Barnes, Julian

Tagged: Author

(1946-    ) UK author who has published detective novels as by Dan Kavanagh; his most famous single novel is Flaubert's Parrot (1984). He has written three Scientific Romances of interest. An abstractedness about the circumstances of the world (see Mainstream Writers of SF) attends Staring at the Sun (1986), which carries its protagonist from her birth in 1922 into an exiguous future 98 years later, closing at a moment of moving epiphany when, still archaically alive to the real world, she gazes at the unfaded reality of the Sun; the end justifies the beginning and the middle of the tale. A History of the World in 10½ Chapters (coll of linked stories 1989) begins with Noah's Ark and gradually assembles a vision of history itself as a Narrenschiff, or Ship of Fools, an Ark which conveys the message that nothing counts without human love.

England, England (1998) is an impressive and perhaps prescient Satire on the theme-parking of the essence of Englishness. After growing up in the already portion-controlled agribusiness desert of East Anglia, the protagonist becomes involved in a Near Future theme park named "England, England" which occupies the whole of the Isle of Wight, a a surreal simulacrum physically replicating the most exploitable part of the real England. "Unattractive" parts of the original have no place here: there are no industrial Midlands, no abandoned high streets. Eventually "England, England" declares independence and joins the European Community, supplanting the old country, which in a coda, set many years later, is seen to have become depopulated, de-industrialized, forgotten. [JC]

Julian Patrick Barnes

born Leicester, Leicestershire: 19 January 1946

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