Understanding Julian Barnes surveys the career of an innovative British novelist who has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize on three occasions. In this analysis of Barnes's distinctive qualities and of his place in the British literary establishment, Merritt Moseley suggests that Barnes's greatest achievement is his ability to resist summary and categorization by imagining each book in a dramatically original way.
In evaluating Barnes's fiction, Moseley discusses the novelist's admiration for Gustave Flaubert, identifies his technical and thematic concerns, and explores the intrigue surrounding his divided career as a writer of serious novels, published under his own name, and of detective thrillers, published under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh. Moseley provides close readings of Barnes's book-length works, defending the writer against the charge that some of these volumes should not be considered novels at all and examining his commitment to writing books rich in the exploration of serious ideas.
Merritt Moseley is a professor of literature and language and Key Center Professor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He has written widely on recent British and Irish fiction and is the author of two other titles in this series, Understanding Kingsley Amis and Understanding Michael Frayn.