A meet-up on a bridge straight from a spy film segues to a sit-down in a tourist area restaurant. The Magus is a much finer novel than the Barnes one which seemed to me like a first draft of a novel that really needed to be fleshed out. That letter turns up 40 years later in a package from a lawyer and he is shocked to see it. After graduating from high school, Adrian moves on to Cambridge University, one of the top two colleges in England. Not understanding what Veronica meant by this complication, Tony thinks that she is just trying to get rid of him. He met Margaret, got married, had a daughter and got divorced.
Some may say that with his spare last few pages, Barnes does the reader no favors. Tony replies to the letter, telling Adrian that in his opinion Veronica was damaged in some way and that he should talk to her mother about it. And beyond these, there is unrest. I appreciate reading your summary, but am equally glad that I did not know all of it before I read the novel. Many books feature unreliable narrators but it's quite refreshing to read one where the narrator is pondering their own unreliability. What sort of cockamamie political correctness describes this devastating blow as anything other than a tragedy? The stuff that has left other people reeling in amazement reminded me of little more than just another essay on the mind and the way we think, the way we interpret events and the way our memories can let us down. Emsie in Los Angeles wishes to respectfully disagree.
Then I wished him good luck, burned his letter in an empty grate melodramatic, I agree, but I plead youth as a mitigating circumstance , and decided that the two of them were out of my life for ever. Then I said he couldn't. Who avoided being hurt and called it a capacity for survival. I know this much: that there is objective time, but also subjective time, the kind you wear on the inside of your wrist, next to where the pulse lies. And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life.
It has always been like that. Thank you for such a fascinating review and subsequent threads. Much better, I think, was a system used by Malcolm Bradbury as chairman: he had everyone rank the books A, B, C or D. The book is thin and the letters are big. I can only hope that our collective memories never fool us into thinking that our time together has been anything but great.
The larger issues, as you, Jess, write, are the meaning of memory, fact, history, and our involvement with one another. A shift of narrative focus back in time may change our interpretation of something which happened much later in the chronology of the story, but which we have already experienced as readers of the text. The victim was therefore still alive then. I thought this a gem of a book. But it was too nicely written to be one star. The comment in the hospital that Adrian committed suicide because of the nasty letter he sent in his youth was his way of letting the past keep the status quo outwards but inside he knew this was not true anymore. They could also be subject to insecurity if they think that their daughter might be stealing all the affection of their husband.
I was amused, surprised but definitely bewildered by the brilliancy on how Barnes put everything intricately together. And then you gasp with a sudden disbelief at the ignorance which might have silently crept in and stayed along while you felt contented with your version of perceptions? Is Tony the cause of all the tragedy? But Barnes goes one subtle step further. Soon after, Adrian kills himself. I never inferred that Tony had an actual affair with Sarah. Even though it is strangely satisfying to watch owing to the upbeat music he chooses, the cardinal issue at hand steers away. They use simple prose but with such a punch. As you can tell, it was a very productive evening.
Two thoughts come to mind. This is heavy business, but Barnes lays it flat out, no stylistic wand-waving, no tricks. Written by Polly Barbour Webster has retired and he lives alone. But as that second hand insists on speeding up and time delivers us all too quickly into middle age and then old age, that's when you want something a little milder, don't you? When he talks at length with Veronica, he learns that she is in possession of Adrian's diary, but she won't give it to him right away. At a later stage, we find even his friends wearing the watch in the same manner. Definitely British but it is not stiff and rigid.
You might think that Tony is being overly hard on himself because who would take a letter of passionate anger so seriously? However, the unexpected arrival of an unsettling letter will disrupt the fine balance of things in Tony's orderly life, reconnecting him with his first love from college, Veronica, and the nostalgic, yet clouded memories of a distant past. He wrote the two of them a nasty, vicious letter and promptly forgot about it. A snr has a mysterious missing mother. Written by people who wish to remain anonymous Tony Tony is the main character of the novel, but the idea of him being the protagonist is debatable. Was Adrian having a relationship with Veronica? And a book has to be judged in the terms the author lays out, not by any absolute standard of morality. I had never really intended to read this book, and I certainly had no intention of owning it. I know it is Julian Barnes, Booker Prize, what not, but that stuff was cheesy, ok? Whose assessment is more accurate? Barnes bisbiglia a me lettore che Tony mi riguarda, è come me, fatto della stessa materia, la sua vita da ragazzo e poi quella da adulto potrebbero essere la mia.