Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Arthur and George By Julian Barnes

Arthur and George (2006, 400 pages)

Arthur and George is the third book by Julian Barnes I have read.   My first one was The Sense of an Ending and my second was Flaubert's Parrot.   I cannot say which of these novels I like best but I will say Arthur and George was the most fun to read and the most exciting.  The novel is for more than the first half a tale of two men, one the creator of the Sherlock Holmes stories and one a solicitor of Indian descent.

The way Barnes structures this novel is just brilliant.   The characters of the solicitor and of Holmes are just perfect as are the minor players.   Barnes brings the era totally to life for us.   I felt so bad for what happened for the solicitor and you will also.   Doyle gets into spiritualism and I do not fault him for this.   I think once many of the important people in your life have passed the attraction can be understood.  I got chills in the final scenes it was just so brilliant.  How the two lives come together is marvelous and is based on real events.  

  I think the best thing I can do to give potential readers a feel for this novel is to quote the description from the web page of the author.

Arthur and George grow up worlds and miles apart in late 19th century Britain: Arthur in shabby-genteel Catholic Edinburgh, George in the vicarage of a small Staffordshire village. Arthur is to become one of the most famous men of his age, George a Birmingham solicitor, is happy in hardworking obscurity. But as the new century begins, they are brought together by a sequence of events that made sensational headlines at the time as The Great Wyrley Outrages. With a mixture of intense research and vivid imagination, Julian Barnes brings into sharp focus not just this long-forgotten case but the inner workings of the two men and the wider psychology of the age. Arthur & George is a novel in which the events of a hundred years ago constantly set off contemporary echoes. It is a novel about low crime and high spirituality; guilt and innocence; identity, nationality and race; and thwarted passion. Arthur & George explores what we think, what we believe, and what we know.

I really liked this book a lot and I will eagerly read more of Barnes.

Please share your experience with Barnes with us.


CHE said...

I'm yet to read anything by Barnes but I've been wanting to, ever since I read your review of one of his short stories. This sounds like a very interesting premise.

Mel u said...

Che. Several of his short stories and lots of essays can be read at his web page.

Rummanah Aasi said...

This was my first Barnes book and picked it up on a whim. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I especially liked reading the social criticism more than the story. I like how the mystery and crime is more of a subplot compared to the larger themes.