Neil's Reviews > Arthur & George

Arthur & George by Julian Barnes
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Jun 28, 08

Read in June, 2008

I don't go for whodunnits so much, mostly because I have such a poor head for plot that by the time the mystery is revealed, I've long forgotten who these people are that are now being identified as the criminals. This piece of historical fiction is no different in that regard, but the mystery of who committed the crime is only a small part of what Barnes is trying to do.

The other topics that the book tackles--changing definitions of masculinity and honor in early 20th century England, the struggles of the child of an immigrant to overcome prejudice, and the writer's life, to name three--are fascinating and handled expertly.

During the time I read this book, I saw both No Country for Old Men and, more to the point, In the Valley of Elah. Tommy Lee Jones basically plays the same kind of man in both, but I really appreciate the work he's doing to document a kind of masculinity that will probably be all but gone in 20 years. Arthur and George also handles the passing of a kind of masculinity and it's wonderful that Barnes can make that combination of loss and progress feel fresh even at a distance of 100 years.
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