A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters

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This is, in short, a complete, unsettling, and frequently exhilarating vision of the world, starting with the voyage of Noah's ark and ending with a sneak preview of heaven!
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Overview

This is, in short, a complete, unsettling, and frequently exhilarating vision of the world, starting with the voyage of Noah's ark and ending with a sneak preview of heaven!
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

NY Review of Books
Barnes is an accomplished equilibrist; a reader who appreciates being made to work for his sense of balance will find in A History of the World special pleasures, special perils.
New York Times Books of the Century
The many stories here are given their...humor, by an undercurrent of gentle, self-reflective irony.
New York Review of Books
Barnes is an accomplished equilibrist; a reader who appreciates being made to work for his sense of balance will find in A History of the World special pleasures, special perils.
New York Times Books of the Century
The maNew York stories here are given their...humor, by an undercurrent of gentle, self-reflective iroNew York.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Admirers of Barnes are accustomed to thoroughly unorthodox approaches to the novel, and his latest, while brilliantly entertaining, certainly strains the limits of the genre.
Library Journal
A revisionist view of Noah's Ark, told by the stowaway woodworm. A chilling account of terrorists hijacking a cruise ship. A court case in 16th-century France in which the woodworm stand accused. A desperate woman's attempt to escape radioactive fallout on a raft. An acute analysis of Gericault's ``Scene of Shipwreck.'' The search of a 19th-century Englishwoman and of a contemporary American astronaut for Noah's Ark. An actor's increasingly desperate letters to his silent lover. A thoughtful meditation on the novelist's responsibility regarding love. These and other stories make up Barnes's witty and sometimes acerbic retelling of the history of the world. The stories are connected, if only tangentially, which is precisely Barnes' point: historians may tell us that ``there was a pattern,'' but history is ``just voices echoing in the dark....strange links, impertinent connections.'' Fascinating reading. -- Barbara Hoffert
Library Journal
A revisionist view of Noah's Ark, told by the stowaway woodworm. A chilling account of terrorists hijacking a cruise ship. A court case in 16th-century France in which the woodworm stand accused. A desperate woman's attempt to escape radioactive fallout on a raft. An acute analysis of Gericault's ``Scene of Shipwreck.'' The search of a 19th-century Englishwoman and of a contemporary American astronaut for Noah's Ark. An actor's increasingly desperate letters to his silent lover. A thoughtful meditation on the novelist's responsibility regarding love. These and other stories make up Barnes's witty and sometimes acerbic retelling of the history of the world. The stories are connected, if only tangentially, which is precisely Barnes' point: historians may tell us that ``there was a pattern,'' but history is ``just voices echoing in the dark....strange links, impertinent connections.'' Fascinating reading. -- Barbara Hoffert
Joyce Carol Oates
Mr. Barnes's concerns throughout are abstract and philosophical, though his tone is unpretentious....Given the principle of repetition, of permutations and combinations, it is inevitable that some of Mr. Barnes's prose pieces are more successful than others....''A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters'' demystifies its subjects and renders them almost ordinary: ''Myth will become reality, however sceptical we might be.'' In so doing it deconstructs, perhaps even mocks, its own ambition. If the reader does not come to the book with certain of the expectations of prose fiction - that ideas will be dramatized with such narrative momentum that forgets they are ''ideas,'' and that complete worlds will be evoked by way of prose, not merely discussed - this is a playful, witty and entertaining gathering of conjectures by a man to whom ideas are quite clearly crucial: a quintessential humanist, it would seem, of the pre-post-modernist species. -- New York Times
NY Review of Books
Barnes is an accomplished equilibrist; a reader who appreciates being made to work for his sense of balance will find in A History of the World special pleasures, special perils.
New York Times Books of the Century
The many stories here are given their...humor, by an undercurrent of gentle, self-reflective irony.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781850893486
  • Publisher: ISIS Large Print Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/1998
  • Pages: 497
  • Product dimensions: 5.63 (w) x 8.72 (h) x 1.42 (d)

Meet the Author

Born in Leicester in 1946, Julian Barnes is the author of nine novels, a book of stories, and a collection of essays. He has won both the Prix Médicis and the Prix Fémina, and in 1988 was made a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He lives in London.

Biography

Julian Barnes once told London's Observer that he writes fiction "to tell beautiful, exact, and well-constructed lies which enclose hard and shimmering truths." Indeed, this is what Barnes does, sometimes spiking his lies with fact -- most notably in Flaubert's Parrot, the novel that became his breakthrough book. The story of a retired doctor obsessed with the French author, it combines a literary detective story with a character study of its detective, including facts about Flaubert along the way.

Before Flaubert's Parrot propelled him into the company of Ian McEwan and Martin Amis in British authordom, Barnes had been moderately successful with the novels Metroland (which later became the 1997 movie starring Emily Watson and Christian Bale) and Before She Met Me. He was also known to Brits as a newspaper TV critic. Parrot and Barnes's subsequent "Letters from London" in The New Yorker helped expand the author's Stateside following.

"A lot of novelists set up a kind of franchise, and turn out a familiar product," friend and fellow author Jay McInerney told the Guardian in 2000. "But what I like about Jules's work is that he's like an entrepreneur who starts up a new company every time out." Among other ambitious themes, Barnes has explored the collapse of communism (The Porcupine) the Disneyfication of culture (England, England), the simple dynamics of relationships (Talking It Over and its sequel, Love, Etc.), and the connections between art, religion, and death (The History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters).

Barnes has also produced collections of essays, a translation of Alphonse Daudet's In the Land of Pain, and a family memoir (Nothing to Be Frightened Of) that also serves as a meditation on mortality.

Good To Know

In 2000, a cybersquatting professor acquired the Internet rights to julianbarnes.com and several other authors' domain names; Barnes later won his name back, and the domain is now an informational site run by a fan with Barnes's permission. Barnes had protested the professor's actions, accusing him of usurpation; but his opponent might have responded by quoting from Barnes's own (albeit satirical) England, England: "Indeed, wasn't there something old-fashioned about the whole concept of ownership, or rather its acquisition by formal contract, in which title is received in exchange for consideration given?.... It would have been unfair to call Sir Jack Pitman a barbarian, though some did; but there stirred within him a longing to revisit pre-classical, pre-bureaucratic methods of acquiring ownership. Methods such as theft, conquest and pillage, for example."

Barnes wrote four mystery novels under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh, all of which are now out of print; the novels starred Duffy, a bisexual ex–police officer. Kavanagh's bio read in part: "Having devoted his adolescence to truancy, venery and petty theft, he left home at seventeen and signed on as a deckhand on a Liberian tanker." Kavanagh also happens to be the last name of Barnes's agent and wife, Pat.

Barnes was a deputy literary editor under Martin Amis at the New Statesman from 1980–82 and was also a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary. Amis and Barnes later had a falling-out that became fodder for the press when Amis wrote about it in his memoir, Experience; Barnes is mum on the subject, but the disagreement arose when Amis defected from Barnes's wife to another agent.

Barnes has a cameo in the film Bridget Jones's Diary as himself, but in a lesser role than he has in Helen Fielding's book. In the book, Bridget is flummoxed upon encountering Barnes and embarrasses herself; but the more recognizable Salman Rushdie was substituted for Barnes in the film version.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Dan Kavanagh
    2. Hometown:
      London, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 19, 1946
    2. Place of Birth:
      Leicester, England
    1. Education:
      Degree in modern languages from Magdalen College, Oxford, 1968

Table of Contents

Introduction; Text; Glossary; Activities

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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