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Nothing To Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes

Nothing To Be Frightened Of (original 2008; edition 2009)

by Julian Barnes

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7762211,891 (3.72)23
Title:Nothing To Be Frightened Of
Authors:Julian Barnes
Info:Vintage (2009), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library, Religion & Ethics
Tags:British Writers

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Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes (2008)


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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
I finished this meditation on mortality out of stubbornness, but there's no reason anyone else should. Barnes's stated theme, "I don't believe in God, but I miss Him," accurately captures the sappy nostalgic navel-gazing to come. ( )
  AThurman | Dec 7, 2014 |
With his usual wit and wisdom, Barnes manages to take the reader through a thorough exploration of the subject, which is ‘the elephant in the room’ of humanity, death. It is what everyone wants to talk about and no one wants to talk about. It gets us all in the end and death can work backwards effecting our everyday approach to life. In what can only be described as a writer's understanding of how to tell a story in which the end is always present, Barnes takes us through the history of great thinking about death. He covers philosophy, art, tells us what great people have said about death and their last words. Barnes also shares his own observations about the life and death of his parents, his non-belief in God and the longings, which effect his perception of what death, and dying might be like. In the end, one wonders if the sibling rivalry between himself (a novelist) and his brother (a philosopher) might be symbolic of the struggle between our desires for some kind of emotional closure, perhaps even some kind of salvation and the cold logic that there can be no other life when life expires. I’ll take Barnes as guide on any tour and any subject, even one as illusion busting and morose as death, because, by golly, it feels like I’m more ALIVE when in the company of this great writer. ( )
  a_forester | Sep 12, 2014 |
I enjoyed the 65 pages that I read of this, but I found it's lack of narrative arc wore me down and I was left wanting to know where I was going.
  devilish2 | Aug 13, 2014 |
A challenging book to read. Not because of the writing, which is conversational and straightforward enough, but because of the subject matter. That is with Death. What he thinks about death, what others think about death and dying, how any of it makes or doesn't make sense. I'm very glad I read this book and would recommend it highly but only to people who would be open to reading an honest view on the pit into which we are all descending.. It is certainly not for everyone. ( )
  stuart10er | Nov 5, 2013 |
A brilliant collection of loosely joined thoughts and anecdotes on death, delivered in beautiful words. Humorous, light-handed, but not lighthearted, just a great read about death and dying, and how a lot of other writers and artists perceived it. A book you can pick up again and again, each time a little closer to death, and you may marvel at the fact, that you are going to die, as so many did before you, and how many thoughts can be thought regarding this simple fact. ( )
  Wolfseule | Oct 15, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
I think you should read it if:

a) you are dying
b) you are living
c) you have realised that a and b are the same.
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I don't believe in God, but I miss Him.
This is not, by the way, "my autobiography." Nor am I "in search of my parents." . . . Part of what I'm doing -- which may seem unnecessary -- is trying to work out how dead they are. My father died in 1992, my mother in 1997. (pp. 35-6)

Perhaps I should warn you (especially if you are a philosopher, theologian, or biologist) that some of this book will strike you as amateur, do-it-yourself stuff. But then we are all amateurs in and of our own lives. . . . I should also warn you that there are going to be a lot of writers in this book. Most of them are dead, and quite a few of them French. (p. 39)
...perhaps a sense of death is like a sense of humour. We all think the one we've got - or haven't got - is just about right, and appropriate to the proper understanding of life. It's everyone else who's out of step.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307269639, Hardcover)

Two years after the best-selling Arthur & George, Julian Barnes gives us a memoir on mortality that touches on faith and science and family as well as a rich array of exemplary figures who over the centuries have confronted the same questions he now poses about the most basic fact of life: its inevitable extinction.

If the fear of death is “the most rational thing in the world,” how does one contend with it? An atheist at twenty, an agnostic at sixty, Barnes looks into the various arguments for and against and with God, and at the bloodline whose archivist, following his parents’ death, he has become—another realm of mystery, wherein a drawer of mementos and his own memories (not to mention those of his philosopher brother) often fail to connect. There are other ancestors, too: the writers—“most of them dead, and quite a few of them French”—who are his daily companions, supplemented by composers and theologians and scientists whose similar explorations are woven into this account with an exhilarating breadth of intellect and felicity of spirit.

Deadly serious, masterfully playful, and surprisingly hilarious, Nothing to Be Frightened Of is a riveting display of how this supremely gifted writer goes about his business and a highly personal tour of the human condition and what might follow the final diagnosis.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:18 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"I don't believe in God, but I miss him." So begins this book, which is a family memoir, an exchange with his brother (a philosopher), a meditation on mortality and the fear of death, a celebration of art, an argument with and about God, and a homage to the writer Jules Renard. Barnes also draws poignant portraits of the last days of his parents, recalled with great detail, affection and exasperation. Other examples he takes up include writers, "most of them dead and quite a few of them French," as well as some composers, for good measure. Although he cautions us that "this is not my autobiography," the book nonetheless reveals much about Barnes the man and the novelist: how he thinks and how he writes and how he lives. At once deadly serious and dazzlingly playful, this is a wise, funny and constantly surprising tour of the human condition.--From publisher description.… (more)

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