Julian Barnes, Arthur & George (2005)

25 Jul

This is a brilliant novel. If one is to judge it by any criteria — language, quality of research, depth of characterisation, insight into the human condition, and even sheer entertainment value — it must rank as better than most of the alleged classics written by many a long-dead author. It is a damned sight better than most of Sir Walter Scott, for example, and than a pretty fair proportion of Dickens, or Silas Marner, or even than Shakespeare’s King John. It is also better than its inspiration, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but I don’t think his Holmes tales (which I love) ever had too many pretensions. It serves too as a parable for our time: the injustices meted out to George Edelji, and the habit of viewing “The Other” we really haven’t consistently outgrown, parallel uncomfortably our own responses in the War on Terror.

Outrageous praise? I don’t think so.

Visit Arthur & George, but better yet, read the book.

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Posted by on July 25, 2006 in Reading



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