Through the Window

Seventeen Essays and a Short Story

From the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sense of an Ending and one of Britain’s greatest writers: a brilliant collection of essays on the books and authors that have meant the most to him throughout his illustrious career.
 
In these seventeen essays (plus a short story), Julian Barnes examines the British, French and American writers who have shaped his writing, as well as the cross-currents and overlappings of their different cultures. From the deceptiveness of Penelope Fitzgerald to the directness of Hemingway, from Kipling’s view of France to the French view of Kipling, from the many translations of Madame Bovary to the fabulations of Ford Madox Ford, from the National Treasure status of George Orwell to the despair of Michel Houellebecq, Julian Barnes considers what fiction is, and what it can do. As he writes, “Novels tell us the most truth about life: what it is, how we live it, what it might be for, how we enjoy and value it, and how we lose it.”

Reviews

Pitch perfect…. It takes a novelist, with all his spidery web-weaving, to write an essay so touching yet so elusive.”
The Independent
 
“Engaging, eloquent, entertaining and erudite….  I would defy anyone not to leave without feeling both better informed and better disposed…. It is rare indeed for a collection of occasional pieces such as this is to inspire feelings of profound thankfulness.”
The Scotsman
 
“A gem of literary insight…. It’s arguable that the literary form in which he most singularly succeeds is not the novel, or the short story, but the essay…. Magnificent collection of pieces…. As a prose writer, he is warm, considerate, calm and polite. He doesn’t show off, doesn’t baffle. He manages to generate, as well, a feeling of complicity, and can be witty, sardonic and occasionally shocking…. Taken together, these qualities are immensely beguiling…. A truly wonderful collection.”
—Andrew Holgate, The Sunday Times
 
“Repeatedly, Barnes reveals his ability to make the familiar look unfamiliar, holding pieces of writing up to the light and slowly turning them until they start to glint…. Such local surprises are typical of the book as a whole, which encourages readers to dip and rewards them for lingering.”
The Telegraph
 
“An elegant, witty collection…a wonderful starting place for encountering Julian Barnes…. Barnes celebrates the forgotten protectors and preservers of art—translators, travellers, restorers and cataloguers. And every essay, meticulously informed and well read, is a little story in itself.”
Readings (Australia)
 
“Should strike a responsive chord in anyone who loves books…. A series of deep, loving plunges into the world of literature…. Barnes is a fine literary companion.”
Kirkus Reviews