Spring 2007 • Vol. XXIX No. 2 Book Reviews |

The Casual Reader

Arthur & George by Julian Barnes. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 2006. 400 pp., $24.95. I had not intended to read this book. Although I read and completely loved, twenty years ago, Barnes's Flaubert's Parrot, a novel taking an actual stuffed parrot with a distinguished literary heritage as its starting point (to this day I keep a photo of the parrot in question, donated to Rouen's Museum of Natural History by the author of Madame Bovary, on my desk), I had somewhat lost track of Julian Barnes over the years. Too many books, it seemed to me, and books with wispy titles that didn't make me want to pick them up: Love, Etc.; England, England; Cross Channel. This new book, too, had in my superficial estimation a weak title, and an uninspiring jacket design as well, including poorly chosen colors (such are the ways books are selected by readers). In the ever-continuing flood of new novels, Arthur & George felt like a book that could be left unread. I couldn't have b

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André Bernard is vice president and secretary of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The author of four books, he also compiles “Commonplace Book” for the American Scholar.

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