Narrative Technique in Julian Barnes' "Arthur & George"
GRIN Verlag, 2009 - 60 pages
Seminar paper from the year 2009 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 1,0, University of Vienna (Institut fur 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
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absolute truth actually animal mutilations Arthur & George Arthur and George Arthur Conan Doyle Arthur’s and George’s Arthur’s death Arthur’s investigation authentic author’s note Barnes’s beginning and ending believe Captain Anson chapter character’s characters consciousness representation context of Arthur’s conviction of George’s Crumey Daily Telegraph detective fiction Doyle’s Edalji fact and fiction fictional universe George & Arthur George’s father George’s guilt Guignery 128 heterodiegetic Holmes 67 Home Office horse mutilation imagination Jean Leckie Jon Barnes Julian Barnes Lethbridge and Mildorf Man’s metafictional metaphor of sight myopia mystery Narrative Technique narrator narrator’s Negotiating Truth newspaper paratext past tense people’s police police’s polyphony present tense protagonists prove George’s innocence reader reality Schiff 70 Sherlock Holmes sight and vision Sir Arthur Conan Staffordshire Staffordshire police story level sub-section subjective truths t]he Technique in Julian thought and consciousness throughout the novel truth about love Truth and Fiction voices Wyrley Outrages