(K. Brent Tomer),
The Noise of Time. By Julian Barnes. Jonathan Cape; 180 pages; £14.99. To be published in America by Knopf in May.
ON THE surface, Julian Barnes seems an unlikely author of historical novels, a genre which often offers a fixed interpretation of a period in history, or characters within that period, albeit one conjured by the writer’s imagination. Yet he returns to them again and again. “Talking It Over”, which came out in 1991, sets its characters’ memories against each other, showing how they overlap and contradict. “Arthur & George”—his recreation of a real-life mystery taken on by Arthur Conan Doyle that was published in 2005—is as much an excavation of biography and identity as it is a detective yarn. “The Sense of an Ending”, which won the Man Booker prize for fiction in 2011, offers a dramatic reassessment of one man’s past.
The epigraph of “Talking It Over”, “He lies like an eyewitness”, is described simply as a “Russian saying”. It reappears in “The Noise of Time”, Mr Barnes’s brief, compelling inhabiting of…Continue reading