web site hit counter Something to Declare: Essays on France - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Something to Declare: Essays on France

Availability: Ready to download

Julian Barnes's long and passionate relationship with la belle France began more than forty years ago, and in these essays on the country and the culture he combines a keen appreciation, a seemingly infinite sphere of reference, and prose as stylish as classic haute couture. Barnes's vision of France-"The Land Without Brussels Sprouts"-embraces its vanishing peasantry; its Julian Barnes's long and passionate relationship with la belle France began more than forty years ago, and in these essays on the country and the culture he combines a keen appreciation, a seemingly infinite sphere of reference, and prose as stylish as classic haute couture. Barnes's vision of France-"The Land Without Brussels Sprouts"-embraces its vanishing peasantry; its vanished hyper-literate pop singers, Georges Brassens, Boris Vian, and Jacques Brel ("[he] sang at the world as if it… could be saved from its follies and brutalities by his vocal embrace"); and the gleeful iconoclasm of its nouvelle vague cinema ("'The Underpass in Modern French Film' is a thesis waiting to be written"). He describes the elegant tour of France that Henry James and Edith Wharton made in 1907, and the orgy of drugs and suffering of the Tour de France in our own time. An unparalleled connoisseur of French writing and writers, Barnes gives us his thoughts on the prolific and priapic Simenon, on Sand, Baudelaire, and Mallarmé ("If literature is a spectrum, and Hugo hogs the rainbow, then Mallarmé is working in ultra-violet"). In several dazzling excursions into the prickly genius of Flaubert, Barnes discusses his letters; his lover Louise Colet; and his biographers (Sartre's The Family Idiot, "an intense, unfinished, three-volume growl at Flaubert, is mad, of course"). He delves into Flaubert's friendship with Turgenev; looks at the "faithful betrayal" of Claude Chabrol's film version of Madame Bovary; and reveals the importance of the pharmacist's assistant, the most major minor character in Flaubert's great novel: "if Madame Bovary were a mansion, Justin would be the handle to the back door; but great architects have the design of door-furniture in mind even as they lay out the west wing." For lovers of France and all things French-and of Julian Barnes's singular wit and intelligence-Something to Declare is an unadulterated joy to read.


Compare

Julian Barnes's long and passionate relationship with la belle France began more than forty years ago, and in these essays on the country and the culture he combines a keen appreciation, a seemingly infinite sphere of reference, and prose as stylish as classic haute couture. Barnes's vision of France-"The Land Without Brussels Sprouts"-embraces its vanishing peasantry; its Julian Barnes's long and passionate relationship with la belle France began more than forty years ago, and in these essays on the country and the culture he combines a keen appreciation, a seemingly infinite sphere of reference, and prose as stylish as classic haute couture. Barnes's vision of France-"The Land Without Brussels Sprouts"-embraces its vanishing peasantry; its vanished hyper-literate pop singers, Georges Brassens, Boris Vian, and Jacques Brel ("[he] sang at the world as if it… could be saved from its follies and brutalities by his vocal embrace"); and the gleeful iconoclasm of its nouvelle vague cinema ("'The Underpass in Modern French Film' is a thesis waiting to be written"). He describes the elegant tour of France that Henry James and Edith Wharton made in 1907, and the orgy of drugs and suffering of the Tour de France in our own time. An unparalleled connoisseur of French writing and writers, Barnes gives us his thoughts on the prolific and priapic Simenon, on Sand, Baudelaire, and Mallarmé ("If literature is a spectrum, and Hugo hogs the rainbow, then Mallarmé is working in ultra-violet"). In several dazzling excursions into the prickly genius of Flaubert, Barnes discusses his letters; his lover Louise Colet; and his biographers (Sartre's The Family Idiot, "an intense, unfinished, three-volume growl at Flaubert, is mad, of course"). He delves into Flaubert's friendship with Turgenev; looks at the "faithful betrayal" of Claude Chabrol's film version of Madame Bovary; and reveals the importance of the pharmacist's assistant, the most major minor character in Flaubert's great novel: "if Madame Bovary were a mansion, Justin would be the handle to the back door; but great architects have the design of door-furniture in mind even as they lay out the west wing." For lovers of France and all things French-and of Julian Barnes's singular wit and intelligence-Something to Declare is an unadulterated joy to read.

30 review for Something to Declare: Essays on France

  1. 5 out of 5

    Whitaker

    I think the something that needs to be declared is that the title is a gross misnomer. It would be far more accurate to call it Essays on Flaubert and French Culture. The bulk of the essays in this volume deal with Flaubert, his life, and his work. The non-Flaubert essays are a delight to read. His Flaubert essays, while informative, go on for too long. Sorry, Mr Barnes, but I didn’t really need all that detail about his agonising over his writing. And for those with an interest in Barnes's take I think the something that needs to be declared is that the title is a gross misnomer. It would be far more accurate to call it Essays on Flaubert and French Culture. The bulk of the essays in this volume deal with Flaubert, his life, and his work. The non-Flaubert essays are a delight to read. His Flaubert essays, while informative, go on for too long. Sorry, Mr Barnes, but I didn’t really need all that detail about his agonising over his writing. And for those with an interest in Barnes's take on Flaubert, I would suggest the more interesting Flaubert's Parrot instead.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nick Jones

    Julian Barnes is famous for his Francophilia. Here is a collection of essays about France, many originally published as book reviews. The first half of the book glances over a number of aspects of France: food, cycling, songs, the cinema (Truffaut and Godard)... Barnes is always witty and civilized, caring deeply about the country and its culture. But the France he loves is that of the rural and the small towns, the France he visited on family holidays as a child. And there always remains someth Julian Barnes is famous for his Francophilia. Here is a collection of essays about France, many originally published as book reviews. The first half of the book glances over a number of aspects of France: food, cycling, songs, the cinema (Truffaut and Godard)... Barnes is always witty and civilized, caring deeply about the country and its culture. But the France he loves is that of the rural and the small towns, the France he visited on family holidays as a child. And there always remains something of the cultivated English tourist about Barnes. There is a mourning over the loss of this France: the country is changing and not for the better: you can no longer be guaranteed a decent meal if you go to the local small town restaurant. Although Barnes identifies with the liberal-left, there is something deeply conservative about this: where Barnes can deplore the loss of a unique national French culture as it is engulfed by a homogenising multi-national influences (down with Starbucks and McDonalds!), this threat to a national culture can also be used to exclude immigrants and all who do not gel with the historical norms. It is significant that Barnes has no interest in the multi-cultural mix of the large cities and any promise of an evolving French culture. (When he writes about a subject I know a little about – French cinema – although his views remain wittily entertaining, there is also a certain obviousness about them.) The second half of the collection focuses on French literature, which for Barnes means Gustave Flaubert. If you want a review of anything to do with Flaubert, Barnes is the man to come to. But this narrows the interests of the book: if you are interested in Flaubert I am sure there will be much to catch your attention, but the original exploration of France and Frenchness is lost. (Unless you identify Flaubert with France...and maybe Barnes does.)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Girish

    Why do you do this Mr.Barnes? Something to Declare : Essays on France is one of the most misleading titles you could have had for this book. Starts out decent enough with an very endearing essay on the love-hate you have for France as a Brit in his trademark wit and prose. Essay after essay, he talks about what constituted his memory of France - the singers, the movies, the Tour-de-France. After around 6 chapters - the book changes shape - completely. The next 7 chapters were something you were n Why do you do this Mr.Barnes? Something to Declare : Essays on France is one of the most misleading titles you could have had for this book. Starts out decent enough with an very endearing essay on the love-hate you have for France as a Brit in his trademark wit and prose. Essay after essay, he talks about what constituted his memory of France - the singers, the movies, the Tour-de-France. After around 6 chapters - the book changes shape - completely. The next 7 chapters were something you were not warned about. Flaubert and using him as a prism, his contacts, his books, his correspondence. What a presumptuous coup! Had this been part of a book like Flaubert's parrot, I would have subscribed to it - since I knew what I was subscribing for. I could not forgive him his deception - despite liking parts of what he had written. There are some portions which were pretty good - like the role of side characters in a novel or the film vs book debate. Early on, I even liked the research into each of his subjects. This is more an essay on the author's France. He becomes the prism to interpret art, music, literature and sport. In literature, he makes his favorite author Flaubert the prism for every other individual - hence we see all his observations colored. I hope to meet Mr.Barnes one day and ask him 'Why?'. And yet, I know I will pick his next book - maybe after doing my research.

  4. 5 out of 5

    jennifer

    This book of essays covers many of the topics that are recognized as French territory: filmmaker Truffaut and the New Wave, the Tour de France, the singers of the 50's-60's who moaned on finding out that they were sharing their mistresses with others. And then there are the nine, yes nine, chapters on Barnes' favorite writer, Flaubert. The writing is engaging from the beginning as Barnes describes his family vacations around France year after year, and his growing sense of comfort with the French This book of essays covers many of the topics that are recognized as French territory: filmmaker Truffaut and the New Wave, the Tour de France, the singers of the 50's-60's who moaned on finding out that they were sharing their mistresses with others. And then there are the nine, yes nine, chapters on Barnes' favorite writer, Flaubert. The writing is engaging from the beginning as Barnes describes his family vacations around France year after year, and his growing sense of comfort with the French culture. I especially appreciated his chapter on those singers such as Jacques Brel and Georges Brassens (though I can't understand why my favorite, Serge Gainsborg wasn't included) and the one on author Georges Simenon was full of decadent scandal and therefore wonderful. But you should probably really, really like Flaubert in order to get through those eight chapters which discuss not just his work, but his childhood, his affairs and the many pages on whether or not he burned his ex-girlfriend's love letters. Barnes spends quite some time telling the reader why Satre's bio on Flaubert was wrong. So, I guess I'm saying that if you're not so into Flaubert, the first eight chapters are still good reading, and if you love Flaubert, you'll be happy here.

  5. 5 out of 5

    False

    To say this book is a series of essays about France is like saying seeds become vines--or redwoods. Do you see all of the categories I assigned to this book? It is his childhood experiences in France with his brother and parents. It is Barnes as a young man teaching in a Catholic school in a small village. It is his brother and their shared (not identical) memories. It is his ancestry, his parents lives and deaths, famous French writers (and American and British) and philosophy and religion and To say this book is a series of essays about France is like saying seeds become vines--or redwoods. Do you see all of the categories I assigned to this book? It is his childhood experiences in France with his brother and parents. It is Barnes as a young man teaching in a Catholic school in a small village. It is his brother and their shared (not identical) memories. It is his ancestry, his parents lives and deaths, famous French writers (and American and British) and philosophy and religion and food and travel experiences with it's accordant pleasures and difficulties. SO much I couldn't even begin to deconstruct this accurately without writing pages about one essay. I photocopied so many pages I wanted to write about: the importance of Madame Bovary, Francois Truffaut's movies and his early death, the meaning of special geographic places in the world where you feel centered and whole. I intend to start writing once I get all of my old computer data transferred to this new machine and learn a new version of Windows and Photoshop and more techno stuff that will just not wait but only hamper the longer I delay. And with "that" said, now my book list is up-to-date for tonight.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Huw Rhys

    When Julian Barnes is at his average level, he's brilliant. But he has the capacity to produce self indulgent stuff which doesn't even touch the scale of being vaguely entertaining or educational - and this collection of "essays" (I use the term guardedly) is one of his most stultifying reads yet. Someone needs to tell him that writing long, pernickety bits of art criticism when there is no illustration of the picture under discussion is just a complete no no - yet every few books, he seems to fal When Julian Barnes is at his average level, he's brilliant. But he has the capacity to produce self indulgent stuff which doesn't even touch the scale of being vaguely entertaining or educational - and this collection of "essays" (I use the term guardedly) is one of his most stultifying reads yet. Someone needs to tell him that writing long, pernickety bits of art criticism when there is no illustration of the picture under discussion is just a complete no no - yet every few books, he seems to fall back into this trap. Likewise his obsession with obscure French literary figures, and his superficial opinions on peripheral elements of their work is equally monotonous. He really needs to stop writing about Flaubert every two minutes..... I think there was one story here - the one about doping in the Tour de France - which was vaguely readable. The rest was just utter tosh. He should stick to fiction - he's a brilliant writer, and when he can make up his own endings, his writing is magnificent. He just seems to struggle with stuff where the ending has already been decided - or where there is simply no ending to report.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Fhsanders54

    A series of short stories written in 2002, focusing primarily on Flaubert's family and friends correspondence from the time, plus reviews of previous biographies. Flaubert remains an obsessive fascination for Julian Barnes. However there are other interesting and educational chapters, including a brilliant one on the Tour de France and the changing cocktail of drugs which has accompanied it through the ages! Reflections on 1960s French musicians such as Jacques Brel and George Brassens were info A series of short stories written in 2002, focusing primarily on Flaubert's family and friends correspondence from the time, plus reviews of previous biographies. Flaubert remains an obsessive fascination for Julian Barnes. However there are other interesting and educational chapters, including a brilliant one on the Tour de France and the changing cocktail of drugs which has accompanied it through the ages! Reflections on 1960s French musicians such as Jacques Brel and George Brassens were informative too.He completes the overview of culture, both high and popular with pieces about Truffaut and Godard, the cook Elizabeth David and the traveller Richard Cobb. Wide-ranging, well-written, but a little less on Flaubert wouldn't have gone amiss.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chaitalee Ghosalkar

    This book should be titled 'Something to Declare on France, and Everything else on Flaubert'. I must admit that I did not enjoy Barnes' other book on Gustave Flaubert- Flaubert's Parrot. So you can imagine twice the annoyance when I saw another book dedicated to a relatively unknown author. Seriously, what's with this incessant fangirling? What should have been relegated to one's personal blog, or best, a diary, has been published for the larger world. It also made me feel as though Barnes is try This book should be titled 'Something to Declare on France, and Everything else on Flaubert'. I must admit that I did not enjoy Barnes' other book on Gustave Flaubert- Flaubert's Parrot. So you can imagine twice the annoyance when I saw another book dedicated to a relatively unknown author. Seriously, what's with this incessant fangirling? What should have been relegated to one's personal blog, or best, a diary, has been published for the larger world. It also made me feel as though Barnes is trying to push his liking for Flaubert down the readers's throats. If after Flaubert's Parrot, I had a 3% chance of picking the author's Madame Bovary, that number's gone to zero.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Susan Zinner

    Julian Barnes (author of the outstanding "The Sense of an Ending," which was also made into a movie starring Charlotte Rampling and Jim Broadbent) explores France, including his beloved Flaubert, in this collection of essays about France and French authors. A must for Francophiles... Julian Barnes (author of the outstanding "The Sense of an Ending," which was also made into a movie starring Charlotte Rampling and Jim Broadbent) explores France, including his beloved Flaubert, in this collection of essays about France and French authors. A must for Francophiles...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    I think I would have enjoyed more of this book if I were really interested in Flaubert and other French writers of that era. As it was, I skimmed more of the last half than I care to admit! Barnes' writing is always a treat, though, so it was enjoyable in that sense. I think I would have enjoyed more of this book if I were really interested in Flaubert and other French writers of that era. As it was, I skimmed more of the last half than I care to admit! Barnes' writing is always a treat, though, so it was enjoyable in that sense.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jack Coleman

    Finally something with a challenge to the vocabulary. A man who has worked as a lexicographer Can't be all that bad. A Francophile i am not but it certainly was an entertaining read and got the dust off the dictionary. Atheism Cynicism Misanthropy my kind of book. Finally something with a challenge to the vocabulary. A man who has worked as a lexicographer Can't be all that bad. A Francophile i am not but it certainly was an entertaining read and got the dust off the dictionary. Atheism Cynicism Misanthropy my kind of book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Helle

    3.5 - excellent first half, Barnes is good company, but the second half presupposes a fanatical interest in all things Flaubert...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jay Rothermel

    Decades of personal essays and book reviews covering the author's interactions with France and her literature. Decades of personal essays and book reviews covering the author's interactions with France and her literature.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mia Boddington

    Maybe 3.5, but sadly this was just quite boring

  15. 5 out of 5

    Patryk

    If you love Flaubert so much, why don’t you marry him?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Leow

    ... a Paris which still 9jsuT) contained Edith Wharton, though what fascinated him was popular life rather than literary pilgrimage: the street vendors and flame-swallowers, the strolling musicians and prostitutes, the manacled strong men enjoying 'droit de pave' on the immensely wide pavement'; the world of obscure bars and tiny, four-table restaurants; the exuberance, volubility, and cheerful anarchy of the daily scene. ... He delighted in the pungent Metro and the convivial plateforme d'autob ... a Paris which still 9jsuT) contained Edith Wharton, though what fascinated him was popular life rather than literary pilgrimage: the street vendors and flame-swallowers, the strolling musicians and prostitutes, the manacled strong men enjoying 'droit de pave' on the immensely wide pavement'; the world of obscure bars and tiny, four-table restaurants; the exuberance, volubility, and cheerful anarchy of the daily scene. ... He delighted in the pungent Metro and the convivial plateforme d'autobus, while asserting, and proving, that a city could only be truly known if explored on foot. Cobb's France is not that of the traditional English Francophile, who tends to prefer the south, the countryside, the sun, the deceptively original village. Cobb preferred cities (indeed, he scarcely seems to notice the pastoral) ... He was addicted to walking, but walking in cities; it's not clear whether he ever drove' certainly he favoured public transport, with its opportunities for eavesdropping and casual conversaton. Though a democrat in his social tastes, he saw enough ... to distrust generalized belief systems.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nick Phillips

    I've now read three works by Julian Barnes, have enjoyed all of them and will definitely read others in the future. Having said that I found this collection of essays rather disjointed. If I was interested in the topic then the chapter, such as the ones about French music, French cinema and the Tour de France were really engaging and left me wanting to know more. The elements when Barnes was talking specifically about his own personal experiences with France were also expertly handled and drew m I've now read three works by Julian Barnes, have enjoyed all of them and will definitely read others in the future. Having said that I found this collection of essays rather disjointed. If I was interested in the topic then the chapter, such as the ones about French music, French cinema and the Tour de France were really engaging and left me wanting to know more. The elements when Barnes was talking specifically about his own personal experiences with France were also expertly handled and drew me in but unfortunately well over half the book is about Flaubert, Barnes' own personal obsession but I must admit, not mine. If you want to learn far more about Flaubert than anyone could ever really need to know then add a star or two to the rating, otherwise read and enjoy the bits that work for you. One thing I will say though, after reading Barnes' other Gustave focused work Flaubert's Parrot I went out and bought Madam Bovery and after reading Something to Declare I might just get around to reading it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    James Henderson

    This book collects France-related essays by Julian Barnes written over the course of almost two decades. There are some travel-pieces, and some personal reminiscences, but the bulk of the pieces are essentially book reviews -- and the bulk of those deal with a Barnes favourite, Gustave Flaubert. It does not read like a review-collection, however, as Barnes is in his Montaigne-like mode of writing with the books under discussion often merely a convenient stepping-stone for Barnes to share his own This book collects France-related essays by Julian Barnes written over the course of almost two decades. There are some travel-pieces, and some personal reminiscences, but the bulk of the pieces are essentially book reviews -- and the bulk of those deal with a Barnes favourite, Gustave Flaubert. It does not read like a review-collection, however, as Barnes is in his Montaigne-like mode of writing with the books under discussion often merely a convenient stepping-stone for Barnes to share his own thoughts and knowledge. This is France through the senses and sensibility of Julian Barnes. From the Tour de France to French cooking you get a British perspective of the country. Barnes is a student of the language and literature and includes several essays on Flaubert - well-written and fun to read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Hope

    These are not your usual English-person-writes-about-France essays. There's are no silly stories about trying to buy a baguette, or frustrations about getting work papers or touching moments with a French peasant who gives you advice about how best to renovate your house in Provence. This is a book written by someone who loves French culture (and most of all Flaubert) and is eager to plunge into the fascinating details. Barnes writing is intelligent, well-structured and he's picked subjects he's These are not your usual English-person-writes-about-France essays. There's are no silly stories about trying to buy a baguette, or frustrations about getting work papers or touching moments with a French peasant who gives you advice about how best to renovate your house in Provence. This is a book written by someone who loves French culture (and most of all Flaubert) and is eager to plunge into the fascinating details. Barnes writing is intelligent, well-structured and he's picked subjects he's passionate about and knows well. I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I actually cared anything about singers like Brassens or Brel, watched the Tour de France or liked Flaubert (seriously, Barnes is obsessed with Flaubert). If any of those sound like your thing, then I can highly recommend this book!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Paul Servini

    A book of essays by a good writer about French culture - what more could you want. Well, unfortunately what I'd want was what the title and the blurb promised. The first few essays lived up to its promise. Then came one on Flaubert and I was delighted. Until I realised that all the rest of the essays were to relate to Flaubert in some way or another. Not a problem in itself, except that this narrowing of focus proved, in my opinion, too restrictive. A pity, because there's no doubt that Barbes k A book of essays by a good writer about French culture - what more could you want. Well, unfortunately what I'd want was what the title and the blurb promised. The first few essays lived up to its promise. Then came one on Flaubert and I was delighted. Until I realised that all the rest of the essays were to relate to Flaubert in some way or another. Not a problem in itself, except that this narrowing of focus proved, in my opinion, too restrictive. A pity, because there's no doubt that Barbes knows France and the essays have some key insights about French life. Why not write a few more of these and then make another book of essays on Flaubert?

  21. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    I typically love JB's fiction, and I started off loving this collection of essays, too. However, I'm not as obsessed with Flaubert as JB is, and the last 5/8 of the book were directly about or tangentially related to Flaubert's life and books. I learned a few things, but the later essays didn't hold my interest the way the earlier ones did. Of course, I'm in law school, so lots of things that would ordinarily hold my interest don't because I read a lot of dry case law . . . but a few of these es I typically love JB's fiction, and I started off loving this collection of essays, too. However, I'm not as obsessed with Flaubert as JB is, and the last 5/8 of the book were directly about or tangentially related to Flaubert's life and books. I learned a few things, but the later essays didn't hold my interest the way the earlier ones did. Of course, I'm in law school, so lots of things that would ordinarily hold my interest don't because I read a lot of dry case law . . . but a few of these essays would have put me to sleep under any circumstances.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Woodman

    Julian Barnes is a long established francophile, and the last half of the book is almost entirely devoted to Flaubert and his circle of influence. The other half is focused on French culture--both cuisine, but also their intellectual life. FOr those that are going to France and want to get a bit immersed in more than the regions, but the historical affiliation with the written word, this is a good place to start. Barnes feels that Flaubert's letters are a good window into his soul, and details w Julian Barnes is a long established francophile, and the last half of the book is almost entirely devoted to Flaubert and his circle of influence. The other half is focused on French culture--both cuisine, but also their intellectual life. FOr those that are going to France and want to get a bit immersed in more than the regions, but the historical affiliation with the written word, this is a good place to start. Barnes feels that Flaubert's letters are a good window into his soul, and details which of the volumes of his letters is best at depicting what.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bronwen

    I picked this up off Kate's shelf as something to read before I fell asleep, and she let me borrow it to finish on the bus ride home. Thanks. Englishman Barnes meanders through various things French, from his childhood trips to drug use in theTour de France, songs of Boris Vian and Jacques Brel to his old obsession Flaubert. I follow him with interest through all of it; he’s a charming and unobtrusive guide. I add Llosa’s “Perpetual Orgy: Flaubert and Madame Bovary” to my list. I picked this up off Kate's shelf as something to read before I fell asleep, and she let me borrow it to finish on the bus ride home. Thanks. Englishman Barnes meanders through various things French, from his childhood trips to drug use in theTour de France, songs of Boris Vian and Jacques Brel to his old obsession Flaubert. I follow him with interest through all of it; he’s a charming and unobtrusive guide. I add Llosa’s “Perpetual Orgy: Flaubert and Madame Bovary” to my list.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Keeley

    Mr Barnes and I have very different taste -- he is Flaubertist, atheist, Francophile; I enjoy religion, hate Flaubert, and have had awful times travelling in France -- but his enthusiasm for France, literature, film and the lives of earlier authors make for an interesting read. I am left with increased respect for the merits of the things he loves, even if not with an inclination to run out and read Mme. Bovary again while being insulted by Parisians.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sheba

    The handful of essays on French culture as seen through the eyes of an Englishman were provocative and incredibly enlightening. Barnes has a grasp on both English and French languages and cultures that's enviable and daunting. The only drawback is his obsessive, academician love of Flaubert. Two-thirds of the book is weighted with essays on Flaubert, and while they retain their own draw the book's varied cultural criticism was lost. The handful of essays on French culture as seen through the eyes of an Englishman were provocative and incredibly enlightening. Barnes has a grasp on both English and French languages and cultures that's enviable and daunting. The only drawback is his obsessive, academician love of Flaubert. Two-thirds of the book is weighted with essays on Flaubert, and while they retain their own draw the book's varied cultural criticism was lost.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paul Duggan

    Barnes seems to be the world's greatest living authority on Gustave Flaubert and his masterpiece, Madame Bovary. If you don't think so when you pick up this book, you will by the end. The first nine of seventeen chapters cover a variety of interesting subjects regarding France. The last eight are all Flaubert and when not about Flaubert, about his lover Louis Colet. I'll come back after I reread Madame Bovary. Or perhaps I'll just watch Chabrol's movie. Barnes seems to be the world's greatest living authority on Gustave Flaubert and his masterpiece, Madame Bovary. If you don't think so when you pick up this book, you will by the end. The first nine of seventeen chapters cover a variety of interesting subjects regarding France. The last eight are all Flaubert and when not about Flaubert, about his lover Louis Colet. I'll come back after I reread Madame Bovary. Or perhaps I'll just watch Chabrol's movie.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Julian Barnes is my secret boyfriend (it's a secret from him as well) and I find him fascinating on every subject, even George Brassens. With a book of essays, it is often not so much the content that matters but the company, the authorial voice. Reading it feels like time spent with the author--screw Barthes' Death of the Author. Julian Barnes is my secret boyfriend (it's a secret from him as well) and I find him fascinating on every subject, even George Brassens. With a book of essays, it is often not so much the content that matters but the company, the authorial voice. Reading it feels like time spent with the author--screw Barthes' Death of the Author.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sundarraj Kaushik

    This is a book by an author in admiration of another author who lived a century ago. An interesting book for somebody wanting to know details of Gustave Flaubert his life and the other authors with whom he competed and interacted during this life. Unless one is familiar with the characters it will be difficult to appreciate this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Found this a bit frustrating. Absolutely loved the first hundred pages. The next 200 were pretty much all about Gustave Flaubert, and as someone who hasn't read any GF yet (no, not even Madame Bovary) I found them pretty hard going. I ended up sharing Kingsley Amis's opinion from the jacket. Found this a bit frustrating. Absolutely loved the first hundred pages. The next 200 were pretty much all about Gustave Flaubert, and as someone who hasn't read any GF yet (no, not even Madame Bovary) I found them pretty hard going. I ended up sharing Kingsley Amis's opinion from the jacket.

  30. 5 out of 5

    John

    The blurb states that this set of essays "ranges widely" over French culture; I beg to differ. Most of the second half is taking up with literary analysis of Flaubert and it gets tedious. I'm afraid I'm with Kingsley Amis on this one: "I wish he'd shut up about Flaubert"! The blurb states that this set of essays "ranges widely" over French culture; I beg to differ. Most of the second half is taking up with literary analysis of Flaubert and it gets tedious. I'm afraid I'm with Kingsley Amis on this one: "I wish he'd shut up about Flaubert"!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.