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Something To Declare: Essays On France (2002)

Something to Declare: Essays on France (2002)
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Rating
3.55 of 5 Votes: 5
ISBN
0375415130 (ISBN13: 9780375415135)
languge
English
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publisher
knopf
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Something To Declare: Essays On Franc...
Something To Declare: Essays On France (2002)

About book: This book of essays covers many of the topics that are recognized as French territory: filmmaker Truffaut and the New Wave, the Tour de France, the singers of the 50's-60's who moaned on finding out that they were sharing their mistresses with others. And then there are the nine, yes nine, chapters on Barnes' favorite writer, Flaubert.The writing is engaging from the beginning as Barnes describes his family vacations around France year after year, and his growing sense of comfort with the French culture. I especially appreciated his chapter on those singers such as Jacques Brel and Georges Brassens (though I can't understand why my favorite, Serge Gainsborg wasn't included) and the one on author Georges Simenon was full of decadent scandal and therefore wonderful.But you should probably really, really like Flaubert in order to get through those eight chapters which discuss not just his work, but his childhood, his affairs and the many pages on whether or not he burned his ex-girlfriend's love letters. Barnes spends quite some time telling the reader why Satre's bio on Flaubert was wrong.So, I guess I'm saying that if you're not so into Flaubert, the first eight chapters are still good reading, and if you love Flaubert, you'll be happy here.

I've now read three works by Julian Barnes, have enjoyed all of them and will definitely read others in the future. Having said that I found this collection of essays rather disjointed. If I was interested in the topic then the chapter, such as the ones about French music, French cinema and the Tour de France were really engaging and left me wanting to know more. The elements when Barnes was talking specifically about his own personal experiences with France were also expertly handled and drew me in but unfortunately well over half the book is about Flaubert, Barnes' own personal obsession but I must admit, not mine.If you want to learn far more about Flaubert than anyone could ever really need to know then add a star or two to the rating, otherwise read and enjoy the bits that work for you.One thing I will say though, after reading Barnes' other Gustave focused work Flaubert's Parrot I went out and bought Madam Bovery and after reading Something to Declare I might just get around to reading it.
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Reviews
James
This book collects France-related essays by Julian Barnes written over the course of almost two decades. There are some travel-pieces, and some personal reminiscences, but the bulk of the pieces are essentially book reviews -- and the bulk of those deal with a Barnes favourite, Gustave Flaubert. It does not read like a review-collection, however, as Barnes is in his Montaigne-like mode of writing with the books under discussion often merely a convenient stepping-stone for Barnes to share his own thoughts and knowledge. This is France through the senses and sensibility of Julian Barnes. From the Tour de France to French cooking you get a British perspective of the country. Barnes is a student of the language and literature and includes several essays on Flaubert - well-written and fun to read.
Catherine Woodman
Julian Barnes is a long established francophile, and the last half of the book is almost entirely devoted to Flaubert and his circle of influence. The other half is focused on French culture--both cuisine, but also their intellectual life. FOr those that are going to France and want to get a bit immersed in more than the regions, but the historical affiliation with the written word, this is a good place to start. Barnes feels that Flaubert's letters are a good window into his soul, and details which of the volumes of his letters is best at depicting what.
Amos Kovacs
אוסף של מסות על צרפת שאתה בארנס מנהל רומן אהבה מתמשך. חלקן מעניינות יותר (אוכל, מוזיקה) חלקן פחות (פלובר ועוד פעם פלובר)
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