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England England Paperback – 18 Mar 2005

3.0 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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England, England
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New Edit/Cover edition (18 Mar. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330373447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330373449
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 698,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Julian Barnes's England, England is a sharp-edged satire of Englishness at the end of the 20th century. The real England is failing--her empire lost, her aspirations to greatness subsiding, her history fading. Megalomaniacal entrepreneur Sir Jack Pitman hits upon the idea of creating an altogether superior, theme-park version of the original on the Isle of Wight (renamed simply the Island). His creative team includes Martha Cochraine, whose own childhood disappointments and unfulfilled dreams Barnes unfolds to the reader in the opening chapters. For a brief moment it looks as if able Martha will outsmart the ruthless Sir Jack, assisted by her grateful, bespectacled lover Paul Harrison (the operation's "ideas catcher"). But this is fantasy, so humble Paul betrays Martha (it would never do for the feisty woman to win after all). She retreats to the real England of faded glory, nostalgic folklore and regret.

In one section of this short novel the theme-park Dr Johnson talks entirely in direct quotations from his distinguished 18th-century counterpart, before being judged insufficiently convincing. The real, we understand, is less compelling than the fake. There are so many cultural allusions per page that the head of even the most enthusiastic English culture snob will spin. --Lisa Jardine

Review

"Runs at glorious full tilt...delightful stuff" (Independent)

"A brilliant, Swiftian fantasy" (The Economist)

"There is no more intelligent writer on the literary scene. In this novel, he is also moving. He has written nothing more poignant and enticing" (John Carey Sunday Times)

"Not only a very funny satire about England and the world... He has also skilfully dissected the discomforting ways in which we have all grown to accept, and even depend on, illusion" (Wall Street Journal)

"Few writers think and talk so beguiling" (Zoë Heller Independent on Sunday) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Julian Barnes has regularly turned out novels breaching the boundaries between fiction and essay, lolling around in ideas and dissecting them as an essayist would but through the machinations of plot.

The genius of the man lies in the fact that despite his leanings towards the essay his works exist as fully-fledged fictional works. He is arguably the greatest English novelist of the past twenty years and has a much more natural handling of the vagaries of plot and character than most of his contemporaries.

In 'England, England' he takes on the idea of utopia/dystopia but with his usual comic touch. The plot revolves around a businessman's attempts to seal his legacy by creating a sort of mini-England on the Isle of Wight. The island holds everything that foreigners think constitutes England, from Robin Hood to Fish and Chips and even a robin in the snow, and serves as a kind of amusement park come tourist haven, enabling people to experience the breadth of English history and geography in a matter of days.

In terms of ideas Barnes covers capitalism, the real vs the imitation, British tabloids, love, sex and fetishism.

It's one of his more unconventional novels and I probably wouldn't recommend it for a first time reader of Barnes (try 'Talking It Over' instead), but it is probably the novel of his that will be looked at most in academic circles and on university courses and will be read alongside '1984' and 'Brave New World' in the future as a study of utopias/dystopias.
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Format: Paperback
Barnes' reputation as one of Britain's foremost modern authors is strongly reinforced by this recent work. England, England is the story of one man's successful attempt to turn the Isle of Man into a gigantic theme park containing everything that represents England. He is so rich, and so influential, that this project manages to relocate key English landscapes and even the monarchy. The theme park becomes more and more "English", whilst, meanwhile, England is changing. What is left behind on the mainland in the absence of London Bridge, traditional pubs, the Royal Family, soldiers in bearskin hats, and so forth, is a much slower pace of life. With all foreign visitors now diverted to the Isle of Man, by then a quasi-state more powerful than the country it has emulated, England becomes progressively isolated and retreats within itself. An arcadian revival takes place, with a return to rural living, agriculture, village fetes and simple, uncluttered lifestyles. The natural question this draws us to ask is: "Which one is *really* England?" Barnes' concept is strikingly brilliant, and calls into sharp question the values to which we ascribe a certain country or people -- is what makes a country quintessentially that country the legacy of a rotting jumble of nineteenth-century national rhetoric - Britannia, the Union Jack, Queen and Country-, or is it rather something deeper, that has survived political change in the hearts and minds of its people over the centuries? The portrait of life in England Barnes paints by the end of the novel is so much simpler, so much more pleasant than the busy, noisy, stressful lives we lead today that one almost wishes someone would try to create that Isle of Man themepark.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
As well as discussing England and 'Englishness', the book also asks of us to think of our own, individual, character or nature. And it's this that I found most interesting. Sure, the logistics involved in recreating a simulacra of England on the Isle of Wight are fascinating, but there's so much more to the novel as well. It would be crass of me to reduce the essence of this book to cliched questions like - 'Who am I? Where am I going? How will I know when I get there? Am I who I'm destined to be yet?' But I'm not a professional book reviewer, so you'll have to forgive such crassness.
'England, England' is a fine book, and there's more in there than you might think.
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Format: Paperback
I am listening to England England on CD in the car and decided to check to see what else the author has written and was amazed to see how few stars it gets. This is the first time I've read/ listened to anything my Julian Barnes and I am absolutely loving it. It's so well written and brilliantly funny. It makes me laugh helplessly every time I drive anywhere. (A bit dangerous sometimes!) The megalomaniac businessman -Sir Jack - is hilarious. ((@$£! the Puffins' has become a catchphrase in my house!) Anyone who has ever sat in a meeting will recognise the subtle and vicious power play that Barnes describes. But there's so much more to this book than comedy. The opening chapter where we learn about Martha's childhood (especially the riffs on memory) is just beautiful and Barnes' ideas about identity and authenticity are fascinating. Everyone I know will be getting this for Christmas. If I don't know you, you'll have to get it for yourself!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first chapter alone is worth the whole book for the quality of the writing. Barnes' themes are treated lightly throughout his well-constructed narrative.
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Format: Paperback
If you have never read Julian Barnes' work before then this is probably not the book to start with.
Barnes adopts a more 'conventional' novelist's style in this book, though there are a few appearances of more 'Parrot'-like prose. Barnesian analysis of reality, history, knowledge, belief and human emotion continues unabated,though it would seem that for some it gets in the way of 'plot', a typically un-Barnesian vehicle.
If philosophical debate is your thing, then Barnes is your man. If you didn't like this book, then come back to it after dabbling in '10.5 Chapters' and 'Metroland', and it should make more enjoyable reading. If you don't like either of those, pick up a Bill Bryson book and chuckle along with the masses...
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