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Beschreibung des Verlags
In these seventeen essays (and one short story) the 2011 Man Booker Prize winner examines British, French and American writers who have meant most to him, as well as the cross-currents and overlappings of their different cultures. From the deceptiveness of Penelope Fitzgerald to the directness of Hemingway, from Kipling's view of France to the French view of Kipling, from the many translations of Madame Bovary to the fabulations of Ford Madox Ford, from the National Treasure Status of George Orwell to the despair of Michel Houellebecq, Julian Barnes considers what fiction is, and what it can do. As he writes in his preface, 'Novels tell us the most truth about life: what it is, how we live it, what it might be for, how we enjoy and value it, and how we lose it.'
When his Letters from London came out in 1995, the Financial Times called him 'our best essayist'. This wise and deft collection confirms that judgment.
In this anthology, Man Booker Prize-winning British novelist Barnes (The Sense of an Ending) takes us through a life lived in literature. The 17 essays, previously published in newspapers and magazines, pay tribute to writers beloved of Barnes; the one piece of fiction is called "Homage to Hemingway: A Short Story." There is a lack of unity among the essays, which is to be expected from a showcase of disparate pieces spanning more than 15 years and presented non-chronologically. Many of the pieces shine individually, the anthology is at its best when Barnes writes historically (the detailed account and analysis of the difficulties encountered by generations of translators of Madame Bovary is especially illuminating, or biographically (the essay "George Orwell and the Fucking Elephant" a deeper perspective about how large Orwell looms in British culture and why). However, some of the most personal compositions devolve into unadulterated love-fests, like the opening essay about Penelope Fitzgerald, and the remembrance of John Updike. As a whole, though, most avid readers will find more here to like than to dislike; unsurprisingly, one's mileage may vary based on enthusiasm for, and familiarity with, the books and poems Barnes discusses.