A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters

by Julian Barnes
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Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 513

Some of the best quotes from the novel are in the chapter called "Parenthesis." Here are some thought-provoking quotes from the half chapter in A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters.

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Quote 1

"I love you." For a start, we'd better put these words on a high shelf; in a square box behind glass which we have to break with our elbow; in a bank. We shouldn't leave them lying around the house like a tube of vitamin C. If the words come too easily to hand, we'll use them without thought; we won't be able to resist. Oh, we say we won't, but we will. We'll get drunk, or lonely, or—likeliest of all—plain damn hopeful, and there are the words gone, used up, grubbied. We think we might be in love and we're trying out the words to see if they're appropriate? How can we know what we think till we hear what we say? Come off it; that won't wash. These are grand words; we must make sure we deserve them. Listen to them again: "I love you."

In the half chapter, "Parenthesis," the narrator, also called Julian Barnes, discusses the overuse of the words "I love you" and how they have become too easy to say to one another. They have become commonplace. The narrator believes that we should carefully consider them before we say them to someone, and we should also consider if we deserve to hear them from another.

Quote 2

The history of the world? Just voices echoing in the dark; images that burn for a few centuries and then fade; stories, old stories that sometimes seem to overlap; strange links, impertinent connections. We lie here in our hospital bed of the present (what nice clean sheets we get nowadays) with a bubble of daily news drip-fed into our arm. We think we know who we are, though we don't quite know why we're here, or how long we shall be...

(The entire section contains 513 words.)

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