June 12, 2011 |
Pulse Stories Julian Barnes Alfred A. Knopf: 227 pp., $25 Of our leading novelists, Julian Barnes has one of the richest historical imaginations. "Flaubert's Parrot" (the title is more or less self-explanatory) and "Arthur & George" (based on a true incident in which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle came to the rescue of an Anglo-Indian lawyer falsely accused of a heinous crime) are smoothly seductive masterpieces, which conclusively demonstrate the writer's ability to reconstruct the past in an utterly unselfconscious, entirely persuasive manner.
September 29, 2008 |
The perfect epigraph for "Nothing to Be Frightened Of" would be the haunting Latin refrain which concludes each stanza of a poem by the 15th century Scottish writer William Dunbar: "Timor Mortis conturbat me." ("The fear of death distresses me.") It is certainly the leitmotif that runs through this odd book -- part family memoir, part meditation on death and dying -- by British novelist Julian Barnes.
January 15, 2006 |
THESE days, the formidable Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) suffers the curious fate of being less famous than his fictional creation Sherlock Holmes. This, however, was not always so.
July 11, 2004 |
Julian BARNES has long had a fascination with aging and death. "I am now older than Flaubert ever was," points out middle-aged Geoffrey Braithwaite, the narrator of "Flaubert's Parrot," the audacious novel-as-faux-literary-investigation that put Barnes on the literary map 20 years ago. "It seemed a presumptuous thing to be; sad and unmerited. Is there ever a right time to die?"
February 9, 2003 |
Reflections on sickness, as warning of our own mortality or as metaphor of civilization's sins, began with the biblical plagues. Three recently published books, whose writing spans a full century from 1887 to 1987, remind us that illness is a period piece. Time and place define our maladies, along with their treatments, determining how dire is our case and, crucially, who shall be saved. Struggling to find a language of sickness, one not hobbled by metaphor, all writers acknowledge defeat.
March 12, 2001 |
"Fiction," says Julian Barnes, "is as intimate as sex." Certainly his new novel, "Love, etc.," pushes the relationship between the reader and the characters to an intimate point. Even authors Milan Kundera and Vladimir Nabokov, master manipulators, do not leave their readers talking about their characters as if they were people one knows. In "Love, etc.," the characters ask us questions. They answer questions we haven't asked, out loud, anyway.