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Book review: Julian Barnes calls our fragile lives

Debutromaner can see the different. Of some authors is the unprecedented big things, while the later books did not reach the same originality or branches off to other directions. Of other in the debut itself the embryo of what later is to come. Everything springs from it, as the germ from its seed.

”Metroland” by Julian Barnes. Photo: Ambush

the british author Julian Barnes debutbok ”Metroland” belonged to the last category was not obvious from the beginning but has become so over time.

in 1980. It is on the surface a fairly conventional (and period) utvecklingsroman, divided into three parts covering three time periods and determining the breakpoints of the protagonist and the narrator of Christopher Lloyd's life. The first part takes place in 1963, Chris is sixteen and living with parents and siblings in british suburbia who gave the book its title: a villasamhälle at Londontunnelbanans Metropolitanlinje. He commutes to school and share with her classmate Toni a deep contempt for everything which, at the time known as the bourgeois: the stuffy puritan medelklasstillvaro that (it is, they both agree on) conspire to prevent them from acquiring it the most in need of sexual redemption and a higher meaning in life in the order.

In the next part of the story has been moved forward a few years. It is may 1968, and Chris are in Paris. He has managed to achieve the first of his two goals, with the help of a young French woman he's been together with, but what the higher meaning is concerned, he manages to completely miss the fact that there is a full-scale studentrevolt in the city.

In the third and final the part has Chris returned to England, and that Metroland he dearly promised never more to set foot in. His ungdomsvän Toni makes a visit to the villaförorten, most to remind you all that Chris failed. But Chris is at ease, even happy, together with his young british wife, even if the final scene where Chris tries his success to the strength by seeing if he can sit and sculling on the high trendy barstolarna they bought to their kitchen without falling off – is characterized by a mild, albeit easy redeeming irony.

”The only story” can be read as a companion piece to the ”Metroland” despite the fact that the forty years separating the books.

You don't need to resignera or even lower claims, in order to find happiness, it is called in one place in the novel. It is only to change the story if you think you are. Chris in the novel's third part is a person, other than in the first, the notice of the reader. But Chris is too much a product of his environment and his class for yourself to notice any difference.

a Little simplified, you can see two lines or themes running through Barnes's writing. First and foremost a distrust of the narrative as such. Every depiction of an event obscures or displaces any other equally credible, or equally possible – a theme that Barnes developed to perfection in his genombrottsroman ”Flaubert's parrot” in 1984. A writer is given a biography, a human life is a story, an event, a morality. But in a larger perspective, it is arbitrary which one. History is the meaning we invent to bring order out of the we can not know anything about.

historierelativism is an idea about the memory and thus also the own identity's fragility. It is not the future that is uncertain for Barnes's characters, without the past. When Toni Webster in Barnes Bookersprisvinnande novel ”the Sense of an ending” (2011) testamenteras a diary written by a childhood friend who committed suicide, it turns out that everything he had taken for granted about this friend and his / her relationship to the woman he had a relationship with, based on the denials and lies.

”The only story”, Barnes latest novel from 2018, " says Paul Roberts about how he, as a 19-year-old falls in love with a thirty year old woman. It is for both him and Susan starts out as a bold violation of the passage of the social conventions ending with her inevitable ageing. With demensen, and the increasing alcohol abuse she turned, literally in the middle of the eyes on him, to a completely different person. Though she was toward the end no longer knows who he is does not stop Paul to love her, despite the fact that he repeatedly asks himself what with her it is he really loves. The memory of her, or a semblance or ideal that never existed?

terapisvenska would you be able to say to Paul on the basis of a classic medberoendebeteende desperately holding on to a livslögn. But to say that a story about a life is untrue, you first need to go to there is another story that is true, or at least more true, and it refuses Barnes narrator go on. Perhaps, reflects Paul, there is only a single story, either true or false. If the love we once felt, that for a moment made us happy, how illusory it was, and how badly the latter than came to stop.

”The only story” can be read as a companion piece to the ”Metroland” despite the fact that the forty years separating the books. The biting irony in ”Metroland” in ”The only story” turned into a kind of exalted resignation. But the theme is the same: the hope for love, meaning, and happiness is the last thing that abandons man, despite the fact that life continuously convinces us of the opposite.

Read more: ”the Art wins over politics”

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