Julian Barnes

(1946- )

British novelist and critic Julian Patrick Barnes, b. Jan. 19, 1946, is best known for the novel Flaubert's Parrot (1984), the chronicle of an elderly English doctor's obsession with the trivia of Gustave Flaubert's life, and a richly symbolic examination of the ways in which art and life mesh--or do not. After graduation with honors from Oxford University in 1968, Barnes worked as a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary. Since 1972 he has devoted his full time to writing and editing, including stints as television critic for the New Statesman and the London Observer, contributing editor of New Review, and deputy literary editor of the London Sunday Times. Since 1990, Barnes has written the "Letter from London" for the New Yorker. Flaubert's Parrot was nominated for England's prestigious Booker Prize, and in 1986 Barnes received an award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, for work of distinction. Other novels include Metroland (1980), Staring at the Sun (1986), and The Porcupine (1992). Under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh, he has written several mystery novels, Duffy (1980) and Going to the Dogs (1986) among them.

You can define a net in one of two ways, depending on your point of view. Normally, you would say that it is a meshed instrument designed to catch fish. But you could, with no great injury to logic, reverse the image and define the net as a jocular lexicographer once did: he called it a collection of holes tied together with string.

--from Flaubert's Parrot

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