Al Bità's Reviews > Nothing to Be Frightened Of

Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes
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Mar 29, 2010

it was amazing
Read in February, 2010

Julian Barnes is getting older... We are more conscious of coming to 'the end'... How do we deal with this reality?

Barnes approach is to present a kind of memoir, an examination of his family, himself, his philosophical brother's comments, on this subject — but he does it in a witty, amused and basically lighthearted fashion. He examines what other writers have written about it, and compared that with their actual ends. He examines particularly the French writer Jules Renard, and what he has to say about life and death, mostly because he finds a certain affinity with some of what he says.

The book is perhaps more a meditation on the theme; but it is not heavy or dour or depressing (the title should have alerted the reader to that fact). It is delicate and light, but relentless in covering all aspects of the coming end, and particularly of our fear of dying. He treats it with rage, compassion, tenderness, humour and beautiful writing.

As mentioned, this is not a morbid book. By personalising the concern, Barnes helps the reader access some of the darker recesses of our fears to bring some illumination on the process most of us do not 'want' to think about. Ultimately, it becomes consoling, in perhaps the most important way, so that in the end, really, there is nothing to frightened of. And for such a wonderful writer to end not only a sentence, but even the Title of the book with a proposition (outrageous!) is precisely to understand Barnes' sly, gentle take on the matter!
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