Through the Window : Seventeen Essays (and One Short Story), Paperback Book

Through the Window : Seventeen Essays (and One Short Story) Paperback

3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


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.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Prose: non-fiction
  • ISBN: 9780099578581

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

I could only bring myself to read some of these essays, as after starting several I felt no need to know more about the author or book analysed, although I read my way through a surfeit about Ford Madox Ford.I enjoyed the first essay on Penelope Fitzgerald.

Review by

For short, Through the window, is a much more readable collection of literary criticism than, for instance, Something to declare. The latter could not well be appreciated unless the reader, like its author, has a passion for France and the French, and even then, Barnes erudition and tongue-in-cheek humour are not always easy to follow.Through the window. Seventeen essays and a short story demonstrates that essays by Julian Barnes can intrigue readers. The proportion of pages devoted to French literature is just under a third, and the choice of French authors, around Flaubert is sufficiently interesting to interest the general reader.Julian Barnes erudition and subtlety remains in tact, through his unconventional choice of topics for the other essays, and the depth with which they are dealt with. Thus, three essays are devoted to Ford Maddox Ford, linking the author of The Good Soldier to France in the second essay "Ford and Provence". Likewise, twin essays "Kipling's France" and "France's Kipling" establish such a relationship. In previous essays, Barnes had already written about the motoring tours of the wealthy Edith Wharton and the financially less fortunate Henry James in tow, now revisted in an essay about Wharton's novel The Reef.The final sixty-odd pages are devoted to American authors, in essays about Hemingway, John Updike and a touching essay about Joyce Carol Oates dramatic autobiography A Widow's Story.The essay collection also contains a short story. While the story itself was not very interesting, its effect on the composition of the collection as a whole was startling: it turned the volume into a mêlée of fact and fiction.

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