Thursday, December 21, 2006

Julian Barnes: Personal History

Julian Barnes. "The Past Conditional."The New Yorker, 25 December 2006 -- 1 January 2007: 56+ [Barnes writes about family, death, and religion].

From the article:

"I don’t believe in God, but I miss Him. That’s what I say when the question is put. I once asked my brother, who has taught philosophy at Oxford, Geneva, and the Sorbonne, what he thought of such a statement, without revealing that it was my own. He replied with a single word: 'Soppy.' "

Read the full article at The New Yorker.

Barnes's Books of the Year (The New Yorker)

Julian Barnes (contributes). "Bedside Reading."The New Yorker, 25 December 2006 -- 1 January 2007.

From the article:

"The two best books I read in 2006 were Suite Française, by Irène Némirovsky (Chatto / Knopf), and Fouché, by Stefan Zweig. Suite Française is not just a searing act of reportage and verisimilitude (the period being the fall of France in 1940 and the immediate aftermath); it also offers a penetrating analysis of the moral failure of the French at that time. Though Némirovsky completed only two of her planned five volumes, what she has left us stands free and wonderful by itself.

"Stefan Zweig is one of those writers, famous throughout the world in his time, whose reputation has dimmed greatly in the decades since his death. His long-out-of-print biography of Joseph Fouché, the chief of the French state police, who came to power during the French Revolution and flourished under several subsequent administrations, is a masterly study of the ultimate political survivor, one who knew everyone’s secrets, had a finger in every pie, and believed in virtually nothing. Fouché makes some of those around at the moment look positively riddled with principles."

Visit The New Yorker website to read comments by other authors on the year's best reads.

Barnes's Books of the Year (The Guardian)

Julian Barnes (contributes). "Take a Leaf Out of Their Books."The Guardian, 25 November 2006.

From the article:

"A minimum (if rarely achieved) requirement for any novel is to make the reader think, yes, of course, it is/must have been exactly like that. Irène Némirovsky's evocation of the chaos after the fall of France in 1940, Suite Française (Chatto / Knopf), is far more than that: the work of a genuine artist, pitiless in articulating the moral faults of the French. John Updike's Terrorist (Hamish
/ Knopf) got some sniffy, snooty reviews, but is his best novel for some years: the world he has so richly evoked over decades now seen through the eyes of one who wants to destroy it. Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion (Bantam / Houghton Mifflin) should be read by everyone from atheist to monk. If its merciless rationalism doesn't enrage you at some point, you probably aren't alive."