This book proposes a journey through Julian Barnes’s papers, drafts, manuscripts, typescripts, notebooks, letters and emails which are preserved at the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The aim is to explore the genesis of eight of Barnes’s novels from Metroland to The Sense of an Ending and of his essay/memoir Nothing to Be Frightened Of by offering a view from the margins, from scraps of paper and scribblings, words under erasure, false starts and discarded thoughts. The book makes a foray into the Barnes apocrypha and offers interludes in the form of an unconventional chronology and an oblique dictionary to provide yet more vistas into Barnes’s work, the cultural context in which it is situated and some aspects of his life. By casting light on the living process of literary creation, this investigation uncovers the intricate palimpsest of Barnes’s work and helps understand how the writer made decisive choices that led to the final versions of his novels.
Vanessa Guignery. Julian Barnes from the Margins. Exploring the Writer’s Archives. London: Bloomsbury, 2020. 272p. (ISBN : 9781350125018)