Peter Childs
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Pleasure in form
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Appraising the work of a living writer is unlikely to cover the entire oeuvre because fresh works may appear. In the case of Julian Barnes, it is also true that he prefers not to be written about by critics, partly because it makes him feel entombed rather than a living voice. As pertinently, Barnes would prefer not to be mediated by the entire book industry. The belief in the importance of ‘the words’ alone is a viewpoint that Barnes shares with the nineteenth-century French novelist Gustave Flaubert. Barnes's fiction reflects a wide array of approaches but settles on a combination of social satire, Swiftian irony and experimentation. For the most part, Barnes is a comic novelist. Ironic comedy and false memory are two of the poles around which Julian Barnes's work revolves.

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