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England, England by Julian Barnes

England, England (original 1998; edition 2000)

by Julian Barnes

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1,461295,119 (3.27)95
Title:England, England
Authors:Julian Barnes
Info:Vintage (2000), Paperback, 288 pages

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England, England by Julian Barnes (1998)


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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
I was excited about this book after reading the back copy, but it really disappointed. Not funny, and rarely even interesting. ( )
  JBD1 | May 3, 2017 |
Giving four stars for talent of the writing, not necessarily because I liked it or want to read it again. I see from other comments the author is considered postmodern which I can definitely see. And given the publication date, it's interesting to also realize that this style is not as current as it was when I studied it in some college courses at that time. The core story of the book is the development of a replica of "Old England" as an easy tourist destination. Personally I rather have liked noticing the markers of the usual "tourist traps" and how at this point I practically feel comfortable with them. But my dream traveling includes the real British Isles, so I had the opportunity to reflect how I've accepted replicas in other situations, but would not actually want to visit England, England.

In fact on this side of the pond, I'm strongly reminded of Las Vegas, even more so from the late 1990's. I visited and enjoyed the replica sites initially with enjoyment, but less so as I noticed the same instinct coming to where I live. New shopping developments that tried to look like old downtown districts. Multiplex theaters that used the names of old, torn-down movie palaces to mark their "streets" (all indoors). Thankfully that has faded from current architecture trends.

I did however spend some time trying to find an English counties puzzle map, to no avail without importing. I settled with some vintage atlas maps with family connections. ( )
  amarie | Mar 14, 2016 |
The sarcastic and humorous development of characters and England were great. Much of today's world closely mimics this with its idolizing of the clean fake image of history and nation rather than their reality. The main character's story, while sometimes thought provoking, seemed a little disconnected. The humor makes it worthwhile. ( )
  snash | Jul 3, 2015 |
Not quite sure what to make of this. It was wickedly barbed in places; horrifyingly funny in places (reminded me of Carl Hiaasen) ; wincingly satiric in others. It's one of those books I suspect I am not sophisticated enough to embrace. I loved the whole premise of an "alternate England" theme park which becomes more popular than the real-life one. And lord, Barnes has a marvelous talent for words! But I found the last third of the novel weirdly dull compared to the first two sections. It's basically a laundry list of the events that happened to the island over the next 10 years. The story of the two lovers is strangely incomplete. And I wasn't really sure if I was meant to think England was actually delivered...or damned...by its return to a more bucolic existence.

It would be lovely to be delivered from Donald Trump by an American Martha... ( )
  Turrean | Feb 15, 2014 |
Sir Jack, not just a captain of industry but an admiral of industry, wants to hit a grand slam.
With the help of a cocaine sniffing consultant, he gets the idea to reshape England as a miniature touristic attraction with as motto 'replicas are better than the original'.
After quite some brainstorming sessions, their eyes fall on the Island of Wright.
They copy the original and makes it tourist friendly; everything is there; Big Ben, Westminster, teahouses, shepherds, Robin Hood, London cabs, double-deckers and even the royal family.
It is a success.
According to Sir Jacks genial plan the island of Wright proclaims independence as "England, England"!
It becomes an Eden, without government, without criminality, only driven by economics.
Martha the assistant of Sir Jack, eliminates Sir Jack with a fancy blackmail.
But there are side effects. The characters are as time passes identifying themselves more and more with the originals.
Smugglers smuggles, Robin Hoods wants to throw the 'obliged' homosexuals and disabled from the band, as they reduce his fighting power.
After an unsuccessful commando action to disband the band of Robin Hood, Martha is kicked out and returns to the original England, that has retrograded on his own and is now called Anglia.

Original narration
sophisticated humor
unique view on business and consultants!
Typical Barnes

Unique work about the recreation of England as attraction park. To have. ( )
  albertkep | Feb 2, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Barnes uses his copious talents as a writer -- his lapidary prose, his eye for the askew detail, his ear for the circumlocutions of contemporary speech -- to turn the saga of England, England into an uproarious farce that mocks both our postmodernist suspicion of the authentic and our Disney-like willingness to turn that embrace of the ersatz into a money-making machine. He examines the arbitrary nature of history writing and the cyclical nature of history, and he satirizes the ideas that the English hold about themselves.
A mischievous satire on the marketing of illusion and a trenchant analysis of a rootless woman’s interrupted pursuit of authenticity are joined in a highly original way in this consummately entertaining novel, the eighth by the dependably clever British author.
added by Nickelini | editKirkus Reviews (May 10, 1999)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Julian Barnesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gower, NeilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'What's your first memory?' someone would ask.
[The sleaze journalist's victim] felt initially calmed both by Gary's manner and by his lies.... Instead of suggestive pencil-licking, he made slow notes with a gold-nibbed fountain-pen, the sort of semi-antique that could become a talking-point ... And the tape-recorder would turn and turn - the likeable fountain-pen having long been put away ... By this time you had already signed the contract and seen the air-tickets.
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Book description
Imagine an England where all the pubs are quaint, where the Windsors behave themselves (mostly), where the cliffs of Dover are actually white, and where Robin Hood and his merry men really are merry. This is precisely what visionary tycoon Sir Jack Pitman seeks to accomplish on the Isle of Wight, a "destination" where tourists can find replicas of Big Ben (half size), Princess Di's grave, and even Harrod's (conveniently located inside the tower of London).
Martha Cochrane, hired as one of Sir Jack's resident "no-people," ably assist him in realizing his dream. But when this land of make-believe gradually gets horribly and hilariously out of hand, Martha develops her own vision of the perfect England. Julian Barnes delights us with a novel that is at once a philosophical inquiry, a burst of mischief, and a moving elegy about authenticity and nationality.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375705503, Paperback)

Imagine being able to visit England--all of England--in a single weekend. Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Stonehenge and Hadrian's Wall, Harrods, Manchester United Football Club, the Tower of London, and even the Royal Family all within easy distance of the each other, accessible, and, best of all, each one living up to an idealized version of itself. This fantasy Britain is the very real (and some would say very cynical) vision of Sir Jack Pitman, a monumentally egomaniacal mogul with a more than passing resemblance to modern-day buccaneers Sir Rupert Murdoch or Robert Maxwell: "'We are not talking theme park,' he began. 'We are not talking heritage centre. We are not talking Disneyland, World's Fair, Festival of Britain, Legoland or Parc Asterix.'" No indeed; Sir Jack proposes nothing less than to offer "the thing itself," a re-creation of everything that adds up to England in the hearts and minds of tourists looking for an "authentic" experience. But where to locate such an enterprise? As Sir Jack points out,
England, as the mighty William and many others have observed, is an island. Therefore, if we are serious, if we are seeking to offer the thing itself, we in turn must go in search of a precious whatsit set in a silver doodah.
Soon the perfect whatsit is found: the Isle of Wight; and a small army of Sir Jack's forces are sent to lay siege to it. Swept up in the mayhem are Martha Cochrane, a thirtysomething consultant teetering on the verge of embittered middle age, and Paul Harrison, a younger man looking for an anchor in the world. The two first find each other, then trip over a skeleton in Sir Jack's closet that might prove useful to their careers but disastrous to their relationship. In the course of constructing this mad package-tour dystopia, Julian Barnes has a terrific time skewering postmodernism, the British, the press, the government, celebrity, and big business. At the same time his very funny novel offers a provocative meditation on the nature of identity, both individual and national, as the lines between the replica and the thing itself begin to blur. Readers of Barnes have learned to expect the unexpected, and once again he more than lives up to the promise in England, England. But then, that was only to be expected. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:26 -0400)

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When tycoon Sir Jack Pitman tries to build a theme park representing historic England, matters go awry.

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