Faulks on Fiction, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Ever since "Robinson Crusoe" in 1719, the novel has introduced British readers to truly unforgettable characters - people in whom we can find deeper understanding of our own lives.

In this engaging and personal book, Sebastian Faulks examines and celebrates the most famous and best-loved of these dazzling fictional creations and their wider impact on British culture as a whole.

From Sherlock Holmes and Mr Darcy to Emma Woodhouse and James Bond - this is the story of the heroes, lovers, snobs and villains in all of us.


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Faulks on fiction is a rather difficult, and overall rather dis-satisfactory book. It is a companion volume with a television series about great novels, which was presented by Sebastian Faulks. However, it is not made clear how the book should be read. Does the book repeat and expand on ideas presented in the TV series? Are readers supposed to have read the novels? How much did the TV series tell about the novels? Without answers to these questions, reading the book is rather difficult.Faulks on fiction can hardly be read on its own. The author moves much too fast, and seems to expect that readers of the book are entirely familiar with each novel. In his explanations, Faulks gives away the plot, so the book is supposedly not for readers new to these novels.Few readers will feel comfortable with Faulks on this excursion through English literature. Faulks repeatedly states that he has read each of the novels multiple times, referring to readings in his youth, his student days, or subsequently. It is obvious that Faulks must have re-read each book in preparation for the TV series and the writing of this book. His complete familiarity with the characters of the novels contrasts sharply with that of the readers.Faulks does not explain much. He recapitulates, but expects his readers to be grosso modo familiar with the plot and characters of the novels. Whether this is justified, for example because such things were explained in the TV series, remains unclear. The themes and motives Faulks picks up to contemplate do not seem to be chosen with the reader in mind. The overall impression is that Faulks takes the reader where Faulks wants to go. This would be quite acceptable if the book is seen as a collection of essays, but not if the function of the book is to introduce readers to literature.Faulks disregard for the reader is even stronger in the chapters about contemporary authors. Obviously, Faulks personally knows many of the contemporary, living authors, and this familiarity leads to a strong feeling of in-crowd. He also frequently refers to his own work.Faulks on fiction deals with a dazzling number of authors, novels and characters. The staccato structure of the book, four parts, each part preceded by an introduction, each essay of a similar structure for 28 characters. And since the organization is thematic, the book bounces through the centuries like a pinball. The effect is that the book is boring, and very difficult to read.

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