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A History of the World in 10½ Chapters (1989)

by Julian Barnes

Other authors: Théodore Géricault (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,870643,254 (3.83)146
Winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2011Beginning with an unlikely stowaway's account of life on board Noah's Ark, A History of the World in 10 Chapters presents a surprising and subversive fictional-history of earth told from several kaleidoscopic perspectives. Noah disembarks from his ark but he and his Voyage are not forgotten- they are revisited in on other centuries and other climes - by a Victorian spinster mourning her father, by an American astronaut on an obsessive personal mission. We journey to the Titanic, to the Amazon, to the raft of the Medusa, and to an ecclesiastical court in medieval France where a bizarre case is about to begin...This is no ordinary history, but something stranger; a challenge and a delight for the reader's imagination. Ambitious yet accessible, witty and playfully serious, this is the work of a brilliant novelist.… (more)
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» See also 146 mentions

English (57)  Dutch (4)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  All languages (64)
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
Entertaining and thought-provoking short-story collection themed around alternative retellings of historical events; recommended. ( )
  sfj2 | May 10, 2024 |
This book was a dissapointment after reading "Flaubert's Parrot".
The concept behind the structure of the book is very interesting and daring. Unfortunately, the result is in my opinion very uneven in quality. Quite often I had to force myself to read on.

The first story ("The Stowaway") was hilarious (if irreverent) and I enjoyed "Shipwreck","Project Arrarat" and, in particular, Barnes' meditation on love ("Parenthesis"). ( )
  Brazgo67 | Jan 23, 2024 |
Writing a complete history of the world is a mere 10 and a half chapters would be a pretty difficult thing to do, and in essence, Barnes doesn't really even try to do this in this book. it really is nothing more than a catchy title. But the novel is an interesting examination of the role love and religion have played in shaping the world as we know it, using Noah's Ark as it's central theme. And I must say, I was thoroughly amused at how often, and how well Barnes repeatedly weaved the character of the wood worm into the narration. ( )
  kevinkevbo | Jul 14, 2023 |
Ambitious novel without a typical novel structure, the longform essay as novel. Continued themes of truth, love and what history does to them. Ennui of Barnes’s previous books now actively shipwrecked. Barnes links historical oddities from Noah's Ark to the astronaut's Arafat Project identifying the oddities of human perception. Graham Greene better at 'the human factor' and there is a little too much author, not enough work, in places. Strong JB theme of the fabulist nature of historical accounts. ( )
  saschenka | Mar 12, 2023 |
A deep rumination on woodworms on the Arc and other related maritime excursions with love and a rather loveless afterlife for spice. Somewhere between nightmare and dream is the strange heart of this biblical group of salted fantasies. ( )
  quondame | Aug 17, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
added by KayCliff | editGuardian, Jonathan Coe (Jun 23, 1922)
 

» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Julian Barnesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Géricault, ThéodoreIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Courtois-Fourcy, MichelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
De Juan, MaribelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gyllenhak, UlfTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoog, ElseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jennings, AlexNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jennings, AlexNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lynn, JennyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, SusanDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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to Pat Kavanagh
First words
They put the behemoths in the hold along with the rhinos, the hippos and the elephants.
Quotations
These are grand words. We must make sure we deserve them. Listen to them again: 'I love you.' Subject, verb, object: the unadorned impregnable sentence. The subject is a short word, implying the self-effacement of the lover. The verb is longer but unambiguous, a demonstrative moment as the tongue flicks anxiously away from the palate to release the vowel. The object, like the subject, has no consonants, and is attained by pushing the lips forward as if for a kiss. 'I love you.' How serious, how weighted, how freighted it sounds.
Here the manuscript ... breaks off, without giving details of the annual penance ... It appears from the condition of the parchment that in the course of the last four and a half centuries it has been attacked, perhaps on more than one occasion, by some species of termite, which has devoured the closing words of the juge d'Eglise.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2011Beginning with an unlikely stowaway's account of life on board Noah's Ark, A History of the World in 10 Chapters presents a surprising and subversive fictional-history of earth told from several kaleidoscopic perspectives. Noah disembarks from his ark but he and his Voyage are not forgotten- they are revisited in on other centuries and other climes - by a Victorian spinster mourning her father, by an American astronaut on an obsessive personal mission. We journey to the Titanic, to the Amazon, to the raft of the Medusa, and to an ecclesiastical court in medieval France where a bizarre case is about to begin...This is no ordinary history, but something stranger; a challenge and a delight for the reader's imagination. Ambitious yet accessible, witty and playfully serious, this is the work of a brilliant novelist.

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Haiku summary
These simple stories
Connect mountain and shipwreck
Through people and dreams.
(Thruston)

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