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Diary

Julian Barnes: Burning Letters, 7 July 1988

... reader. The other day, for instance, I turned up the following harmless statement about myself: Barnes, Julian 1946- Julian Barnes intends to keep his manuscripts and typescripts in his own possession for the foreseeable future [information supplied by the author, March 1987]. I ...
Cross Channel 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 211 pp., £13.99, January 1996, 0 224 04301 3
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... but why did interpretation have to end just there, what was to stop it going on indefinitely? On Julian Barnes, who is so addicted to the business or game of interpretations, the question does not seem to weigh so heavily. We perhaps misunderstand Barnes if we take him to be profoundly worried by hermeneutic ...

Oliver’s Riffs

Charles Nicholl, 25 July 1991

Talking It Over 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 288 pp., £13.99, July 1991, 0 224 03157 0
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... 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 if his humour tends somewhat to jokiness, then at least the jokes are good ones. At his best – in Flaubert’s Parrot and A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters – he uses his skills as a literary entertainer to put across complex, resonant ideas ...

Stowaway Woodworm

Frank Kermode, 22 June 1989

A History of the World in 10½ Chapters 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 320 pp., £10.95, June 1989, 0 224 02669 0
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... no limit to his possible experiments, efforts, discoveries, successes’. A new novel by Julian Barnes is a reminder that – up to a point, anyway – the situation has changed. Without being defiantly weird or consciously trying to alter the future, Barnes is clearly no slave to limit; he does something ...

Real Questions

Ian Hamilton, 6 November 1986

Staring at the Sun 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 195 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 224 02414 0
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... 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 suffered from interrogation-mania: try as he might, he couldn’t stop himself wondering about the details of his wife’s past loveaffairs ...

Half-Timbering, Homosexuality and Whingeing

Ian Sansom: Julian Barnes, 1 October 1998

England, England 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 272 pp., £15.99, September 1998, 0 224 05275 6
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... and authenticity, but is itself something of a poser. This is, I’m sure, entirely by design: Julian Barnes is a writer who knows how to spot a fake. Last year, on 15 September, for example, in the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana, the New Yorker ran a series of articles in praise of the Princess. Clive James put on the most astonishing ...

‘Oh no Oh No OH NO’

Thomas Jones: Julian Barnes, 17 February 2011

Pulse 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 228 pp., £16.99, January 2011, 978 0 224 09108 4
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Nothing to Be Frightened Of 
by Julian Barnes.
Vintage, 250 pp., £8.99, March 2009, 978 0 09 952374 1
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... 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 themselves when they get there. I suppose with most people it’s between 25 and 35.’ For him, though, he imagines it’s ‘a sprightly 65 ...

Stupidly English

Michael Wood: Julian Barnes, 22 September 2011

The Sense of an Ending 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 150 pp., £12.99, July 2011, 978 0 224 09415 3
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... 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, which in any case is a matter more of temperament than passport. But he is endlessly fascinated by it, and no one knows the dark, quiet corners of its pathology better than he does ...

Tell us about it

Alex Clark: Julian Barnes, 24 August 2000

Love, etc 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 250 pp., £15.99, August 2000, 0 224 06109 7
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... 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 metaphor, of likening one thing to another, and on the possible outcome of paying too much attention to what is not real. Most of the warnings fall from the mouth of the doggedly pragmatic Stuart, whose rough ride in the world of marriage, love and romance has sent him scurrying towards all that is solid, material, practical ...

Irishtown

D.A.N. Jones, 1 November 1984

Ironweed 
by William Kennedy.
Viking, 227 pp., £7.95, September 1984, 0 670 40176 5
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In Custody 
by Anita Desai.
Heinemann, 204 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 9780434186358
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Flaubert’s Parrot 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 190 pp., £8.50, October 1984, 0 241 11374 1
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... unfamiliar. William Kennedy’s Ironweed is about Albany, capital of the State of New York. Julian Barnes writes about the France of Gustave Flaubert, as discussed in an irrational, pedantic manner by a British admirer of Flaubert’s work. Anita Desai, daughter of a German mother and a Bengali father, writes about the world of Indian poets, a very ...

Twinkly

Theo Tait: Beyond the Barnes persona, 1 September 2005

Arthur & George 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 360 pp., £17.99, July 2005, 0 224 07703 1
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... present everywhere and visible nowhere.’ For most of his career, the celebrated Flaubertian Julian Barnes has occupied the opposite end of the spectrum: less a transcendent creator than a garrulous master of ceremonies, unwilling or unable to prevent himself interrupting the proceedings. As John Bayley put it a few years back, one primary object of ...

From a Summer to an Autumn

Michael Wood: Julian Barnes, 9 May 2013

Levels of Life 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 118 pp., £10.99, April 2013, 978 0 224 09815 1
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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 not refuse the word ‘sad’, because, he suggests, one of the first things we should understand about grief is its banality, its need of ordinary old words that may seem flat but will not seem evasive ...

The Pouncer

Julian Barnes, 3 March 1983

The Mystery of Georges Simenon 
by Fenton Bresler.
Heinemann, 259 pp., £8.95, February 1983, 0 434 98033 1
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... forensic solecism in the Maigret books, he tends to rely for criticism on the judgments of Julian Symons and Maurice Richardson. This is probably wise – Mr Bresler arouses little confidence in his own literary footing. When, for instance, he quotes Simenon’s dictum about style – ‘If it rains, I write: “It rains” ’ – he seems unaware ...

Diary

Julian Barnes: On the Booker, 12 November 1987

... a large dining-room where a dozen literati were all well into their lunch. C’est Monsieur Barnes, she announced, but not a single fork paused on its way to a single mouth. Oh dear, I thought, I was obviously some terrible compromise candidate; I shall be the Keri Hulme of the Prix Médicis. But no, we’d disturbed the jurors of the Prix Fémina by ...

Cobbery

Julian Barnes, 2 May 1985

A Classical Education 
by Richard Cobb.
Chatto, 156 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 7011 2936 0
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Still Life: Sketches from a Tunbridge Wells Childhood 
by Richard Cobb.
Chatto, 161 pp., £3.95, April 1985, 0 7012 1920 3
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... On a damp October evening last year this man robbed me of £15,000. The sum was tax free, so you could round it up to £20,000. Wineglass in hand, black tie at the throat, he also robbed four other novelists of the same sum – four others also musing, no doubt, on kitchen extensions, snooker tables, deep freezes and pulsing foreign holidays (though what we piously say to the press, of course, is ‘We need the money to make the time to write the next book in ...

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