zaterdag 29 augustus 2015

Julian Barnes: Flaubert’s Parrot


I got this one from a friend (yes you Emma :) ) who was getting rid of a few books.
It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 1984.
This is my third Julian Barnes novel and it has 190 pages.

“Which of two stuffed parrots was the inspiration for one of Flaubert's greatest stories? Why did the master keep changing the colour of Emma Bovary's eyes? And why should it matter so much to Geoffrey Braithwaite, a retired doctor haunted by a private secret? In "Flaubert's Parrot", Julian Barnes spins out a multiple mystery of obsession and betrayal (both scholarly and romantic) and creates an exuberant enquiry into the ways in which art mirrors life and then turns around to shape it.”

I had a mixed reading experience before. And this one doesn’t help me make up my mind about a writer as widely acknowledged as Barnes is.

This is definitely one of those novels I would only read once.

It is a very comprehensive, but dry, overview of Gustave Flaubert.
But that’s (in my opinion) all there is too it. The story surrounding it is just a means to an end. As if he didn’t want to write a real biography and tried to find a way around that. So we get an old man who wants to write a biography but who is too overwhelmed by all the material. I liked the old man; he’s a dreamer and very smart.
And I’m really not interested in the whereabouts of the parrot. Or whatever the hell he could stand for. I mean, you can give meaning to anything.

But it’s also about the act of writing itself, about writing a biography, about reviewing and critics and I did find that interesting. He does contradict himself here but I guess that’s the whole point. You could give meaning to everything and anything but does that mean you have to or that the writer meant you to do that?

Interesting, but it felt more like work to finish this one.

Happy reading.