A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters Hardcover – 1989
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A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters
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Top Customer Reviews
We are treated to the woodworms' view of history as well as some rather gruesome aspects behind a rather famous painting. All aspects point out that one's perspective of the "truth" and "what really happened" might not even be a valid idea, let alone how much to trust any statments on such matters.
Barnes' style is quiet and he lets you form your own ideas. The book is quite enjoyable to read and I have gone through my copy several times over the years.
Noah's Ark travel told by an unlikely passenger; the reaction of a person in front of a terroris attack; the panic of nuclear destruction; religious fanaticism taken to an extreme; etc, each brief moment tells us something about how we are.
Oh, and love. The half chapter is a marvelous dissertation on love as a permanent, ambivalent force in history. A masterpiece of monologue, it displays the wit and wisdom of this valuable author. I don't think it exaggerated to say that Barnes's work is a demonstration of literature's always renewable capabilities. His is a literature firmly rooted in the Western tradition, yet possessed with a fresh and humorous look at us humans. Highly recommendable.
It turns out repetition is not one of Mr. Barnes apparent life goals. In The History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters Mr. Barnes once again blows me away in a manner absolutely at odds with, but just as mesmerizing, as Flaubert's Parrot.
If Barnes has one unifying aspect to his novels it's that he can take the arcane and use it as a window to the world. In Flaubert's Parrot, the oddity of the parrot became a metaphor for the oddity that was Flaubert. In History of the World, Mr..Barnes latches onto an array of arcane and esoteric symbols to both analyze an historical epoch while concomitantly questioning the validity of historical analysis, within various arenas, itself. It's a nifty trick, an enlightening exercise, an entertaining expedition of epic proportions.
One of the particularly interesting elements of Barnes style is his ability to tackle "heavy" topics in a straightforward, serious yet light-handed manner that allows for the flow of the ideas, the flow of the text, and the flow of the story (or, in this case, stories) to march on without getting bogged down.
The man possesses a highly inventive and creative mind, a very off beat view of the world, an admirable craftsmanship with language and a very dry, very British tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. It all adds up to a splendid reading experience.
This is a truly novel novel!
Barnes IS in love with his own prose and loves to play with the reader to prove his own erudition, but never entirely without a point. I have several favorites among the chapters, particularly the first and last. In both, the identity of the narrator is crucial to the overall structure of the book. Both address "the oldest story in the world." Both are mildly to wildly comic in degree and both address head-on why we go on, why we remain dedicated to the struggles of this life (and, perhaps, the next.) From proto-Biblical narrative, to art criticism, to pseudo-history, to parable we're led on to the secret of it all. I thought it was just a jim-dandy read.
Most recent customer reviews
Julian Barnes uses every chapter to touch very interesting beliefs and stories. At the beginning it seems like the chapters are disconnected from one another, but thinking of it... Read morePublished on May 21 2002 by Space
A stowaway that narrates the trip of Noah's Ark, simple animals tried for blasphemy in the 16th Century, an incredible stream of thought on language's three very famous words, all... Read morePublished on Dec 5 2000 by taking a rest
Barnes' brilliant History of the World offers little comfort to the reader even though it is bitingly satirical in tone. Read morePublished on Nov. 16 2000 by shannu
"History is simply the propaganda of the victors."
"History repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second
time as farce. Read more
I studied this book as an A level text, and at first I hated it - I found it to be a confusing disjointed book about woodworm and arks with an extremely unsatisfactory ending... Read morePublished on June 13 2000 by tina campanella