Julian Barnes by Flaubert's Parrot

1 Conversation

(une biographie en bricolage)

This Guide Entry may contain spoilers.
This Guide Entry is not about parrots. Psittacophiles should search elsewhere.

Why does the writing make us chase the writer? Why can't we leave well alone? Why aren't the books enough? Flaubert wanted them to be: few writers believed more in the objectivity of the written text and the insignificance of the writer's personality; yet still we disobediently pursue.

- Flaubert’s Parrot (1985)

1: Flaubert's Parrot

... a novel in disguise ... a novel that constantly surprises

- Dust Jacket

Superficially Flaubert’s Parrot, shortlisted for the 1984 Booker Prize, is the story of an irascible widower’s zealous obsession with author Gustave Flaubert, and more specifically the whimsical search for LouLou, a fictional bird adored by the equally fictional Félicité in Un Cœur Simple, but which in its stuffed reality brought about by taxidermy adorned the desk of and inspired their mutual creator, Gustave Flaubert.

But Julian Barnes aficionados will know that nothing written by Mr Barnes is ever so bland.

Blow away the green feathers and an erudite freestyle semi-fictional gallivant through an array of tangential Flaubertian proclivity and ephemera precipitates a subversive biography of the author of Madame Bovary. According to David Lodge, whose own Small World was included on the same 1984 Booker Prize shortlist, Flaubert’s Parrot could be hailed at once by deconstructionists and traditionalists as respectively an exemplary poststructuralist text and a Menippean satire. Indeed were it not for the fact that the same David Lodge’s scholarly serial contributions to The Independent on Sunday on The Art of Fiction were not printed until 1991-92 readers of Mr Barnes’ effort might be forgiven for postulating that the author had swallowed the entire Lodge collection and regurgitated it into a single literary bowl of Bovary Potage.

Beginning: check. Intrusive Author: check. Point of View: check. Names: check. Sense of Place: check. Lists: check. Surprise: check. Time shift: check. Weather: check. Repetition: check. Repetition: check. Intertextuality: check. Experimental Novel: check. Comic Novel: check. Telling in Different Voices: check. Coincidence: check. Chapters: check. Title: check. Ideas: check. Non-fiction Novel: check. Metafiction: check. Ending: check.

But author John Updike, reviewing for the New Yorker in 1985 and taking umbrage with a perceived cavalier approach to the genre, was less convinced that Flaubert’s Parrot even qualified as a novel:

...if the book is, as its dust jacket shyly claims, “a novel in disguise … a novel that constantly surprises,” it is the most strangely shaped specimen of its genre (that I have read) since Vladimir Nabokov’s ‘Pale Fire’. On the other hand, if it is a biographical-critical treatise on a dead writer, it is the oddest and most whimsical such since Nabokov’s ‘Nikolai Gogol’.

- John Updike, A Pair of Parrots, New Yorker, 22 July 19851

Julian Barnes’ Flaubert’s Parrot was published in 1984 by Picador. In Britain it was shortlisted for the Booker fiction prize and in France it was awarded the Prix Medici for the best work of belles-lettres by a foreign writer.

2: Chronology

1821Gustave Flaubert is born in Rouen, France, the second son of Achille, a surgeon, and Ann. He would be described a century and a half later as L’Idiot de la famille by Jean-Paul Sartre.
1842Flaubert studies law and, in 1843, fails his first year examinations. He does not pursue a career in law.
1857Flaubert’s Madame Bovary is published in France. It is both controversial and lauded as a masterpiece.
1861Flaubert is made a chevalier of the Légion d'honneur.
1877Trois Contes is published in France. Un Cœur Simple is the tale of a servant named Félicité who came to believe that her stuffed parrot, Loulou, was the Holy Ghost.
1880Full of honour, widely loved, and still working hard to the end, Gustave Flaubert dies at Croisset.
1946Julian Barnes is born in Leicester, England on 19th January: his mother had hoped for a girl who would be called Josephine. His father will describe an older brother, Jonathan, as the cleverer child. “Grandpa introduced my brother to death —and its messiness— better than he did me.2.
1956When Barnes is ten, the family move to Northwood, a suburb in northwest London on the Metropolitan Line. Did he dislike it? “...Yeah, I did actually. I did hate it. That’s true. I loathed it...3. Barnes’ mother thinks that her younger son has too much imagination. Barnes will write that he loved his father more, whereas he could “only be irritatedly fond of” his mother.
195913-year old Barnes, accompanied by his parents and older sibling, visits France for the first time. It is the first of a number of such family holidays. In 1997, he will make this crossing for the last time whilst accompanied by his parents: Barnes’ task will be to scatter their ashes on the Côte Atlantique.
1964Barnes goes up to Oxford to study languages at Magdalen College. It was hardly a glittering academic progress4.
1969Works as a lexicographer on a supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary specializing in profanity and sport5.
1972Studies law and passes the bar exam in 1974. He will not pursue a career in law.
1973Meets Martin Amis and begins reviewing books for the Times Literary Supplement where Amis is an editor. In 1977 Barnes follows Amis to the New Statesman to become deputy literary editor. It is a relationship that will falter acrimoniously in 1995 with Barnes writing to Amis a letter containing a phrase consisting of seven letters three of which are Fs.
1978Meets and in 1979 marries literary agent Pat Kavanagh. In 1992, Jeanette Winterson, author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985), will upset Barnes by publicizing that she and Pat Kavanagh have had an affair.
1984Barnes’ third novel, Flaubert’s Parrot, is published.
What is a novel?
What is, indeed, the story, with its beginning, and end, of Flaubert’s Parrot?

- John Updike
I wish he'd shut up about Flaubert.

- Kingsley Amis
The book is overlooked for the Booker Prize.
Three years ago, when I was short-listed for my novel Flaubert’s Parrot, I was introduced after the ceremony to one of the judges, who said to me: ‘I hadn’t even heard of this fellow Flaubert before I read your book. But afterwards I sent out for all his novels in paperback...
...novelists had better conclude that the only sensible attitude to the Booker is to treat it as posh bingo. It is El Gordo, the Fat One, the sudden jackpot that enriches some plodding Andalusian muleteer6

- Julian Barnes8
1988England England is overlooked for the Booker Prize.
2005Arthur & George is overlooked for the Booker Prize.
2011Barnes’ time-curdled words of acceptance result in the author of The Sense of An Ending being labelled as possibly one of the least gracious Man Booker Prize winners ever9.
I didn't want to go to my grave and get a Beryl.

- Julian Barnes, [referring to the posthumous award given to perennial ‘Booker bridesmaid’ Beryl Bainbridge].
1946Julian Barnes is born in Leicester, England on 19th January, the younger of two brothers. His parents, Albert and Kaye are both teachers of French. It is a stable, enlightened, encouraging and normally ambitious background.
1956When Julian is ten, the family move to Northwood, a suburb in northwest London on the Metropolitan Line. Did he like it? “...I quite liked it at the time. I mean, I didn’t hate it I don’t think...”. Julian attends the City of London School on a scholarship.
1959At the age of 13, Julian, accompanied by his parents and older sibling, visits France for the first time. It is the first of a number of such family holidays.
1964Julian goes up to Oxford to study languages at Magdalen, and is rewarded (after spending the 1966-67 academic year teaching English in France) with a BA(Hons) in 1968.
1969Works as a lexicographer on a supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary: “It may have made me a better Scrabble player, but only in the range of words beginning with C, D, E, F or G...”10.
1972Studies law and passes the bar exam in 1974.
1973Meets Martin Amis and begins reviewing books for the Times Literary Supplement where Amis is an editor. In 1977 Julian follows Amis to the New Statesman to become deputy literary editor. He also writes under cover as Edward Pygge (News Review) and Basil Seal (Tatler).
1978Meets and in 1979 marries the highly-rated literary agent Pat Kavanagh. Although Julian never shares her passion for dancing, they enjoy an exceptionally close and mutually supportive marriage.
1980Under the nom de plume Dan Kavanagh, Julian Barnes’ writing career is launched with the publication of Duffy, a formula detective novel about a bi-sexual ex-police officer. The full Duffy franchise comprises Fiddle City (1981), Putting the Boot In (1985) and Going to the Dogs (1987).
1980Under his real name Julian Barnes, Julian Barnes’ writing career is launched with the publication of Metroland which wins, in 1981, the Somerset Maugham Award. This is followed in 1982 by publication of Before She Met Me.
1980Julian Barnes succeeds Clive James as The Observer's TV critic
1984Flaubert’s Parrot is greeted with a critical ticker-tape parade, roundly lauded by the literati.
An intricate and delightful novel

- Graham Greene
Endless food for thought and beautifully written

- Germaine Greer
Handsomely the best novel published in England in 1984

- John Fowles
Flaubert’s Parrot is rewarded with a Booker Prize nomination (1984); the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize (1985), and the Prix Médicis (1986).
1998England England is shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
2005Arthur & George is shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
2011The Sense of an Ending wins its author Julian Barnes the Booker Prize.
[The best novel is] the one I'm about to write or the one I've just finished writing. If I thought I had written my best novel already, I'd find that depressing... I'm very attached to Flaubert's Parrot.

- Julian Barnes

3: Finders Keepers

Network: Any thing reticulated, or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections.

- Dr Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1755)
You can define a net in one of two ways, depending on your point of view. Normally, you would say that it is a meshed instrument designed to catch fish. But you could, with no great injury to logic, reverse the image and define a net as a jocular lexicographer once did: he called it a collection of holes tied together with string.

- Flaubert’s Parrot (1985)

tendentious /ˈtenˈdenSHəs/ adj.
There will always be the one that got away. And even a well-cast net can return ripe with red herring. What about Winterson/Winterton for example? Or Brathwaite/Braithwaite and Winstanley/Winstanley? Moreover, like Geoffrey Braithwaite, we too might speculate whether or not Flaubert may have named the his greyhound Julio, after Juliet Herbert. For instance was the parrot ‘Loulou’ named for Louise Colet, with whom Flaubert had a lengthy affair? And what about Jane and Alice, a prickly pair of fictional Barnesian middle-aged novelists? Julian and Amis do you think... with Alice the slut showing too much decolletage?

4: The Flaubert Bestiary

parrot /ˈparət/ n. A person who mindlessly and mechanically repeats the words and actions of another.

The author in his book must be like God in his universe, everywhere present and nowhere visible.

- Gustave Flaubert

In Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert’s narration remains, beyond a brief opening appearance, in omniscient abeyance. In Flaubert’s Parrot Mr Barnes is cunning, turning narrational absence on its head and giving the reader the conversational, intrusive and self-referential narrator Geoffrey Braithwaite. Mr Barnes, a known francophone and francophile, even credits Braithwaite upfront for having provided the translations. But as the reader is drip-fed Braithwaite’s story, Mr Braithwaite and Monsieur Bovary converge like railway tracks in the distance: each fictional, each a Doctor, each a cuckold, each a widower, each man broken by the suicide of a wife that didn’t love him.

5: Snap!

Julian Barnes abandons a career in law to pursue literary endeavours.

Gustave Flaubert abandons a career in law to pursue literary endeavours.

Gustave Flaubert fails his professional examinations.

Charles Bovary fails his professional examinations.

Charles Bovary’s wife Emma Bovary does not love him.

Geoffrey Braithwaite’s wife Elaine Braithwaite does not love him.

Geoffrey Braithwaite is the fictional narrator of Flaubert’s Parrot.

Julian Barnes is the nonfictional author of Flaubert’s Parrot.

6: Emma Bovary's Eyes

A critic’s allusion to the fluctuating colour of Emma Bovary’s eyes catalyses Geoffrey Braithwaite to vent angrily at the critic.

Life … is a bit like reading. … If all your responses to a book have already been duplicated and expanded upon by a professional critic, then what point is there to your reading? Only that it’s yours. Similarly, why live your life? Because it’s yours. But what if such an answer becomes less and less convincing?
- Geoffrey Braithwaite, Flaubert’s Parrot
I think the critic should assume that their word carries no weight at all otherwise you get into a state of preening self-importance. Occasionally things will happen to encourage you in the fallacy that your word carries some weight.
- Julian Barnes, Interview with Mick Sinclair, February 198611
Most critics rush through an inadequate plot-summary in order to get to what really interests them – their Olympian judgment. Judgement should, however, emerge through summary of the book.... How far can a critic go with my novels and not upset me? As far as he likes, because nowadays I don’t read criticism of my work. In the past it’s been a support for the ego, never the slightest help in writing the next book. So I’ve given it up. Giving up criticism is much easier than giving up alcohol or tobacco, I can tell you.
- Julian Barnes, Interview with Lidia Vianu, 200612

But what Madame Bovary’s eyes saw allows Mr Barnes to push another popular Barnesian barrow: the elusiveness of the past and the reliability of historical reportage. Mr Barnes’ ouevre is brimful of the view that 'History isn't what happened. History is just what historians tell us’.

Little by little, the faces she had seen became confused in her memory. She forgot the tune to which they had danced the quadrille. The liveries of the servants, and the furniture of the rooms, lost their former precision. Details faded but regret remained.

- Madame Bovary (1857)
How do we seize the past? Can we ever do so? When I was a medical student some pranksters at an end-of-term dance released into the hall a piglet which had been smeared with grease. It squirmed between legs, evaded capture, squealed a lot. People fell over trying to grasp it, and were made to look ridiculous in the process. The past often seems to behave like that piglet.

- Geoffrey Braithwaite (narrator), Flaubert’s Parrot (1985)
But as soon as she took a pen in her hand, the Leon she saw in imagination became a totally different being from the Leon whom she knew - a synthetic figure compounded of things remembered, things read and loved in books and the images created by her own insatiable passion.
- Madame Bovary (1857)

7: Cross Channel

Does the world progress? Or does it merely shuttle back and forth like a ferry?

- Flaubert's Parrot

While the English claim the English Channel as their own, as if naming it thus implies some sort of territorial rights, the French are more subtle employing La Manche (The Sleeve) to keep the unwanted angles and saxons at arm’s length. Ignoring the implied brush-off Julian Barnes, a francophone and a francophile, is an inveterate channel crosser, both in real life and in the fiction he crafts.

Q.Is France for you what New York is for Martin Amis?
A.Yes, it is my other country. There is something about it — its history, its landscape — that obviously sparks my imagination, or one area of my imagination. It's a language I know well, it's a literature I know well.13
  • Gustav Flaubert visits England in 1851, 1865, 1866 and 1877.
  • In 1959, Julian Barnes went across the channel on holiday.
  • In 1966, Julian Barnes went across the channel to teach English in France.
  • In 1968, Christopher Lloyd (Metroland, 1990) loses his virginity in Paris.
  • Cross Channel is a chapter of Flaubert’s Parrot (1985). Geoffrey Braithwaite is crossing the channel in pursuit of Flaubert.
  • In June 1994, New Yorker magazine publishes Julian Barnes’ regular ‘Letter from London’. It is called ‘Froggy! Froggy! Froggy!’ and offers Mr Barnes’ perspective of the Channel Tunnel.
  • Cross Channel (1996) is a collection of short stories by Julian Barnes that explore the connections, similarities, and differences between England and France. One such story is entitled ‘Tunnel’.
  • Something to Declare (2002) is collection of essays on the subject of France and French culture. Subjects include the Tour de France, French food, and Gustave Flaubert.
In 1997, I went to France with my parents for the last time. For once I was taking them, rather than the other way round. My mother had died a few months previously, my father in 1992, and I was transporting their ashes towards a final scattering on the Côte Atlantique.

- Julian Barnes14

8: The Train-spotter's Guide to Flaubert

And you do come out of it, that’s true. After a year, after five. But you don’t come out of it like a train coming out of a tunnel, bursting through the downs into sunshine and that swift, rattling descent to the Channel; you come out of it as a gull comes out of an oil-slick. You are tarred and feathered for life.

- Geoffrey Braithwaite (on grief) Flaubert's Parrot
Voici Le Shuttle crossing the Chunnel,
Crass contraction of channel and tunnel,
Opened by the Queen, ouverte par Mitterrand,
Enter at Coquelles, sortir à Cheriton.
The Trans-manche link is now
the Bouvardian nightmare
Mais pardonnez-moi Monsieur,
‘ave you Something to Declare?

9: The Flaubert Apocrypha

These are not the books Gustave Flaubert did not write but instead those which Julian Barnes has written.

Metroland (1980)A story in three parts. Christopher and Toni have a healthy Flaubertian disgust for the bourgeoisie.
Before She Met Me (1982)Love and Jealousy: the Pandora’s Box that is a lover’s past is best left unopened.
Flaubert's Parrot (1984)Love, adultery, suicide, metafiction, viewpoint, history, chapters in three parts, lost letters.
Staring at the Sun (1986)Questioning truth. A story in three parts. It is also a narrative about an ordinary woman. Like Madame Bovary.
A History of the World in 10½ Chapters (1989)Love, metafiction, viewpoint, history, stories in three parts.
Talking it Over (1991)Love, adultery.
The Porcupine (1992)Questioning history and nationalism.
Letters from London (1995)Journalism from the New Yorker.
Cross Channel (1996)Short stories about England and France. And the wet bit in between.
England, England (1998)The title is a double entendre, evoking through intertextuality George Orwell’s essay on national spirit “England Your England”, while doubling up as a destination within a destination in the style of New York, New York. England, England calls into question the idea of replicas, truth vs. fiction, reality vs. art, nationhood, myth-making, and self-exploration. It is a story in three parts.
Love, etc (2000)Barnes revisits the protagonists of Talking it Over (1991) allowing them to talk to the reader, to give their version of the truth. Context/perspective.
Something to Declare (2002)A collection of essays on the subject of France and French culture... Subjects include the Tour de France, French food, and, of course, Gustave Flaubert.
The Pedant in the Kitchen (2003)Journalism about cooking.
The Lemon Table (2004)Short stories about old age and death. Several of them are in three parts. One of them, Knowing French, is about Flaubert’s Parrot, and lost letters.
Arthur & George (2005)Crime fiction.
Nothing to Be Frightened Of (2008)Memoir. About death.
Pulse (2011)Short stories all attuned to rhythms and currents. In ‘East Wind’ a divorced estate agent falls in love with a European waitress, but is tempted, despite his happiness, to investigate her past (cf. Before She Met Me (1982)).
The Sense of an Ending (2011)Separation, divorce, suicide. But then how do you carry on, contentedly, when events conspire to upset all your vaunted truths?

Books that have not been written by Julian Barnes include:

  • Foucault’s Pendulum

  • Pythagoras’ Trousers
  • Einstein’s Brain
  • Tolstoy’s Gerbil
  • Victor Hugo’s Dachshund
  • Lindbergh's Sandwiches
  • Pushkin's Button
  • Audubon's Elephant
  • Hockney’s Alphabet
  • Adams’ Ark

10: The Case Against

Julian Barnes has yet to appear on a postage stamp.

11: Louise Colet's Version

The story of an adultery, for instance - any adultery - will affect us differently according to whether it is presented primarily from the point of view of the unfaithful person, or the injured spouse, or the lover, or as observed by some fourth party. Madame Bovary narrated mainly from the point of view of Charles Bovary would be a very different book from the one we know.

- David Lodge, The Art of Fiction (1992)

There will always be a different perspective. Like Martin Amis's, or Jeanette Winterson's. Or Charles Bovary’s15.

McGrath: So Flaubert’s Parrot in a sense is Madame Bovary from Charles’s point of view.
Barnes: Yes, though I think my character, Geoffrey, is smarter than Charles Bovary...17

12: Braithwaite’s Dictionary of Accepted Ideas

In 1995, Martin Amis defects from long-serving literary agent Pat Kavanagh (Julian Barnes’ wife) to take up representation by Andrew “the Jackal” Wylie. Mr Barnes takes umbrage and writes to Mr Amis a letter containing a phrase consisting of seven letters three of which are Fs. The rift is cleverly reprised in fiction in 2004. In Knowing French, a short story which appears in The Lemon Table, Sylvia Winstanley writes that having read all the library’s fiction filed under A, she now has “read many entertaining descriptions of pubs, and much voyeurism on women’s breasts...”.


Sylvia Winstanley (q.v. AMIS) writes to first to Dr Barnes, and then subsequently to Mr Barnes asking why he said he was a doctor. Both Geoffrey Braithwaite and Charles Bovary are doctors and cuckolds. Both have wives that commit suicide.


See Manche, La.


Unreliable Narrators are invariably invented characters who are part of the stories they tell... Even a character-narrator cannot be a hundred per cent unreliable. If everything he or she says is palpably false, that only tells us what we know already, namely that a novel is a work of fiction. There must be some possibility of discriminating between truth and falsehood within the imagined world of the novel, as there is in the real world, for the story to engage our interest. The point of using an unreliable narrator is indeed to reveal in an interesting way the gap between appearance and reality, and to show how human beings distort or conceal the latter.
- David Lodge18


Emma Bovary = Elaine Braithwaite?


Snap! There are two, both fictional creations of Gustave Flaubert. One is servant to the Bovary household, the other the central character in Un Cœur Simple.


Julian Barnes is a Flaubertista. Or a Flaubertophile.


History: An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

History. The more of it you have the more you have to live it. After a little while there gets to be too much of it to memorize and maybe that's when empires start to decline.

- John Updike
...When you are the most powerful country in the world, as Britain used to be, you tend to celebrate only your power; you don't appreciate difference or otherness, you only see it as inferiority. And you don't see your history as a moral, exploited, or inferior power does. But I think America is a special case, as opposed to Britain, in terms of having short-term memory.
- Julian Barnes19


I. Indeed.


Author, francophone, francophile and fierce disciple of Gustav Flaubert.


Dan Kavanagh is Julian Barnes.

Pat Kavanagh is Julian Barnes’ wife.

Julie Kavanagh is Pat Kavanagh’s half-sister. Starting in 1974, she had a three-year affair with Martin Amis.


L, don't miss out the “L” or you'll start turning me into a Parisian grocer.


See Cross Channel.

Not to be confused with Don Quixote de La Mancha.


Something Julian Barnes is frightened of.


History, context and memory, love, adultery, suicide, death and separation and Flaubert are recurring themes throughout the eclectic Julian Barnes bibliography.


To Pat” or “To P.K.” or “To P.” is a dedication common in the works of Julian Barnes.
Both Pulse, a collection of short stories, and the 2011 Booker Prize winning The Sense of an Ending are dedicated “For Pat”.


Where would we be without Cervantes’ Don Quixote de La Mancha?

Je retrouve toutes mes origins dans le livre que je savais par coeur avant de savoir lire, Don Quichotte.
- Gustave Flaubert.

Emma Bovary, like Don Quixote, is seduced by fiction.

RIMMINGTON, STELLA, CHAIR of the 2011 Booker Prize Panel

Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending has the markings of a classic of English Literature. It is exquisitely written, subtly plotted and reveals new depths with each reading.


The critic of Flaubert that ignites Geoffrey Braithwaite’s (and puppet-master Barnes’?) choler.


Memory, though, is imperfect
That's one of the central problems of history, isn't it, sir? The question of subjective versus objective interpretation, the fact that we need to know the history of the historian in order to understand the version that is being put in front of us.
There are two suicides ...
Tony is in middle age. He's had a career and a marriage, a calm divorce.
I thought he was neither hero nor anti-hero but narrator. The drama had all happened elsewhere and he was telling their story. He just seemed to think it was all about him.21

- Researcher U14983202
I did find the protagnoist/narrator annoying, and I found it curious that he choose to tell the story through someone who was only involved in such a peripheral way. I wonder if it would have been better if told from the point of view of Veronica's mother.22

- Researcher U185843


The most sinister word in the English language:

Remember it from frightening stories in childhood: Unless this isn’t the door we came in by…

Imagine it in bankruptcy: Unless I’ve misread the figures…

Fear it close to home: Unless, of course, I don’t love you anymore….

Mmm, isn’t the word sinister apt here? Such a coiled and loaded little onomatopeia: roll it around in your mouth and see how it sneaks in through the window and slides up the staircase…

- Julian Barnes in Hockney’s Alphabet


Perhaps the only man who loves Emma Bovary (and hence Gustav Flaubert: “Madame Bovary, c’est moi”) even more than Julian Barnes does23.


Sylvia Winstanley is the fictional letter writer in Knowing French who seems to confuse the non-fictional Mr Barnes with the fictional Dr Braithwaite. The fictional letters of response to Ms Winstanley are then lost reminding us that Flaubert’s perhaps apocryphal letters to Juliet Herbert are lost (destroyed by Winterton) in Flaubert’s Parrot. And is it a coincidence that in an entirely different literary circumstance Syliva Winstanley’s granddaughter is Sylvia Brathwaite24?


The letter X is going to be a problem, I can see. There's nothing under X in Flaubert's own Dictionary. And there is no record of Julian Barnes ever having played the xylophone.


A periodical, for which Julian Barnes would write a “Letter from London”. Periodically. From 1990 to 1994.


Is the great writer responsible for his disciples? Who chooses whom? If they call you Master, can you afford to despise their work? On the other hand, are they sincere in their praise? Who needs whom more: the disciple the master, or the master the disciple? Discuss without concluding.25

13: Pure Story

We must believe in [love], or we're lost. We may not obtain it, or we may obtain it and find it renders us unhappy; we must still believe in it. If we don't, then we merely surrender to the history of the world and to someone else's truth.
- Julian Barnes26

She was born in 1940, married in 1979, and died in 2008.

We should start again.

She was born in 1940.

She was beautiful and clever and loved to laugh.27

He married her 1979. He was the lucky man.

He took her name to launch his writing career before reverting to his own: it is a writing career littered with angst about love and separation and adultery and death.

Her affair with Jeanette Winterson during the 1980s is said to have inspired Winterson’s 1987 novel The Passion.

He was fiercely loyal to her. His friend’s defection to a rival literary agent in 1995 caused a monumental possibly irreparable rift in his relationship with his erstwhile friend, Martin Amis.

American novelist Jay McInerney observed that their harmonious, hard-working life together made a great case for childlessness.28

In 2007 he wrote movingly (in Marriage Lines) of a widower harvesting memories one picture postcard view at a time.

His 2008 memoir Nothing to be Afraid of is a meditation on mortality and the fear of death.

In 2008, she died, suddenly and unexpectedly, of a brain tumour.

14: Examination Paper

This Page is Intentionally Not Left Blank.

Post Diploma

Advanced Level : Breaching Peer Review

Candidates must answer ALL questions in the space provided. All marks will be awarded for logic, rationale and substantiation; none for presentation or typing prowess. Marks will be deducted for facetious or conceitedly brief answers. Time: One Week.

Question 1

Is this Entry suitable for the Edited Guide? Discuss. Candidates are encouraged to cite precedent as well as conventional dogma.

Question 2

Describe and discuss modifications that can be made to render this Entry suitable for the Edited Guide. Provide updated GuideML and references.

Question 3

Which Julian Barnes short story was featured in the May 2011 edition of Playboy Magazine?

15: And the Parrot…

Read the book.

1Odd Jobs, by John Updike (1991)2Julian Barnes' Brisk Inquiry Into Death's Meaning, NPR, 22 September 20083Chameleon Novelist
By Mira Stout, New York Times, 22 November 1992
4Julian Barnes, The Art of Fiction No. 165: Interviewed by Shusha Guppy, The Paris Review, Winter 20005Understanding Julian Barnes By Merritt Moseley, University of South Carolina Press, 19976A direct reference to The Family Idiot: Gustave Flaubert, 1821-1857 By Jean-Paul Sartre.77Could Sartre (and then Barnes) be alluding to Sancho Panza?8Julian Barnes, Diary, London Review of Books, 12 November 19879Triumph at last for Julian Barnes, The Independent, 20 October 201110Deconstructing Julian Barnes, Today in Literature11Interview with Julian Barnes, The Mick Sinclair Archive, February 198612Interview with Julian Barnes, LIDIA VIANU, Desperado Essay-Interviews, Editura Universitatii din Bucuresti, 200613Old Fartery and Literary Dish, The Salon Interview, by Carl Swanson14Intro: Something to Declare by Julian Barnes, The Guardian, 12 January 200215Umberto Eco tells us16 that in 1991, Italian novelist Laura Grimaldi wrote a Monsieur Bovary, but it is a sequel, not a change in perspective.16Sequels, How to Travel with a Salmon, Umberto Eco (1994)17Conversations with Julian Barnes, Edited by Vanessa Guignery18The Art of Fiction, #34, The Unreliable Author19Interview with George Lewis: Julian and Arthur and George, February 2006.2020Julian Barnes - Quotes, The European Graduate School21Conversation Forum for The 2011 h2g2 Booker Prize22Conversation Forum for The 2011 h2g2 Booker Prize23The Perpetual Orgy Flaubert and Madame Bovary, Mario Vargas Llosa.24The Lives and Letters of an Eighteenth-Century Circle of Acquaintance, Temma Berg25ZOLA, EMILE
Is the great writer responsible for his disciples? Who chooses whom? If they call you Master, can you afford to despise their work? On the other hand, are they sincere in their praise? Who needs whom more: the disciple the master, or the master the disciple? Discuss without concluding.
26Parenthesis, A History of the World in 10½ Chapters (1989)27Clive James, The Guardian 21 October 200828Obituary, Pat Kavanagh, The Telegraph 21 October 2008

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