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Through the Window: Seventeen Essays and a Short Story (Vintage International) Paperback – November 20, 2012
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"A reasoned defense of great writers and great literature. . . . The criticism of a writer like Barnes deserves to be celebrated for its prose at the same time as its intelligence—criticism that functions as its own literary property." —San Francisco Chronicle
"[A] blissfully intelligent gathering of literary essays." —Financial Times
"Sparkling. . . . A veritable treasure house of letters on novels and their authors." —The Millions
"The Booker-winning English novelist makes erudite scholarship look easy and effortlessly entertaining." —The Daily Beast
About the Author
Julian Barnes is the author of ten previous novels, three books of short stories, and three collections of journalism. In addition to the Booker Prize, his other honors include the Somerset Maugham Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in London.
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The following are the list of essays in this compilation:
"The Deceptiveness of Penelope Fitzgerald:" I didn't know who Penelope Fitzgerald was as an author but she was the British author of her generation even though she got published at 58 years old. This chapter details Barnes' relationship with Fitzgerald as a fan and reader of her works.
The 'Unpoetical' Clough:" The essay is about the late Arthur Hugh Clough and his travels in Europe. I didn't find it as interesting as the intro essay.
"George Orwell and the...Elephant:" This essay is about George Orwell which is fabulous with humor and information about the author himself.
"Ford's 'The Good Soldier:'" This essay is about Ford Madox Ford and his classic novel, "The Good Soldier." I am sure fans of the novel will find this essay to be both amusing and enlightening.
"Ford and Provence;" This essay is also about Ford Madox Ford only about his travels to France especially Provence in the South.
"Ford's Anglican Saint:" This essay is also about Ford Madox Ford. I can only say that Barnes must be a huge fan of this author to have included him in three of the essays here.
"Kipling's France:" The essay is about Rudyard Kipling and his travels and life in France.
"France's Kipling:" This essay is about France during Kipling's time there. Barnes really takes the time to develop a background of France during Kipling's time there like many artistic expatriates.
"The Wisdom of Chamfort:" The essay is about French author, Nicolas Sebastien Roch De Chamfort (1741-1794) and his influence among authors such as Albert Camus, Cyril Connolly and others.
"The Man Who Saved Old France:" Barnes recalls visiting France for the last fifty years beginning as a child with his parents to the present. He recalls memories of the country and the people in this essay with such vivid details and recollection. He also points out to how France has maintained itself with it's unique identity.
"The Profile of Felix Feneon:" The subject of Felix Feneon is the man who coined the term neo-impressionism in the late 1800s and the painter, Paul Signac, who painted his profile. This essay is about how his works influenced others.
"Michel Houellebecq and The Sin of Despair:" In November 1998, Barnes was on the panel to award literary prizes. Houellebecq is quite controversial and largely ignored for his efforts.
"Translating Madame Bovary:" If you like the novel, Madame Bovary in English, you will find this essay of translation to be very insightful, witty, and keen on certain parts of a novel that was deemed sinful and immoral during it's publication.
"Wharton's 'The Reef':" American author and expatriate Edith Wharton is featured here to discuss and analyze her works and influences. Barnes brings her memory alive with her works, genius, and humor.
"Homage to Hemingway: A Short Story:" This essay is about Nobel Laureate Ernest Hemingway, his life, his death from suicide, and his lasting influences on modern writers in the short stories.
"Lorrie Moore Takes Wing:" Lorrie Moore is largely a short story writer but well known in the literary world for her achievements. Her short story collection entitled "Birds in America" is about a series of stories about everyday people.
"Remembering Updike, Remembering Rabbit:" Barnes considered John Updike's series, "The Rabbit" novels to the finest novels around for the generation about the life of Rabbit Engstrom. Still, I preferred "The Terrorist" novel from Updike. Still, Barnes explains why the Rabbit series still maintains and upholds the modern life of an American man.
"Regulating Sorrow:" Barnes analyzes and details the subject of death, grief, and painful loss. American female writers like Joan Didion (who lost both husband and daughter) and Joyce Carol Oates (who lost her husband). Both women were married to other writers although they are considered the star in the family. They were also married to their husbands for decades as well. Oates' "A Widow's Memoir" is perhaps her finest non-fiction piece to date because she details so much of her life with Raymond Smith, her first husband of 47 years. Joan Didion's book, "The Year of Magical Thinking," is about dealing with the lost of her longtime spouse and also her daughter, Quintana Roo. Still both women manage to survive and thrive.
The author does a great preface in explaining his love of books even in today's electronic age and his collection. The book also has an index to help readers look for a particular subject, author or work.