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Through the Window: Seventeen Essays and a Short Story

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  319 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
From the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sense of an Ending and one of Britain’s greatest writers: a brilliant collection of essays on the books and authors that have meant the most to him throughout his illustrious career.

In these seventeen essays (plus a short story and a special preface, “A Life with Books”), Julian Barnes examines the British, French and America
Paperback, 272 pages
Published November 20th 2012 by Vintage (first published August 31st 2012)
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Feb 21, 2016 Helle rated it really liked it
I basked delightedly in Julian Barnes’s writing in this book and realized, once again, that I feel so at ease in his company; he is intelligent, astute, eloquent, pleasant and often quite funny. In this collection of essays (and one short story), he pays homage to and analyses (works by) some of his favourite authors. (See chapter headings at the end of this review).

He begins with a charming portrait of Penelope Fitzgerald, which made it clear to me that I need to get to her novels soon. He deli
Apr 22, 2013 Jonfaith rated it really liked it
"The most misspent day in any life is the one when you've failed to laugh." - Chamfort

Yesterday I first cracked the cover of this in Frankfort Airport, enjoying espresso as I gazed about at the number of beer drinkers at 9 a.m. on a Sunday. As Julian Barnes notes early, his family didn't go to church but they did go to the library. Finally succumbing to slumber, I crashed without finishing Barnes' second examination of Ford Maddox Ford. Replenished, I awoke today before dawn and was off wanderin
Lurid post-it notes jostle pink-yellow-red-blue-green post-it flags at the page edges. I think only the five-star ones merit this number of flags. And — (sigh) — Barnes’s essays on writers and their books has bumped up my TBR count. At least I can re-use the post-it flags for those new ones.

Preface: A Life with Books (5*) — This eleven-page essay was one of my favourites. I love reading about other people’s love affairs with books, about how and what they read as children, what ensared them, ab
Jul 02, 2013 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Upon immediately finishing this book last night, I'd decided to write only a succinct review, something like:

'I enjoyed this collection of essays, even the ones about authors I'd never heard of (i.e., all the French ones excluding Flaubert) and of books I haven't read (e.g. Parade's End). Even without having read Hemingway's "Homage to Switzerland," I perceived and appreciated the layers in the one short story included here.'
The End

Instead I had trouble sleeping while sentences flowed through my
Feb 08, 2013 Cynthia rated it really liked it
Francophile lit crit

I’m a Barnes fan so please forgive my fawning. This is not your stand literary criticism. Barnes focuses on less well known writers with some exceptions such as Updike, Orwell, and Flaubert though I wonder how often even they are read now. You will, however, recognize all or most of the names and hopefully have read something from them so you won’t feel at sea. There’s almost always a tie in with France. I suppose this is to be expected from someone who’s most recognized book
Birdbath Birdbath
Jan 14, 2013 Birdbath Birdbath rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book of 17 essays and one short story because I was swept off my feet by The Sense of an Ending. I thought, whatever Julian Barnes writes next, I will read (never mind his many previous novels). His essays, covering subjects from Ford Madox Ford's Good Soldier to the many translations of Madame Bovary, were hardly familiar (to me) but I ate them up. I am determined to figure out how Barnes did what he did in The Sense of an Ending, and Through the Window provided a view, despite my ...more
Julian Barnes won the Man Booker Prize in 2011 for his book The Sense of an Ending which has sparked a huge increase in this man’s popularity. To follow up (cash in) on the buzz the release of Through the Window followed soon after, which holds Seventeen Essays (and a Short Story) on the books and authors that have meant the most to him over his career.

I remember reading Julian Barnes’ essay A Life with Books, which really was just a look at his reading history and I absolutely loved it. So I wa
Sözü Türkçe edebiyatın sağlam bellekli, safalı dilli, edalı sözlü ve şen şakrak denemecisi Salâh Birsel’le açmak isterim. Bir tür olarak denemenin hor görülüp ders kitaplarına hapsedilmesi, hele hele Türkçede deneme yazarı yetişmemesi, doğrusu ahlanıp vahlanacak bir meseledir. Öyle ki, iyi bir deneme okumak insanı krallar katına yükseltir, başına taç bile koyar. Salâh Birsel’in denemeleri öyledir mesela: Türkçenin en civcivli, en alacalı kelimelerini bulabilirsiniz onda. Hele Ahmet Rasim’den ...more
The essay on George Orwell gets five stars. A brilliant essay, Julian Barnes is a brilliant writer. The essay's title refers to Orwell's essay 'Shooting an Elephant' and relates to the reply by 'Orwell's widow, Sonia, to interviewer Bernard Crick asking Sonia if Orwell really did shoot the Elephant. 'Sonia 'screamed' at him across the table, "Of course he shot the fucking elephant. He said he did. Why do you always doubt his word!." The widow, you feel was screaming for England'. The essay first ...more
Oct 27, 2012 Grady rated it it was amazing
A Bibliophile Reflects

Julian Barnes is an astonishingly fine writer. After reading his last book - THE SENSE OF AN ENDNG which won the Man Booker Prize - this reader wrote, `the miracle of Julian Barnes' writing is the fact that once the book cover is opened he is able to not only retain our attention but also compel us to read on to discover how this strangely ordinary man will show us through his sifted memories how life is after all what we do not what we plan. It is brilliant writing, contag
Sep 25, 2013 Barbara rated it it was amazing
New authors for me:
Penelope Fitzgerald
Arthur Hugh Clough, poet
Jean Stafford, Short Story Writer, Pulitzer prize
Finally finished it. I'm a Barnesophile and Francophile so I meandered thru this book. He mentioned authors I didn't know so I either googled them or read one of their books. I loved Flaubert's Parrot so I enjoyed his essay on translating Flaubert . I read the 2 essays on Kipling and read 2 Kipling stories and poetry.
Razvan Zamfirescu
Spicuiri din recenzia finala care se gaseste pe blogul meu


Pe fereastră strânge o serie de articole, 18 la număr, care au fost publicate în reviste precum New Yorker, London Review of Books, New York Review of Books sau The Guardian.

De ce Pe fereastră? Pentru că Barnes, de la geamul camerei lui vede direct Franța și pe cei impresionați, marcați și inspirați de țara de dincolo de Canalul Mânecii, vechi rival cultural al Angliei.

Julian Barnes citește și sc
Sep 13, 2015 Yvonne rated it really liked it
Julian Barnes schrijft schitterende boeken en prachtige essays over boeken. Dat laatste blijkt uit het werk 'Uit het raam', dat beschouwingen bevat van Updike tot Houellebecq. Zijn leven met boeken heeft hij op de volgende wijze verwoord: 'Ik heb geleefd in boeken, voor boeken, door en met boeken; de afgelopen jaren heb ik zelfs het geluk dat ik kan leven van boeken. En via boeken kwam ik tot de ontdekking dat er andere werelden bestonden dan die waarin ik leefde, dat ik voor het eerst fan
Ade Bd
Nov 07, 2013 Ade Bd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
I would like to have Julian Barnes as a neighbour, I would like his friendly interruptions as I mowed the lawn, I would like him to kindly enquire of my children, as I loaded them into the car, of how they were enjoying school. Greatest living writer is no great accolade, where do you go when you die? Better than that, Julian Barnes holds my interest in the most pleasant of ways. If I was Charles Foster Kane I would pay a fortune to have him on my staff. (Be warned though, reading one Julian ...more
Jan 09, 2013 Riet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Een verzameling essays, boekrecensies en een kort verhaal van een fantastische schrijver. Zelfs als je de boeken en schrijvers, die hij bespreekt, niet kent, is dit toch interessant. Veel stukken hebben op de een of andere manier met Frankrijk te maken. Ik vond vooral zijn stukken over Updike en Hemingway erg goed.
Dec 09, 2013 Leif rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Barnes is the writer everyone wishes their friends would be. Generous, well-read, well-travelled and with a host of intellectual and curious stories and opinions. I didn't have a chance to read all the essays collected here but I'd say, judging from those I did, that there's a wealth of enjoyment and interest to be found here.
Jan 16, 2013 Angel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
well, the stars are actually for the short story "homage to hemingway: a short story." it's brilliant -- i enjoyed it enormously and also happen to be a non-fan of hemingway. funny, compassionate, doubtful and charming in that restrained barnesian way.
Bel Murphy
Nov 18, 2012 Bel Murphy rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on

Persevered valiantly but found this incredibly dull.
Sep 01, 2014 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: semi-skimmed
Four stars grudgingly, indicating that I sort of think it's good but I found myself wishing for something more fun, more absorbing.

I onl;y read about half the essays (and skipped the story). Evidence that it's good: in most cases where I read about a writer I didn't know, I ended up wanting to read them: Penelope Fitzgerald, Arthur Hugh Clough, Lorrie Moore, some French guy called Chamfort who's not the singer Alain.

As for the writers I did know already, naturally as I had my own prior opinions
Feb 24, 2013 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recensies
Met zijn prachtige boek Alsof het voorbij is won Julian Barnes in 2011 de Man Booker prize en dit jaar kreeg de Nederlandse vertaling de Europese Literatuurprijs. Het was niet meer dan terecht en hoog tijd dat Barnes de Booker prize toegekend kreeg. In 1984 stond hij met Flauberts papegaai op de short list, in 1998 met Engeland, Engeland en in 2005 met Arthur en George, maar de prijs ging iedere keer aan zijn neus voorbij.
Barnes is bekend geworden door Flauberts papegaai dat nog steeds beschouwd
Everyday eBook
Nov 20, 2012 Everyday eBook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Everyday by: Abigail Dalton
Julian Barnes has made a career of attempting to arrive at greater truths through literature, always promulgating his guiding belief that fiction is "untrue in a way that ends up telling a greater truth than any other information system ... that exists." In Through the Window, a collection of previously published essays (and one short story), Barnes explores those topics that most interest and influence him; to his credit, they are sure to interest and influence any reader of Barnes, as well as ...more
Vivek Tejuja
Jun 11, 2013 Vivek Tejuja rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is not easy to write about books and other authors for a writer. It needs to be unbiased and at the same time say what he or she wants to. I am in awe of writers who manage to write on books. Reading books on books is a different experience altogether. As a reader, I have enjoyed a lot of books on this theme – from Alberto Manguel to Anne Fadiman; these books have also led me to read some more authors who I normally would not have read. This is the primary reason I love books about books. At ...more
Ben Dutton
Julian Barnes won the Man Booker Prize in 2011, for his novel The Sense of an Ending. Such successes inevitably see the reprinting of older, less successful novels, and the gathering together of literary detritus, essays published in journals, reviews from newspapers. Barnes’s such collection, Through the Window, containing seventeen essays and one short story, gathers work mostly from the last few years, though a few pieces date back to the mid-1990s.

Unlike other collections that are put toget
Paul Waibel
Dec 31, 2012 Paul Waibel rated it really liked it
I enjoy reading about authors. I also enjoy reading essays of all sorts, including book review essays. These are perhaps the reasons why I chose to read and review THROUGH THE WINDOW: SEVENTEEN ESSAYS AND A SHORT STORY by Julian Barnes (New York: Vintage International, 2012). Frankly, I had never read anything by Julian Barnes, or even heard of him before reading THROUGH THE WINDOW.

Collections of essays, like collections of short stories, are always a mixed bag. Some will inevitably be more inte
Kent Winward
Apr 17, 2013 Kent Winward rated it liked it
This collection suffers from the classic collection problem. I'm not the Francophile that Barnes is, so several of the essays on the French literary history were a little blase for me. I did enjoy the discussion of the Madame Bovary translation discussion and the discussion of Michel Houellebecq on the French side. Some of his interests in British literary history also were a bit removed for me -- Penelope Fitzgerald and Kipling, but I enjoyed the essay on Orwell. Usually I come away from books ...more
Deborah J
It is always a pleasure to read Barnes - he writes so smoothly, often with a twinkle in his eye. I wasn't familiar with the subjects of some of his essays, like Clough and Chamfort, and knew of some just by name, but I want to rush off and check them out now. I loved the piece on Lydia Davis's translation of Madame Bovary: Davis's short stories are on my to-read list, I've always admired Flaubert, and I'm interested in translation. Bingo! I love the French slant so prevalent in Barnes's work, ...more
Mar 20, 2013 Iva rated it really liked it
A stellar collection of essays; Barnes excels at non-fiction as well as fiction. Barnes ruminates about literature and authors that he enjoys. He loves Updike's Rabbit books, he admires Penelope Fitzgerald and he has seen Lorrie Moore mature under his watch. The most fascinating essay, to me, was a comparison of translations of Madame Bovary and his musings about how difficult it is to know what an author intended. Another surprise was learning about Kipling's love of France. We learn about ...more
Alan Wightman
Jun 27, 2015 Alan Wightman rated it liked it
Seventeen essays written by Barnes over sixteen years about various literary works. Despite, I think, being above averagely well read, I struggled at times as I had only read two books that Barnes critiques (A Good Solider and Madame Bovary). Despite this, and because Barnes is such a fine writer, the essays make for interesting fare. And, based exclusively on Barnes' positive review, I have added Birds of America by Lorrie Moore to my list of books to read.
Jun 14, 2014 Claire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
This book captivated my from the moment I opened it. I've never read anything by Barnes before, though I've heard good things, and he did not disappoint. THROUGH THE WINDOW is the perfect mix of exploration, analysis, personal insight and creativity. I think the reason TTW captivated me so much was that he really understood and contemplated the reader/writer relationship; it was a pleasure to read.
Apr 04, 2013 Roz rated it really liked it
Having just seen Benedict Cumberbatch in HBO's "Parade's End", I was pleasantly surprised to find the Ford Madox Ford books reviewed in this small book of essays. His comments really added to my memories of having enjoyed the 5-part TV series but I'm glad the filmed version went for an optimistic ending rather than the one described by Barnes.
Similarly, other chapters were thought-provoking and well worth the time.
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Julian Patrick Barnes is a contemporary English writer of postmodernism in literature. He has been shortlisted three times for the Man Booker Prize--- Flaubert's Parrot (1984), England, England (1998), and Arthur & George (2005), and won the prize for The Sense of an Ending (2011). He has written crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh.

Following an education at the City of London School
More about Julian Barnes...

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“Als je een goed boek leest, ontsnap je niet aan het leven, je stort je er juist dieper in. Er kan sprake zijn van een oppervlakkige ontsnapping – in verschillende landen, mores, spraakpatronen – maar wat je in wezen doet is je begrip versterken van de subtiliteiten, paradoxen, vreugde, pijn en waarheden van het leven. Leven en lezen zijn geen onderscheiden maar symbiotische waarden.” 1 likes
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