Staring at the Sun

Staring at the Sun

by Julian Barnes
     
 

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Jean Serjeant, the heroine of Julian Barnes's wonderfully provocative novel, seems ordinary, but has an extraordinary disdain for wisdom. And as Barnes--author of The Porcupine and Talking It Over--follows her from her childhood in the 1920s to her flight into the sun in the year 2021, he confronts readers with the fruits of her relentless curiosity: pilgrimages to

Overview

Jean Serjeant, the heroine of Julian Barnes's wonderfully provocative novel, seems ordinary, but has an extraordinary disdain for wisdom. And as Barnes--author of The Porcupine and Talking It Over--follows her from her childhood in the 1920s to her flight into the sun in the year 2021, he confronts readers with the fruits of her relentless curiosity: pilgrimages to China and the Grand Canyon; a catalog of 1940s sexual euphemisms; and a glimpse of technology in the twenty-first century (when The Absolute Truth can be universally accessed).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From guileless child to implausibly innocent adolescent and young woman, Jean Serjeantthe central figure in this wonderfully imagined novel by the gifted author of Flaubert's Parrotunaccountably (and perhaps a mite too easily) becomes a mature woman who, without losing her endearing, wide-eyed qualities, acquires a wisdom that lies beyond reason. The narrative of her unremarkable life would otherwise seem drab: she marries the village policeman and stays unhappily married for 20 years, whenseemingly beyond childbearingshe brings forth a son and thereupon leaves her marriage to enter the wider world. A grounded RAF pilot (who cracked under the strain of combat) tells her that he ``stared at the sun'' flying a combat mission in 1941, on the day it had risen twice in what he calls an ``ordinary miracle.'' What is astonishing and moving about Jean's life is its very conventionality and ordinariness; it is as though the author had challenged himself to make poetry out of dust. At the venerable age of 100 in the year 2021, Jean is able to give her son definitive answers to the ultimate questions about death (it is ``absolute''), religion (``nonsense''), suicide (not ``permissible'') while retaining an undiminished sense of awe in the face of a mysterious universe, as she herself, with the fitting grandeur of her unspoiled simplicity, flies up and up into the sky, staring at the sun. (April 2)
Library Journal
This ``gentle novel'' ( LJ 4/1/87) by the author of the acclaimed Flaubert's Parrot follows the life of protagonist Jean from childhood to age 100. Throughout, Jean searches for truths in her life, eventually finding the answers she seeks. For all fiction collections.
Carlos Fuentes
"Brilliant...a marvelous literary ephemy." -- The New York Times Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679748205
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/28/1993
Series:
Vintage International Series
Edition description:
REISSUE
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
1,265,863
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.50(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.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
London, England
Date of Birth:
January 19, 1946
Place of Birth:
Leicester, England
Education:
Degree in modern languages from Magdalen College, Oxford, 1968

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