Julian Barnes is the author of ten novels, two volumes of short stories, three collections of essays, and four detective novels published under a pseudonym. His books have received considerable critical acclaim worldwide, and several have been nominated for and/or have won prestigious literary prizes. The distinctive feature of Barnes’s work taken as a whole is its diversity of topics and techniques, which confounds some readers and critics, but enchants others. While some underlying themes can be identified, such as obsession, love, the relationship between fact and fiction, or the irretrievability of the past, it is clear that in each novel Barnes aims to explore a new area of experience and experiments with different narrative modes. He explains: ‘In order to write, you have to convince yourself that it’s a new departure for you and not only a new departure for you but for the entire history of the novel.’1 If Barnes has written several conventional novels which have not always attracted considerable critical attention, he has also proved very keen on formal experimentation. British writer Alain de Botton (born 1969) referred to him as ‘an innovator in the form of the novel’,2 and many critics have emphasised the hybridity of most of his books, which blur and challenge the borders that separate existing genres, texts, arts and languages.
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