Julian Barnes Biography

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(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

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Born in the English Midlands city of Leicester just after World War II to parents who taught French, Julian Patrick Barnes studied French at Magdalen College, Oxford, from which he graduated with honors in 1968 with a degree in modern languages. After he left Oxford, his abiding interest in words and language led him to a position as a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary Supplement. In 1972 Barnes became a freelance writer, preferring that parlous profession to the law. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, he wrote reviews for The Times Literary Supplement and was contributing editor to the New Review, assistant literary editor of the New Statesman, and deputy literary editor of the Sunday Times of London. For a decade he served as a television critic, most notably for the London Observer; his commentary was noted for being witty, irreverent, and provocative.

Influenced by the French writer Gustave Flaubert, particularly his concern for form, style, and objectivity, Barnes produced serious novels that continued to exhibit his fascination with language and literary experiments, in contrast with the more traditional narrative approach and narrow subject matter of many twentieth century English novelists. Under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh, Barnes also published a number of detective novels, less experimental in style, although the major protagonist of these books is gay.

By the 1990’s Barnes had become one of Britain’s leading literary figures. His literary reviews appeared in many of the leading publications in both his own country and the United States. He also wrote brilliant journalistic pieces on various topics—political, social, and literary—some of them appearing in The New Yorker. Many of these essays have been collected and published in Letters from London (1995). Barnes’s long-standing fascination with France was revealed in his collection of short stories Cross Channel (1996), a series of tales about Englishmen and -women and their experiences of living and working in France.

In the mid-1990’s Barnes accepted a one-year teaching position at Johns Hopkins University, in part, he said, to increase his knowledge of American society, the United States being second only to France among Barnes’s foreign fascinations. After a several-year novelistic hiatus, in 1998 he published England, England, which, like Flaubert’s Parrot, was short-listed for the Booker Prize, Britain’s premier literary award, a recognition Barnes again received in 2005 with Arthur and George. In 2008, Barnes’s ruminations on familial dying, death, and the hereafter, Nothing to Be Fearful Of, received wide critical acclaim.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Julian Patrick Barnes was born in Leicester, England, on January 19, 1946, and educated at the City of London School. He graduated with honors from Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1968, and for the next four years was a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary Supplement. In 1977, he began reviewing for a number of British periodicals and between 1979 and 1986 was a television critic for The Observer. He has been a visiting professor at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He has also written a number of popular thrillers under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

By the time his third book was published, Julian Patrick Barnes had been hailed by critics as one of the most accomplished novelists in years. Barnes was educated at the City of London School from 1957 to 1964 and at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he graduated with honors in 1968. From 1969 to 1972, he worked as a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary supplement, and in 1977 he began working as a reviewer and literary editor for various British journals. Between 1979 and 1986, he was a television critic, and he ultimately joined the London Observer; in the 1990’s, he also began writing for The New Yorker.{$S[A]Kavanagh, Dan;Barnes, Julian}

In 1980, Barnes published his first novel, Metroland , a first-person account of the maturation of Christopher Lloyd,...

(The entire section is 1,757 words.)