A History of the World in 10½  Chapters
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

A History of the World in 10½ Chapters

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  6,555 ratings  ·  472 reviews
This is, in short, a complete, unsettling, and frequently exhilarating vision of the world, starting with the voyage of Noah's ark and ending with a sneak preview of heaven!
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 27th 1990 by Vintage (first published 1989)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen1984 by George OrwellHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The Guardian's "1000 Novels Everyone Must Read"
210th out of 643 books — 394 voters
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsFear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. ThompsonCoraline by Neil GaimanHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Trippy Books
97th out of 395 books — 548 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Brian
Oct 04, 2013 Brian rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Searchers
Recommended to Brian by: Derek Crim
The Prologue

Before I met all of you wonderful Goodreaders I was at the mercy of my paltry few well-read friends for recommendations of new authors and books. Derek Crim, childhood friend and fellow bookish enthusiast has offered up some winners: Chabon before “Kavalier and Clay”; O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series; Kurlansky’s non-fiction. In August of 2006 he gifted me a copy of this Barnes novel. Immediately upon completion of its reading it became one of my life-important books.

The Beginning

Th...more
Riku Sayuj

This 'History' turned out to be very different from what my expectations were. In fact, it just marginally qualifies as a novel, but then I thought the same about Flaubert's Parrot too, so you might discount the opinion - both have been booker shortlists after all.

It is highly entertaining and the choice of narrator in each fragment is a feat of imagination. Barnes' obsession with history and its telling comes out in this book too, but this time not as a doubting narrator doggedly working again...more
Algernon

The history of the world? Just voices echoing in the dark; images that burn for a few centuries than fade; stories, old stories that sometimes seem to overlap; strange links, impertinent connections. We lie here in our hospital bed of the present (what nice clean sheets we get nowadays) with the bubble of daily news drip-fed into our arm. We think we know who we are, though we don't quite know why we're here, or how long we shall be forced to stay. And while we fret and writhe in bandaged uncer...more
Kelly
I originally assumed, based on its title, that A History of the World in 10 1/2 chapters was actually a history of the world in 10 1/2 chapters. I thought it would be a quirky, ultra-condensed version of all recorded history. And it IS quirky. But it's actually a series of history-themed short stories.

I had it on my wishlist based on the rave reviews from Amazon, claiming that the book is pure genius. A top review calls it a "sardonic, original, and mischievous mind on a tear." Too bad it bored...more
Kirstie
Jun 29, 2012 Kirstie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: My mom!


Ok, the first chapter of the book entitled "The Stowaway" is one of the most brilliant things i've ever read. If there ever was a more intriguing hypothetical account of Noah's Ark, I haven't read it.

Sadly, the rest of the chapters are not as amazing. They are worth reading and interesting. They are engaging and inventive. But, they still aren't 5/5 stars good. I'm a tough critic. This is a solid 4 star work with some real five star moments. Barnes proves he's a creative thinker and able to del...more
Hadrian


The Ship of Fools - Hieronymous Bosch, c. 1500

A set of deliciously intertwined stories. A wry humor on the nature of existence and history, and how adrift we are on it, and a poke in the eye of dogma and 'history' as a lie.

We start with Noah's Ark, and dance around human history from there - mad astronauts, cannibalism, and the legal defense of woodworms. All the pieces matter.
Moira Fogarty
I've had 'A History of the World in 10½ Chapters' on my "to read" list for almost 15 years, but kept putting it off. Now I know why I was dithering. Despite the glowing commendations of university professors and English literature elitists, I simply could not warm to the text, clever though it was.

A loosely connected series of 10 1/2 short stories, art reviews, re-imagined histories, personal ramblings, epistolary travelogues and personal anecdotes, this is the epitome of post-modern fiction. Ju...more
Angie
Aug 15, 2007 Angie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like to make fun of religion
Julian Barnes became one of my favs after reading this book.
Each chapter reads as a sperate story but connected by a religious theme in each, albeit a skewed and revisionist view of various religions.

Chapter one starts the book with a hilarious re-telling of Noah's ark by a stowaway...a woodworm. Apparently the unicorn was tossed overboard because Noah became jealous of it's um...horn. Chapter 3 revisits the woodworms as they are being tried for heresey after infesting the Bishop's throne, caus...more
Matt
Turns out the history of the world revolves around fabulation, woodworms, and love. Hard to argue with that. I really enjoyed this book, each of the 10 stories self-contained, but threaded together, with the 1/2 chapter bringing it all together nicely. Witty, educational, philosophical, self-deprecating, all things I was really in the mood for while riding a bike across Quebec.

Favorite lines, and there were many, so just a few now so I can harken back with fondness:

"A painting may be represente...more
Idle Hippo

Melunasi utang ripiu
Terus terang buku ini sepertinya akan menjadi buku terahir yang dibaca bareng oleh "Durjana Book Club" setelah meronggeng bareng dalam buku Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk dan dan beromantis ria sekaligus curcol habis2an dibuku The Wednesday Letters dan setelah berkonferens sambil tereak2, sikut sana sikut sini, ledek sana ledek sini dengan diiringi puisi dengan daya setrum 1000 volt dari sang Malaikat Berbulu ahirnya diputuskan baca buku ini. Oh, how I miss the moment ketika kaum durja...more
Paul Wright
An uneven work, although the second and first half of the fifth chapters are brilliant.

Noah in this telling is a little like the Mel Brooks Moses who was given fifteen . . . whoops . . . ten commandments. Here Noah loses most of his flotilla and a good part of the animal kingdom:
". . . he'd have been court-martialled if there'd been anyone around to sit on the bench. And for all his bluster, he felt guilty about losing half the Ark. Guilt, immaturity, the constant struggle to hold down a job b...more
Kristina
I enjoyed the book more than I actually expected to...which is of course terrific beyond belief. I'm not saying that I agreed with the most part of the ideas and beliefs presented in this book, but I was impressed by the authenticity and fluidity in which the book was written. It was devastatingly definitive, had a very personal air, which made the reading feel like reading a close friend's diary, and very unsettling. I enjoyed the unsettling because very few books are able to totally unsettle m...more
Haje
The book is basically what it says on the cover: Ten-and-a-half short chapters, which together cover a lot of ground. It is not, as you may be led to believe, a book about history, however.

Rather, it is one of those books that somewhat reminds me of those Official Soundtrack albums they keep releasing: “Music composed for, and inspired by, X”. The stories are, in fact, all fiction. But rather than being history, they cleverly become part of history. Or they will do – for anyone who reads the boo...more
Karen
I love the story about his wife's neck and hair; very romantic. I believe the same wife was Martin Amis's agent and when he got a new agent J. and M. got in a big fight, or something? Hence the three stars; I'm more interested in his dust-up with Martin Amis than his writing. I suppose that's a personal problem.
John Maniscalco
Karl Marx once wrote "History repeats itself, first time as tragedy, second as farce." And essentially, that is what this book is about. From Noah's Ark to modern times, Julian Barnes shows how the same themes and human desires remain constant through time in a collection of short stories. It is a clever idea. Which is why it is somewhat difficult to admit that this book was such a disappointment.

The first chapter is told from the point of view of a stowaway on Noah's Ark which gives you the "tr...more
Mel
16/7

awalnya, saya makin tertarik baca buku ini setelah baca komentar lita kalau terjemahannya apik. jadi penasaran seperti apa yang terjemahannya apik. heheh. lalu menemukan kalimat seperti ini:

Kami akan menghilang secepat kami datang; bagi Anda kami seolah mimpi belaka bagi kalian. (halaman 57)
sementara dalam edisi bahasa inggrisnya:
We shall disappear just as we came, and we shall seem to you simply to have been a dream.(p. 43)

setelah itu saya langsung tidak meneruskan sisi obsesif kompulsif da...more
Mark
No, I am apparently in a minority of one but overall I find this book irritating. There are some wonderful moments and one chapter in particular, ' Parenthesis', is a joy from start to finish (24 pages long) but other chapters are tediously over written, and at times obscure, with occasional nuggets but little to detain, satisfy or inspire. Can appreciate that some ideas are well crafted, and much of the writing flows, but the topics covered are dull and uninteresting and , in my case, rarely ca...more
John David
For whatever reason, I like my fiction to cohere in predictable ways; oftentimes when that doesn’t happen, I leave a reading experience feeling less than satisfied. Chalk it up to being weaned on something other than the so-called “postmodern” novel. In several ways, “A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters” complicates my expectations. It can feel more like a series of short stories than a traditional novel – however, one cannot avoid the interconnectedness they share.

The chapters do span the...more
Pamela
Feb 12, 2009 Pamela rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who like pretentious, urbane work.
This was my introduction to Julian Barnes' work. It wasn't what I expected and maybe that's why it disappointed me. I was expecting a novel that takes one from point A to Z with consistent thread; this is a loosely thematic collection of short stories and essays. Had I selected it knowing that, rather than expecting a conventional novel, my opinion of it might be different.

Barnes' is an excellent writer, no doubt about that, and obviously a deep thinker. I'm sure he could wax eloquently over jus...more
Indah Threez Lestari
Udah lama liat di Gramedia tapi baru beli setelah mengikuti hasil konferensi meja bundar~eh rekan-rekan durjana (wan/wati) GRI.

Bab I: Riwayat Nabi Nuh dari sudut pandang seekor penumpang gelap di Bahtera Nuh. Karena yang meriwayatkan seekor ulat kayu yang tidak bisa dijamin kebenarannya... tergolong sahih atau tidak ya...? *sok serius*
John
How do you categorise a book which is part fictional, part non-fiction and part personal reflection? Or a book which links the era of the Old Testament to the near modern-day exploration of the moon? In some ways this is one of Barnes' most original and inventive books. It's very readable (as usual for Barnes) and thought-provoking, although at times the links between the very disparate stories seem tenuous, despite recurring themes like Noah's Ark, woodworm, religious belief and sailing the oce...more
Katherine
“Water sluiced down from a bilious sky to purge the wicked world” (9).
“I could occasionally find the situation funny, and give vent to the outcast’s laugh” (11).
“Noah, as you will have been told many times, was a very God-fearing man; and given the nature of God, that was probably the safest line to take” (11).
“…but I can tell you this: there was a lot of salted behemoth left over at the end of the journey” (14).
“…and managed to get him into bed without letting their gaze fall on those organs of...more
Olivia
I really don't know how I feel about this one. My prof. raved about it, saying it was a great novel and, seeing as we both liked alot of the same works, I expected it to be damn good. Well, I just finished reading it and still don't know the significance of the title - that bothers me. Next, it started off good, with the retelling of Noah's Ark and how Noah really was...that was interesting - I had never thought of Noah that way. There were a couple of chapters that conveyed interesting irony an...more
George
A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters, rather than being a straightforward novel, is a collection of somewhat related short stories with a couple of essays thrown in along the way. It starts with a firsthand account of the voyage of Noah's ark, related by a stowaway. It ends with a story about Heaven (well, New Heaven). Along the way, there are plenty of boat voyages (and mishaps), incidents of hope and faith (and challenges to both), conflicting views of religion, reflections on art and lov...more
Jimmy
Minggu, 26 Juli 2009 - 02:57, dini hari, tempat tidur.

"Sejarah Dunia dalam 10 1/2 Bab", saya membayangkan sebuah kisah sejarah yang menyajikan fakta. Ternyata, sepertinya menyajikan fakta yang difiktifkan. Berkisah tentang spesies yang menyusup di bahtera Nuh. Dan, sepertinya spesies ini mempunyai sentimen pribadi terhadap Nuh. Entah, apa yang terjadi diantara mereka dimasa dulu dalam imajinasi spesies ini. Mungkin, kalau saat itu posisinya kuat, dia pasti sudah melakukan kudeta.

Bab pertama mem...more
Jamie
Jul 02, 2009 Jamie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jamie by: Professor Gray
Shelves: short-stories
The proper rating here would be four-and-a-half stars, I think; I positively gorged on Barnes' wit and flashy prose, but I think the only thing that held me back from a full five-star rating was that, despite my intellectual engagement with the 'novel' (short story collection?), I often felt a bit detached from his characters. There wasn't the emotional resonance there, except perhaps in his sort of 'discourse' on love ("Parenthesis") and in the absolutely riveting chapter, "The Visitors."

That...more
J K
I've been intending to read this book ever since my English Literature tutor raved about it back in my college years. So, put that weight of expectation behind it for starters. Add to this the considerable lure that both it and the writer receive in the press, and I think I was expecting something a little different. What we actually have here is ten - well, eleven let's be honest - short stories of varying quality. While they provide interesting viewpoints, in some cases, they either seem to en...more
Joseph

Julian Barnes A History of the World In 10 1/2 Chapters is a set of loosely connected stories revolving mostly around the story of Noah and the Great Flood. The first is a hilarious retelling of the story by a "stowaway" on the Ark. The second is an even funnier story of insects being tried in a criminal proceeding, made even funnier by the fact that the story appears to be based on actual historical documents of animals being tried during the middle ages. While the first two stories are funny,

...more
Matt
This book is one of my brother's favorites, and I can sure see why. Barnes explores Noah's Ark from a variety of angles while also weaving in other subthemes (water, love, self-discovery, perspective, woodworms). The chapter in which woodworms are on trial for heresy is riveting and amazing (and a fascinating example of legal argumentation), but all of the stories are intriguing and many are outstanding. The half-chapter meditation on love manages somehow to avoid cliche and feel really true, an...more
Matthew McCarthy
A friend recommended Barnes to me earlier this year as she read A History of the World in 10½ Chapters for an English course that I, unfortunately, hadn't taken that semester. After having recommended so many novels to her I thought I'd go out and try one of her favourites and I'm certainly glad I did. Barnes' novel is hilarious, witty, and is distinctly orginal. The 10 (and ½ ) short stories in this book -- if you could call them "short stories" -- all flow together in a very enjoyable way.

A ha...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Augustus Carp, Esq. By Himself Being The Autobiography Of A Really Good Man
  • According to Queeney
  • Mister Johnson
  • Brewster's Millions
  • Towards the End of the Morning
  • Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
  • The Wimbledon Poisoner
  • Slouching Towards Kalamazoo
  • The Ascent of Rum Doodle
  • Memoirs of a Gnostic Dwarf
  • Illywhacker
  • The History Man
  • A Fairy Tale of New York
  • Pictures from an Institution
  • Before Lunch
  • Molesworth
  • A Good Man in Africa
  • The Unbearable Bassington
1462
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
More about Julian Barnes...
The Sense of an Ending Arthur & George Flaubert's Parrot Talking It Over England, England

Share This Book

“Women were brought up to believe that men were the answer. They weren't. They weren't even one of the questions. ” 107 likes
“Perhaps love is essential because it's unnecessary.” 60 likes
More quotes…