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A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  10,802 Ratings  ·  756 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!


From the Trade Paperback edition.
ebook, 320 pages
Published June 15th 2011 by Vintage (first published 1989)
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Brian
Feb 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Riku Sayuj
Dec 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: r-r-rs, lit-fic

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
Helle
(3.5) Despite a lukewarm entry into this collection, I ended up marvelling, once again, at Barnes’s ingenuity, insight and sense of humour. And at his prose, which in this collection takes on many different guises – from encyclopedic to shifty, from dull (mostly in the beginning) to dramatic (increasingly). When I say collection, I mean collection – of mostly short stories, some which are bordering on essays – and most emphatically not a novel, although the book claims to be one. It is even less ...more
Catriona (LittleBookOwl)
Mar 04, 2017 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, school
I read most of this! A few chapters I stopped reading half-way through because I wasn't enjoying them as much. I decided to DNF as this is a book I had to study last year and no longer /need/ to finish it... and honestly I don't have any desire to revisit the chapters I stopped partway through.
Kaggelo
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Εμεινα αφωνος με το συγκεκριμενο βιβλιο. Ειμαι εντυπωσιασμενος και καταπληκτος. Δεκα ξεχωριστα διηγηματα και μια παρενθεση, εκπληκτικα τα περισσοτερα, με διαφορετικο λογοτεχνικο υφος το καθενα, συνθετουν ολα μαζι μια ενιαια ιδεα. Το τελος κυριολεκτικα θα σας παρει το μυαλο. Λιγη υπομονη θελει μονο με την πρωτη ιστορια η οποια ειναι καπως κουραστικη και σαν ιδεα αλλα και στον τροπο αφηγησης, αλλα απο κει κι επειτα το βιβλιο απογειωνεται και συνεχιζει ετσι μεχρι την τελευταια σελιδα. Σπουδαιος αφη ...more
Algernon
Aug 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013

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
May 09, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lizzy
A History of the World in 10 Chapters was not what I expected, but that happens a lot to me when reading Julian Barnes. I like surprises, and enjoyed the book. My problem is frequently uncontrolled expectations. I had a similar feeling reading Flaubert's Parrot, if I remember correctly since I read both years ago.

It is highly entertaining and the choice of narrator in each fragment is a feat of imagination. Always true with Barnes' writings. The story grew on me as I read on, at the same time a
...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.
Mark
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Moira Fogarty
I've had 'A History of the World in 10 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. Jul
...more
Matt
Jul 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nicole
I had forgotten how great this book is. It's better than I remember. I think Barnes is best with short pieces that interact with each other. This is probably the best of the things of his that I've read; I also really enjoyed Pulse, and I think in the same way.

It was also interesting reading this in conjunction with Not Wanted on the Voyage, which I suspect Barnes had read (there's an all-caps use of the phrase which I think is a reference). This treatment is still in the realm of critique, but
...more
Haje
Nov 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Angie
Mar 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Hippo dari Hongkong

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
Beka Adamashvili
თუ ბედობა დღეს რაიმეს დაბედების რწმენას ოდნავ მაინც შეიძლება ენდო, მშვენიერი წიგნების წაკითხვა დამბედებია.

ბიბლიური თემატიკის ასეთი ირონიული გადათამაშება, აქამდე მხოლოდ იესოს სახარებასა და იმ ერთ წიგნში შემხვედრია, რომლის სახელსაც ვერ ვიხსენებ :3
Jim Fonseca
This book is a mixed bag and hard to categorize. I’ll call it a collection of short stories and essays, some of which are interconnected. For example, the theme of Noah’s Ark applies to at least three of the pieces -- a story of the trip in which the Ark is a fleet of filthy prison-like ships under the dubious leadership of a drunken Noah. Then two Irish women go on an expedition to a village on Mt. Ararat. And an astronaut who walked on the moon abandons science for religion and searches the mo ...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
Karen
Jun 18, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Roula
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
απλα υπεροχο...
John David
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
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 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 s
...more
Ann Helen
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stjerner
Mel
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ashish
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: purchased
Every book by Julian Barnes manages to amaze me. His proficiency with the language and his sheer ingenuity in using it to write about such diverse topics makes him one of the best and most versatile writers ever. This book is a magical ride in the mind of the author as he writes connected chapters all of which have their heart and soul in an underlying idea, something that in spirit guides the reader through the marvellous journey that the author paves for us.

In 300-odd pages the author manages
...more
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
Raquel
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
É dos autores mais completos da sua geração e a sua versatilidade atravessa todos os temas possíveis e imaginários. A tarefa de Julian Barnes não era menos desafiante e ambiciosa neste 'A History of the World in 10 Chapters', onde a realidade e a ficção se misturam sem medos.

http://leiturasmarginais.blogspot.pt/...
...more
Nick Davies
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I've had this book on my shelves for somewhere in excess of fifteen years, and am not sure why I failed to read it in all that time. The overarching impression of this unusual book - essentially eleven short stories with a semblance of common themes (Noah's ark, free will, Middle-Eastern history, travelling on water, facing the unknown) - was that it was of very high literary quality and that Barnes writes exceedingly well.

There was plenty which will stick with me as thought-provoking, plenty wh
...more
Pamela
Jan 07, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  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
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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
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“Women were brought up to believe that men were the answer. They weren't. They weren't even one of the questions. ” 173 likes
“Perhaps love is essential because it's unnecessary.” 82 likes
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