Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Anthology of New Writing -- Vol. 15

In The Anthology of New Writing (Volume 15), Julian Barnes writes about using real characters in his novel Arthur & George.

Excerpt from the Essay:

"Novelists vary in how much, and how soon, they need to 'see' their characters. Some work 'outside in', unable to begin without a full physical presence; others (like me) tend to work 'inside out', starting from functional or moral significance. In the latter case, a character may be active in a novel without yet having a settled outline; then, at some point -- even, with a minor figure, fairly late in the writing -- the question of appearance needs attending to. Hair colour? Eyes? Stooping or erect of carriage? And so on."

Order a copy from the Granta website or via Amazon.co.uk.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Prosper Mérimée

Julian Barnes writes on Prosper Mérimée for The Guardian, 7 July 2006.

The Man Who Made France Old, two programmes about Prosper Mérimée presented by Julian Barnes and Hermione Lee, will be broadcast on Radio 4, July 12 and July 19 (11.30am -- 12.00pm).

Excerpt from the Essay:

"When we toured the chateaux of the Loire, I couldn't help noticing that many of these great palaces seemed remarkably empty of furniture, and was given to understand that it had all disappeared in the revolution. Into my mind came vague images -- perhaps culled from the film of A Tale of Two Cities -- of looting sans-culottes with wild eyes and bad shaves. The green Michelin guidebooks to which we referred for our facts were, I now realise, written and edited by a team diplomatically keen not to offend any strand of French opinion; so there was much elision, and a tactical unwillingness to take any controversial (or even discernible) side in France's long, internecine history. Nor did the books indicate how precarious had been the earlier life of this solid monumentality we dutifully visited. Still less did they mention, let alone salute, the man without whose decisive influence and actions what the French now call their patrimony would have been considerably diminished: Prosper Mérimée."

Read the full essay at The Guardian website.