the thing that’s made a seagull claw, a birdsfoot, of her hand. She tips her claw upside down so that the sand inside the glass runs, and it does run very prettily, from the first globe into the other, a fine thread of gold through the tiny opening that connects them. My brother, she says. Time is dimensional. Robert Greenlaw has just demonstrated not just the curve and dimensionality of time but also its multiple nature and given himself a TOTAL HIGH by affixing irremovably a piece of curved and dimensional time into the curved dimension of a mortal hand. Heh. ! The song he’d sing if he could still sing would be about how time is more than one thing, time is glass and sand, time is brittle and fluid, time is fragile and tough, time is sharp and blunt, time is now and ancient, time is before and after, time is smooth and rough and if you try to remove your attachment to time, time will laugh out loud and take the skin off you.The symbolism of commons and fences The image that Ali Smith first thought of when she envisaged the Seasonal quartet was a fence - and as commented in my opening remarks the key for Ali Smith throughout this quartet was to emphasise that "nothing is not connected" and that "division is a lie" ie we havdd Ed much in common. Autumn Elisabeth’s mother is shocked by a fence erected on a common near her home (the fence serving a metaphor for Brexit)Winter Iris chains herself to a fence at the very start of the Greenham Commons protests. Spring the fences are in the Immigration centre and the replacement of the commons by enclosures was the first stage of the Highland clearances which feature in the novel.Summer Grace looking for an old English church she visited three decades ago .. came instead to a massive wire fence that seemed to block off most of the common
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  • Paul Fulcher
    January 1, 1970
    See him as he squats on Cromer beach doing sums, Charlie Chaplin with the brow of Shakespeare.'Einstein' by John Maynard Keynes, New Statesman and Nation (1933), and the epigraph to Einstein on the Run: How Britain Saved the World’s Greatest ScientistWho am I then? What am I doing here? This is not my country or my home; I have no one left in the whole world, everybody’s dead.Lorenza Mazzetti, Diario londinese - translation by Francesca MassarentiBingo Card at the ready: See him as he squats on Cromer beach doing sums, Charlie Chaplin with the brow of Shakespeare.'Einstein' by John Maynard Keynes, New Statesman and Nation (1933), and the epigraph to Einstein on the Run: How Britain Saved the World’s Greatest ScientistWho am I then? What am I doing here? This is not my country or my home; I have no one left in the whole world, everybody’s dead.Lorenza Mazzetti, Diario londinese - translation by Francesca MassarentiBingo Card at the ready:
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  • hayden
    January 1, 1970
    if I got pregnant today, I’d give birth to an infant about the time this book releases.edit:agh, both covers are lovely. so excited for this one, and to experience the entire quartet at once.edit to edit:wait, pushed back to august? was it always august? woe is me!
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