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Arthur & George
JULIAN BARNES

Arthur & George by Julian Barnes
114 reviews (2006) (400p)
Man Booker Prize Finalist

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Book Description
From one of England's most esteemed novelists, an utter astonishment that captures an era through one life celebrated internationally and another entirely forgotten.

In the vast expanse of late-Victorian Britain, two boys come to life: George, the son of a Midlands vicar, and Arthur, in shabby genteel Edinburgh, both of them feeling at once near to and impossibly distant from the beating heart of Empire. One falls prey to a series of pranks en route to a legal vocation, while the other studies medicine before discovering a different calling entirely, and it is years before their destinies are entwined in a mesmerizing alliance. We follow each through outrageous accusation and unrivaled success, through faith and perseverance and dogged self-recrimination, whether in the dock awaiting complete disgrace or at the height of fame while desperately in love with a woman not his wife, and gradually realize that George is half-Indian and that Arthur becomes the creator of the world's most famous detective. Ranging from London clubs to teeming prisons, from a lost century to the modern age, this novel is a panoramic revelation of things we thought we knew or else had no clue of, as well as a gripping exploration of what goals drive us toward whatever lies in wait–an experience resounding with issues, no less relevant today, of crime and spirituality; of identity and nationality; of what we think, what we believe and what we can prove.

Intriguing, relentless and, most of all, moving, Arthur & George richly extends the reach and achievement of a novelist described by the Philadelphia Inquirer as "a dazzling mind in mercurial flight."


Amazon.com Review
A real tour de force from masterful author Julian Barnes is Arthur & George, which was short-listed for the 2005 Man Booker Prize. Late-Victorian Britain is brought to vivid life in the true story of the intersection of two lives: one an internationally famous author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the other, an obscure country lawyer, George Edalji, son of a Parsi Midlands vicar and a Scottish mother. They start out very differently. Arthur pursues a career in medicine before he discovers that he is really a writer; George, on his way to becoming a lawyer--near-sighted, timid and friendless--is victimized by locals because he is easy to scapegoat--a half-Indian in lily-white Great Wyrley.

The victimization of George takes the form of nasty letters, the theft of a school key, and finally, the accusation that he has mutilated animals. Meanwhile, Arthur is becoming more and more famous for creating Sherlock Holmes, whom he tries to kill off once and is forced to resurrect because of his fans' outcry. He marries, fathers two children and then, when his wife is invalided by consumption, falls madly in love for the first time with Jean Leckie.

The novel's style is smoothly revelatory. We slowly come to realize that George is half-Indian, that Arthur is the famous Doyle, that the woman he loves, chastely, is not his wife and, sadly, that George will not prevail over the forces ranged against him.

When George, desperate to resume his law career after imprisonment, sends Arthur the sad chronicle of his history, Arthur sees immediately that he could not be guilty and sets out to clear his name. This case of George's lifts Arthur from the slough of despond into which he has sunk after his wife, Touie, dies. He is guilt-ridden, constantly wondering if he was attentive enough, if she could possibly have known about Jean. Realizing the immense injustice George has suffered, he is shaken out of lethargy and, in Holmesian fashion, sets out to solve the case.

Julian Barnes is a gifted writer of enormous accomplishment. This novel is thoroughly engrossing, filled with Barnes's trademark themes of identity and love, longing and loss, and ultimately, an examination of man's inhumanity to man. --Valerie Ryan


Other Award Winning Books by Julian Barnes
The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes
161 reviews (2016) (224p) (PW ANMCT) () () (Econ)
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The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
1194 reviews (2011) (160p) (Amazon Top100) (NYT100) (Kirkus Top25) (New Yorker) (Booker) (ALA)
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Nothing To Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes
34 reviews (2008) (256p) (NYTimes Non)
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The Lemon Table by Julian Barnes
27 reviews (2004) (256p) (ALA)
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England, England by Julian Barnes
39 reviews (1998) (288p) (Booker)
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A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 10 1/2 CHAPTERS by Julian Barnes
60 reviews (1989) (320p) (NYTimes)
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STARING AT THE SUN by Julian Barnes
7 reviews (1987) (208p) (NYTimes)
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Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes
37 reviews (1984) (192p) (Booker) (NYTimes)
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Julian Barnes Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 6  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 5  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 0  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 0  
Man Booker Prize Wins 1 The Sense of an Ending ·  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 4 England, England · Flaubert's Parrot · Arthur & George · The Sense of an Ending ·  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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