Books

Death

Julian Barnes

When it comes to death, is there ever a best case scenario?

In this disarmingly witty book, Julian Barnes confronts our unending obsession with the end. He reflects on what it means to miss God, whether death can be good for our careers and why we eventually turn into our parents. Barnes is the perfect guide to the weirdness of the only thing that binds us all.

Selected from the book Nothing to be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes

VINTAGE MINIS: GREAT MINDS. BIG IDEAS. LITTLE BOOKS.

Also in the Vintage Minis series:
Calm by Tim Parks
Drinking by John Cheever
Babies by Anne Enright
Psychedelics by Aldous Huxley

The Noise of Time

Julian Barnes

'BARNES'S MASTERPIECE' - OBSERVER

In May 1937 a man in his early thirties waits by the lift of a Leningrad apartment block. He waits all through the night, expecting to be taken away to the Big House. Any celebrity he has known in the previous decade is no use to him now. And few who are taken to the Big House ever return.

‘Stunning’ Sunday Times

‘A profound meditation on power and the relationship of art and power… It is a masterpiece of sympathetic understanding… I don’t think Barnes has written a finer, more truthful or more profound book’ Scotsman

‘A tour de force by a master novelist at the top of his game’ Daily Express

Metroland

Julian Barnes

A special edition of Julian Barnes’s first novel with an introduction from the author and previously unseen archive material.

Christopher and Toni found in each other the perfect companion for that universal adolescent pastime: smirking at the world as you find it. In between training as flaneurs and the grind of school, they cast a cynical eye over their various dislikes: parents with their lives of spotless emptiness, Third Division (North) football teams, God, commuters and girls, and the inhabitants of Metroland: the strip of suburban dormitory Christopher calls home.

Longing for real life to begin, Christopher makes for Paris in time for les événements of 1968, only to miss it all in a haze of sex, French theatre and first love. And before long he finds himself drawn inevitably back to Metroland and the very life he was trying to escape...

This special edition contains unseen archive material including letters from early fans such as Philip Larkin and Dodie Smith, contemporary reviews, a deleted scene from the original manuscript as well as an introduction from the author.

Keeping an Eye Open

Julian Barnes

‘Flaubert believed that it was impossible to explain one art form in terms of another, and that great paintings required no words of explanation. Braque thought the ideal state would be reached when we said nothing at all in front of a painting. But we are very far from reaching that state. We remain incorrigibly verbal creatures who love to explain things, to form opinions, to argue... It is a rare picture which stuns, or argues, us into silence. And if one does, it is only a short time before we want to explain and understand the very silence into which we have been plunged.’

Julian Barnes began writing about art with a chapter on Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa in his 1989 novel A History of the World in 10½ Chapters. Since then he has written a series of remarkable essays, chiefly about French artists, which trace the story of how art made its way from Romanticism to Realism and into Modernism.

Fully illustrated in colour throughout, Keeping an Eye Open contains Barnes’ essays on Géricault, Delacroix, Courbet, Manet, Fantin-Latour, Cézanne, Degas, Redon, Bonnard, Vuillard, Vallotton, Braque, Magritte, Oldenburg, Howard Hodgkin and Lucian Freud.

Levels of Life

Julian Barnes

You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed…

In Levels of Life Julian Barnes gives us Nadar, the pioneer balloonist and aerial photographer; he gives us Colonel Fred Burnaby, reluctant adorer of the extravagant Sarah Bernhardt; then, finally, he gives us the story of his own grief, unflinchingly observed.

This is a book of intense honesty and insight; it is at once a celebration of love and a profound examination of sorrow.

Through the Window

Julian Barnes

In these seventeen essays (and one short story) the 2011 Man Booker Prize winner examines British, French and American writers who have meant most to him, 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 in his preface, '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.'

When his Letters from London came out in 1995, the Financial Times called him 'our best essayist'. This wise and deft collection confirms that judgment.

Flaubert's Parrot/History of the World

Julian Barnes

Flaubert’s Parrot, shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1984, concerns the attempts of an increasingly bemused researcher to establish certain facts about a famous French novelist and the stuffed bird which used to sit on his desk.A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters blends fact and fiction in a virtuoso kaleidoscope of vignettes from Noah’s time to the present. One of the author’s most inventive works, it was praised by Salman Rushdie as ‘frequently brilliant, funny, thoughtful, iconoclastic and a delight to read’.

Parade's End

Ford Madox Ford (and others)

Booker Prize-winner Julian Barnes introduces Ford Madox Ford's masterpiece Parade's End - now a major new BBC/HBO TV adaptation - in the reissued Penguin Modern Classics edition.

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Christopher Tietjens, Rebecca Hall as his wife Sylvia and also featuring Rupert Everett, Carey Mulligan, Roger Allam and Miranda Richardson, this lavish production from a screenplay by the legendary playwright Tom Stoppard brings to life for the first time one of the twentieth century's most significant novels.

A masterly novel of destruction and regeneration, Parade's End follows the story of aristocrat Christopher Tietjens as his world is shattered by the First World War. Tracing the psychological damage inflicted by battle, the collapse of England's secure Edwardian values - embodied in Christopher's wife, the beautiful, cruel socialite Sylvia - and the beginning of a new age, epitomized by the suffragette Valentine Wannop, Parade's End is an elegy for both the war dead and the passing of a way of life.

Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939) served with the British army in World War I, an experience that was to form the basis of his novel Parade's End, published in four parts from 1924 to 1928. He wrote over eighty books, including The Good Soldier (1915), and divided his time between England, France and America.

Julian Barnes' most recent novel is The Sense of An Ending, for which he won the 2012 Man Booker prize. His other books include Flaubert's Parrot, A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters and Arthur and George.

'The finest English novel about the Great War'
Malcolm Bradbury

'The best novel by a British writer ... It is also the finest novel about the First World War. It is also the finest novel about the nature of British society'
Anthony Burgess

'There are not many English novels which deserve to be called great: Parade's End is one of them'
W.H. Auden

'The English prose masterpiece of the time'
William Carlos Williams

The Sense of an Ending

Julian Barnes

***Winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction***
***Now a major film starring Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling***

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life.

Now Tony is retired. He's had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He's certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer's letter is about to prove.

'A masterpiece' Daily Telegraph 'Mesmerising' Independent 'Wonderful' Irish Times

Vigilance (Storycuts)

Julian Barnes

A classical music aficionado and concert-goer bemoans the degradation of civility and respect among his fellow audience members. He develops a series of measures to counteract the prevalence of inconsiderate noise-making in the stalls. Resisting his erstwhile partner's appeals for moderation and restraint, his tactics and approaches grow in extremity.

Part of the Storycuts series, this short story was previously published in the collection The Lemon Table.

Bark / The Silence (Storycuts)

Julian Barnes

In 'Bark', Jeanne-Etiene Delacour takes pleasure in the avoidance of any threat to his longevity. Formerly a gourmand and a gambler but now an ascetic, his fastidious new lifestyle is the result of an investment in a public works project - one which holds the promise of considerable reward for the last investor to survive. As he draws black lines through the thirty-nine names in his pocket book, the human capacity to rationalise any indulgence is explored.

In 'The Silence', a composer attests that silence is the logical conclusion to music. He considers the silence that has been in effect throughout the interminable wait for his Eight Symphony, and how it will segue into the silence that will follow the end of his life - a life he claims to have sacrificed on the altar of his art.

Part of the Storycuts series, these two stories were previously published in the collection The Lemon Table.

The Things You Know (Storycuts)

Julian Barnes

Janice and Merrill, two widows, converse about their departed husbands over breakfast. Fond memories of their spouses are recounted, but it is in what they leave unsaid that they find the greater sustenance.

Part of the Storycuts series, this short story was previously published in the collection The Lemon Table.

A Short History of Hairdressing (Storycuts)

Julian Barnes

Gregory ponders as he sits in the barber's chair at various stages of his life. His youthful preoccupation with the adult world gives way to the brash chippiness of the university student, and on, finally, to a man whose children are the same age as the girl holding the scissors. A charming take on the slow development of self.

Part of the Storycuts series, this short story was previously published in the collection The Lemon Table.

The Story of Mats Israelson (Storycuts)

Julian Barnes

Anders Bodén, an esteemed sawmill manager and casual tour guide to those unfamiliar with the small Swedish town he calls home, finds a happy outlet for his knowledge of trees and local history when a new pharmacist arrives in town with his young wife in tow. But then gossip begins to circulate around an association . . .

Part of the Storycuts series, this short story was previously published in the collection The Lemon Table.

Appetite (Storycuts)

Julian Barnes

With her husband descending into the advanced stages of dementia, Vivian discovers that reading from his favourite cookery books can call forth a temporary alleviation and a flash of happiness. But her husband's fading memory compromises her own recollections and brings about disappointments, in both the connections she wants to believe and those she'd rather ignore.

Part of the Storycuts series, this story was previously published in the collection The Lemon Table.

Knowing French (Storycuts)

Julian Barnes

Sylvia Winstanley, the youngest and most competent resident in a home for the elderly and self-labelled maverick, begins a written correspondence with the author of Flaubert's Parrot. We are treated to one half of the confused and hilarious dialogue between the two. Sylvia's bout of 'epistolomania' offers a charming perspective on growing old, and the associated difficulty of continuing to look forward rather than back.

Part of the Storycuts series, this short story was previously published in the collection The Lemon Table.

The Revival (Storycuts)

Julian Barnes

The ambiguous relationship between Ivan Turgenev and the ingénue starring in the revival of one of his early plays is revealed through the fragments of sources left to a researcher. It is a love predicated on renunciation, in which the appeal of a perpetual 'if-only' is explored.

Part of the Storycuts series, this short story was previously published in the collection The Lemon Table.

The Fruit Cage (Storycuts)

Julian Barnes

Christopher's early declaration that he has known his parents all his life is shown to be misguided. Following the widowing of one of their associates, and the emergence of their latter day estrangement, he realises he must re-evaluate the history of his parents' relationship.

Part of the Storycuts series, this short story was previously published in the collection The Lemon Table.

Hygiene (Storycuts)

Julian Barnes

Major 'Jacko' Jackson, now retired, takes his yearly, self-appointed furlough to London. But time has moved on, and the kitchenware on the itemised task list his wife has provided him with is not the only thing he finds out of stock.

Part of the Storycuts series, this short story was previously published in the collection The Lemon Table.

Pulse

Julian Barnes

The stories in Julian Barnes' long-awaited third collection are attuned to rhythms and currents: of the body, of love and sex, illness and death, connections and conversations. A divorcee falls in love with a mysterious European waitress; a widower relives a favourite holiday; two writers rehearse familiar arguments; a couple bond, fall out and bond again over flowers and vegetable patches. And at a series of evenings at 'Phil & Joanna's', the topics of conversation range from the environment to the Britishness of marmalade, from toilet graffiti to smoking, as we witness the guests' lives in flux.

Ranging from the domestic to the extraordinary, from the vineyards of Italy to the English seaside in winter, the stories in Pulse resonate and spark.

Julian Barnes

Biography

Julian Barnes is the author of twelve novels, includingThe Sense of an Ending, which won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. He has also written three books of short stories, Cross ChannelThe Lemon Table and Pulse; four collections of essays; and two books of non-fiction, Nothing to be Frightened Of and the Sunday Times Number One bestseller Levels of Life. He lives in London.