Happy Birthday, Julian Barnes, born 19 January 1946
Julian Barnes: 10 Literary Quotes
- Books say: she did this because. Life says: she did this. Books are where things are explained to you, life where things aren’t. I’m not surprised some people prefer books.
- It’s easy, after all, not to be a writer. Most people aren’t writers, and very little harm comes to them.
- Well, I’m not going to tell people why they should read me. That sort of thing is for politicians.
- And being a writer gives you a sense of historical community, which I feel rather weakly as a normal social being living in early twenty-first-century Britain. For example, I don’t feel any particular ties with the world of Queen Victoria, or the participants of the Civil War or the Wars of the Roses, but I do feel a very particular tie to various writers and artists who are contemporaneous with those periods and events.
- The writer must be universal in sympathy and an outcast by nature: only then can he see clearly.
- Books make sense of life. The only problem is that the lives they make sense of are other people’s lives, never your own.
- When you read a great book, you don’t escape from life, you plunge deeper into it. There may be a superficial escape – into different countries, mores, speech patterns – but what you are essentially doing is furthering your understanding of life’s subtleties, paradoxes, joys, pains and truths. Reading and life are not separate but symbiotic.
- The first draft is fraught with difficulty. It’s like giving birth, very painful, but after that taking care of and playing with the baby is full of joy.
- (Literature is) a process of producing grand, beautiful, well-ordered lies that tell more truth than any assemblage of facts. Beyond that, literature is many things, such as delight in, and play with, language; also, a curiously intimate way of communicating with people whom you will never meet.
- The best life for a writer is the life which helps him write the best books he can.
Barnes won the Man Booker Prize for The Sense of an Ending, after three of his earlier books had been short-listed for the prize: Flaubert’s Parrot, England, England, and Arthur & George. He has also written crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh.
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