Julian Barnes’s The Only Story – Within and Beyond the Author’s Idiosyncrasies

Authors

  • Petr Chalupský Charles University

Keywords:

Julian Barnes, The Only Story, the novel of recollection, history, memory, intertextuality

Abstract

Although Julian Barnes’s fiction is diverse in its generic, stylistic and narrative metamorphoses, in terms of its subject matter it has always been preoccupied with the theme of memory, with searching for the truth of what, how and why events happened in the past. The device of an ageing person recalling his younger years or attempting to reveal the secret of another’s past can be traced throughout Barnes’s career, but it has become especially prominent in his later works, which tend to be more grim and rueful. Their narrators are almost obsessed with the meaning of their existence as they contemplate its approaching end and mortality in general. The Only Story (2018) follows this course as it is told from the perspective of a retired man retelling the story of his youthful love affair and its consequences for his subsequent life. This paper discusses how the novel thematically and stylistically follows up on his 2011 Booker Prize winner The Sense of an Ending, but also how it offers a distinct narrative which, while responding to the previous works, still comes up with an original and invigorating variant of the novel of recollection Barnes has successfully exploited before.

References

Barnes, Julian. A History of the World in 10½ Chapters. London: Picador, 1990.

Barnes, Julian. The Sense of an Ending. London: Jonathan Cape, 2011.

Barnes, Julian. The Only Story. London: Jonathan Cape, 2018.

Chalupský, Petr. The “‘Novel of Recollections’ – Narration as a Means of Coming to Terms with the Past.” International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature 5, no. 2 (2016): 90–96.

Childs, Peter. Julian Barnes. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011.

Clanchy, Kate. (2018). “The Only Story by Julian Barnes review – an exquisite look at love.” The Guardian, January 26, 2018. Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/26/the-only-story-julian-barnes-review>.

Clark, Alex. “Julian Barnes’s latest novel, The Only Story, is a tale of absolute devastation.” New Statesman, January 28, 2018. Available at: <https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2018/01/julian-barnes-s-latest-novel-only-story-tale-absolute-devastation>.

Cooke, Rachel. “Julian Barnes: ‘Flaubert could have written a great novel about contemporary America.’” The Guardian, January 29, 2018. Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/29/julian-barnes-interview-the-only-story>.

Craven, Peter. “The Only Story review: Julian Barnes’ powerful requiem for a love lost.” The Sydney Morning Herald, May 8, 2018. Available at: <https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/the-only-story-review-julian-barnes-powerful-requiem-for-a-love-lost-20180508-h0zrpp.html>.

Fantys, Petr. “Doslov: Jediný příběh chameleóna britské prózy.” Afterword to the Czech translation of The Only Story. Praha: Odeon, 2019, 257–263.

Fiegel, Lara. “For Julian Barnes, the only story is a love story – and it’s inevitably bad.” The Spectator, January 27, 2018. Available at: <https://www.spectator.com.au/2018/01/for-julian-barnes-the-only-story-is-a-love-story-and-its-inevitably-sad>.

Groes, Sebastian and Peter Childs, eds. Julian Barnes. London: Continuum, 2011.

Guignery, Vanessa. The Fiction of Julian Barnes. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

Guignery, Vanessa, and Ryan Roberts. “Julian Barnes: The Final interview.” In Conversations with Julian Barnes, edited by Vanessa Guignery and Ryan Roberts, 161–188. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2009.

Kermode, Frank. The Sense of an Ending. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Millay, Thomas. J. “Annotations of Pain: First Love in The Only Story.” Los Angeles Review of Books, April 17, 2018. Available at: <https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/annotations-of-pain-first-love-in-the-only-story>.

Miroshnychenko, Lilia. “Literature and the Post-secular: The Case of Julian Barnes.” American & British Studies Annual 12 (2019): 53–62.

Preston, Alex. “The Only Story review – Julian Barnes goes back to Metroland.” The Guardian, February 4, 2018. Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/feb/04/the-only-story-review-julian-barnes>.

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Published

2021-12-06

How to Cite

Chalupský, P. (2021). Julian Barnes’s The Only Story – Within and Beyond the Author’s Idiosyncrasies. American &Amp; British Studies Annual, 14, 9–23. Retrieved from https://absa.upce.cz/index.php/absa/article/view/2348

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