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Nothing To Be Frightened Of
Format: Paperback|Change
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on 22 May 2017
A fascinating book. Its structure as a novel in several disparate sections (absolutely full of facts(?) - not all referenced - about Flaubert) makes it an unusual but very readable read. It is thought-provoking, hilariously funny in parts, and offers a captivating insight into Flaubert, authors in general, novel writing as well as the entourage of people who love, hate and critique an author. The narrator's tenuous link to the Madame Bovary character via his now dead adulterous wife largely acts as the device to carry the novel forward and allows Barnes to express his views on writing much more freely.
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on 27 April 2017
Julian Barnes - one of my favourite authors. Another reason to go on to his latest work.
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on 1 June 2017
Very clever, very different from anything else I have read, interweaves stories seamlessly, and indeed does tell the history of the world and its' population from life to death.
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on 26 June 2016
Good value
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on 2 January 2016
Not a big JB fan, as I often find him a bit too "literary" and "clever for the sake of being clever" for my taste. This one is a bit different, though. Full of thought provoking ideas, it's not really got anything to do with the history of the world. More a series of unique short stories, but many with recurring themes. Death, the perception of loss, decay.... The chapters are so different and Barnes writes with such style and wit that there will be one in here which chimes with almost everyone. I loved the raft of the medusa and the story about heaven. Not too heavy. Made me smile and think. And realise why I'm never going to be a writer! Recommended.
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on 26 April 2017
"Excellent Quality" was very far from the truth. Stains on the cover and tatty condition.
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on 14 April 2017
Before I bought this book, I'd already read some Flaubert and I knew a little about the author himself, that's what prompted me to buy this book. However, I don't really know what to make of this book. I don't find it nearly as interesting as (for example) "Madame Bovary" or Flaubert's biographical details. Also, there is a bizarre physical detail in the printing of this book: there are two variants used for the letter "i". One has a dot, the other hasn't, so it looks like a dwarf "1". About half of the occurrences of this vowel seem to be without the dot. This may sound trivial but I found it remarkably irritating at first.
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on 29 January 2014
This is quite an interesting book and is surprisingly readable considering that it isn’t really a novel at all, more a collection of essays and opinions by a fictional character, a retired English doctor by the name of Geoffrey Braithwaite who is obsessed with the life of Flaubert.
But it seems that this Braithwaite character must be a kind of mouthpiece for Barnes himself, otherwise what is the point of it all? How much can we learn about a real writer, Flaubert, when the information and opinions are sifted through three filters, as it were, the author, his narrator and whatever the original source might have been. How much is fact and how much is fiction?
But it does seem as if Barnes has been careful to give us the truth about Flaubert, where possible, so the book is actually interesting and manages to be quite entertaining too, though hardly a great novel.
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on 30 September 2017
A witty and profound read. Death is the final taboo, and I think the nearest thing to it in life is depression. Without religion , as Barnes assesses most intelligent people surely are now , you can treat death as a completely natural inevitable event , or a horrifyingly absurd inevitable event. Barnes gets the tone as balanced as anyone ever will.
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on 11 August 2009
I'm glad I discovered Julian Barnes. His command of English and ability to summarise an idea is sublime - what most people have only as a vague soup of subconscious thoughts, he can put down on paper, to leave you lost in new trains of thought for a long time. This works well in a book that's mostly about dying, specifically Barnes' self-confessed fear of it. It's not a self-help book, and neither does it offer THE answer, or any answers at all. It actually digresses quite a lot on topics of the author's childhood, the unreliability of memory, and appreciation of art which dilutes the effect, unless you are interested in the particular topic. But every few pages or so it swells to deliver a statement where you just have to close the book and reflect on it. I personally found the general effect quite calming - perhaps because of my age, perhaps because of my own 'we'll cross that bridge when we come to it outlook on things. There is also quite a lot of humour. This book just worked for me at the time I read it - not that its intention is to calm or stoke your fear of death, such as it may be. It is food for thought, and probably worth re-reading every ten years to see how your opinions have changed. It is definitely worth reading just to enjoy the beautiful style of writing.
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