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The oddness of Julian Barnes and The Sense of an Ending

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2014
<mark>Journal</mark>English
Issue number242
Volume63
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)225-240
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article examines the range of responses to oddness – everything that is offbeat, lopsided, or decategorized in human experience – dramatized by the fiction of Julian Barnes. Barnes is a connoisseur of eccentricity: the figure of the oddball – the crank, hobbyist, or obsessive – frequently takes centre stage in his fiction, often in the guise of a distinctly unreliable narrator. And odd numbers, especially triptychs of inter-related stories and triangular romantic relations, seem to dominate his narrative structures. Yet, his fiction also displays misgivings about its own connoisseurial delight in oddness. These misgivings are particularly legible in his Booker Prize-winning novel, The Sense of an Ending, a text in which the Barnesian language of oddness is both deployed and subtly undermined.