Narrative Technique in Julian Barnes' 'Arthur & George': Negotiating Truth and Fiction by Olivia Frey

Narrative Technique in Julian Barnes' 'Arthur & George': Negotiating Truth and Fiction

byOlivia Frey

Kobo ebook | February 11, 2009

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Seminar paper from the year 2009 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 1,0, University of Vienna (Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik), course: Literature Seminar: 'Contemporary Neo-Victorian Novels', 20 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: In his novel Arthur & George Julian Barnes not only recreates the lives of his two eponymous characters, but also minutely reconstructs the historical incident that made their lives intersect. In the long-forgotten and unsolved case of the Great Wyrley Outrages in 1903, George Edalji (1877-1953), a half-Indian Birmingham solicitor, was wrongly convicted of animal mutilation and imprisoned. It was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), the famous writer and inventor of Sherlock Holmes, who slipped into the role of a detective to investigate the truth behind the case and to help undo a miscarriage of justice. On the one hand, the novel provides 'the conventional pleasure of historical fiction' (Walter, par. 4) because it revolves around real-life figures and is based on a real incident. Applying his investigative skills, Barnes carefully researched their biographies and history, and represents them faithfully and meticulously. On the other hand, it has to be borne in mind that it is nevertheless a fictionalized representation shaped by Barnes' creative and imaginative skills. Thus, the 'novel mixes reality and imagination so that the book is part history, part biography and part fiction' (Guignery 129). In terms of genre, Arthur & George could hence be classified as faction, 'a work that is on the borderline between fact and fiction, concerned primarily with a real event or persons, but using imagined detail to increase readability and verisimilitude' (Hawthorn 64). It is exactly this delicate relationship of proven facts and fictional creations Barnes plays with throughout the novel in order to expose '[t]he tenuous nature of reality and the fine line between truth and fiction' (Ball, par. 5). Therefore, Arthur & George could even be categorized as a postmodern novel which authentically represents history, while being aware of its own artificiality and questioning the dichotomy of fact and fiction as well as the claim to one objective truth. In this context, it is worth examining in how far this is reflected on the level of surface content as well as on the level of textualisation, particularly in terms of narrative technique, including discursive devices such as structure, narrative situation, modes of speech, thought and consciousness representation, intertextuality and metafiction.
Title:Narrative Technique in Julian Barnes' 'Arthur & George': Negotiating Truth and FictionFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:February 11, 2009Publisher:GRIN VerlagLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:364026567X

ISBN - 13:9783640265671

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