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Books Year : 2020

Julian Barnes from the Margins. Exploring the Writer’s Archives



This book proposes a journey through Julian Barnes’s papers, drafts, manuscripts, typescripts, notebooks, letters and emails which are preserved at the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas in Austin. The aim is to explore the genesis of Barnes’s novels from Metroland (1980) to The Sense of an Ending (2011) by offering a view from the margins, from scraps of paper and scribblings, from words under erasure, false starts and discarded thoughts. The method consists in focusing on what is not directly visible to the reader who is already familiar with Barnes’s œuvre (the preliminary research, the discarded material, comments by friends, translators and editors, ideas for books never written or written differently), a perspective which authorizes the reader to temporarily look away from the published text the better to rediscover it anew. The book also makes a foray into the Barnes apocrypha and offers interludes in the form of an unconventional chronology of the writer as well as an oblique dictionary to provide yet more vistas into Barnes’s work, the cultural context in which it is situated, and some aspects of his life. The result is an investigation and a mélange, neither an academic literary analysis of the published work, nor a book of strict genetic criticism, neither a pure story nor an exhaustive guide. By casting light on the living process of literary creation, this study uncovers the intricate palimpsest of Barnes’s work and helps understand how the writer made decisive choices that led to the final versions of his novels.
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Dates and versions

halshs-02415013 , version 1 (16-12-2019)


  • HAL Id : halshs-02415013 , version 1


Vanessa Guignery. Julian Barnes from the Margins. Exploring the Writer’s Archives. Bloomsbury. , 2020, 9781350125018. ⟨halshs-02415013⟩
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