From a Summer to an Autumn

Michael Wood

  • Levels of Life by Julian Barnes
    Cape, 118 pp, £10.99, April 2013, ISBN 978 0 224 09815 1

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 griefstruck are not depressed, just properly, appropriately, mathematically … sad.’

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