Julian Barnes

Julian Barnes’s novels include Flaubert’s Parrot, Arthur and George and A Sense of an Ending, which won the Booker Prize in 2011. Keeping an Eye Open, a collection of his essays on art, contains many pieces first published in the LRB.

Diary: Art and Memory

Julian Barnes, 9 May 2024

‘Madame Camille Redon lisant’ by Odilon Redon

About​ fifteen years ago, I bought a painting at auction. Apart from the usual anxieties, there was an overriding emotional factor. My wife, who had died a year or so earlier, had for many years collected images of women reading: mainly drawings, prints and watercolours, plus one small painting. I was browsing through the online...

Early in​ 1971, Robert Hughes, recently appointed as Time magazine’s chief art critic, was ripping out his loft apartment at 143 Prince Street when he received an unexpected visitor. This was Henry Geldzahler, curator of modern art at the Metropolitan Museum. Hughes, probably the most macho and combative critic in his profession, was, by his own account, sweaty, foul-tempered,...

At the National Gallery: Two Portraits

Julian Barnes, 18 August 2022

‘Where​ do the noses go?’ Ingrid Bergman asks in For Whom the Bell Tolls, voicing apprehension over how to kiss. ‘Always I wonder where the noses will go.’ For an artist the equivalent might be ‘Where do the thumbs go?’ Hands are notoriously difficult to draw: all those fingers so close together, limblets so expressive when we use them in life, yet often...

‘My Cousin Bichonnade’ (1905)

When​ the Italian theorist Ricciotto Canudo pronounced cinema the ‘seventh art’ in 1911, photography had the right to sulk: after all, what was this arriviste form but a succession of photographs made to move? Photography had not received such commendation in the sixty years of its existence. But like jazz, it was an art that seemed...

Is it possible – let alone proper – for a novelist to feel grateful to a book he or she has written? Even if the self that wrote the book is forty years away, isn’t there something creepy or self-satisfied about it? I could pretend that it’s Flaubert I am grateful to, for without him my novel Flaubert’s Parrot could not have existed; but the truth is that I mainly feel gratitude to that book.

Even among the loudest and most insistent personalities of fin-de-siècle Paris, the mild-mannered Dr Pozzi more than held his own. And he knew everybody, or at least that small segment of the population...

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Zanchevsky, Zakrevsky or Zakovsky? Julian Barnes

Sheila Fitzpatrick, 18 February 2016

The two great preoccupations of Barnes’s Shostakovich are his own character weaknesses and his relationship to the Soviet regime.

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Julian Barnes invites us to visit what he calls a ‘tropic of grief’ that is wilder and bleaker than anything in the pages of Lévi-Strauss’s great memoir. But Barnes does...

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Stupidly English: Julian Barnes

Michael Wood, 22 September 2011

Julian Barnes specialises in Englishness the way some doctors specialise in broken bones or damaged nerves. Like many actual English people, he’s not a chronic sufferer from the complaint,...

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‘Oh no Oh No OH NO’: Julian Barnes

Thomas Jones, 17 February 2011

The 21-year-old narrator of Julian Barnes’s first novel, Metroland (1980), suggests that ‘everyone has a perfect age to which they aspire, and they’re only truly at ease with...

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Twinkly: Beyond the Barnes persona

Theo Tait, 1 September 2005

According to Flaubert’s famous rule, ‘an author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.’ For most of his career, the celebrated...

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Julian Barnes’s new book of short stories is concerned with old age and death. Barnes – who was born in 1946 – should have a few years to go before he experiences either...

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Tell us about it: Julian Barnes

Alex Clark, 24 August 2000

Ironies accumulate in the work of Julian Barnes, like – well, perhaps we’d better not attempt to say what they are like, since Love, etc contains several admonitions on the dangers of...

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The title of this novel is a contraction (of the famous phrase from W.E. Henley’s ‘Pro Rege Nostro’, ‘What have I done for you,/England, my England’). The...

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It was Wittgenstein’s objection to Freud and his Interpretation of Dreams that the procedure might be impressive, but why did interpretation have to end just there, what was to stop it...

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Sausages and Higher Things

Patrick Parrinder, 11 February 1993

‘It seems to me the further east you go the more unpunctual are the trains.’ Bram Stoker’s Dracula was the source for this epigraph to the best-known British novel of the...

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Oliver’s Riffs

Charles Nicholl, 25 July 1991

Julian Barnes is a writer of rare intelligence. He catches the detail of contemporary life with an uncanny, forensic skill. His style is a model of cool and precision. He is often very funny, and...

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Stowaway Woodworm

Frank Kermode, 22 June 1989

About a century ago Henry James remarked sadly that, unlike the French, the English novel was not discutable. It had no theory behind it. Its practitioners were largely unaware that ‘there...

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Real Questions

Ian Hamilton, 6 November 1986

Julian Barnes once trained to be a barrister and he’s been asking questions ever since – questions, mostly, about questions. In Before she met me, the hero of the book actually...

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D.A.N. Jones, 1 November 1984

These novels, all in the literary-prize-winning league, tell us of areas with which we are probably unfamiliar. William Kennedy’s Ironweed is about Albany, capital of the State of New York....

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Robert Taubman, 20 May 1982

The voices in A Chain of Voices are those of 30 characters, Boer farmers and their hired labourers and slaves, in the Cape in the early 19th century. The voices are ‘all different yet all...

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Looking back

John Sutherland, 22 May 1980

The Victorian practice of antedating is enjoying a revival with contemporary English novelists. Every so often, it would seem, fiction becomes broody, retrospective, and responsive to...

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