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by Julian Barnes




From one of Englandâ?s most esteemed novelists, an utter astonishment that captures an era through one life celebrated internationally and another entirely forgotten.In the vast expanse of late-Victorian Britain, two boys come to life: George, the son of a Midlands vicar, and Arthur, in shabby genteel Edinburgh, both of them feeling at once near to and impossibly distant from the beating heart of Empire. One falls prey to a series of pranks en route to a legal vocation, while the other studies medicine before discovering a different calling entirely, and it is years before their destinies are entwined in a mesmerizing alliance. We follow each through outrageous accusation and unrivaled success, through faith and perseverance and dogged self-recrimination, whether in the dock awaiting complete disgrace or at the height of fame while desperately in love with a woman not his wife, and gradually realize that George is half-Indian and that Arthur becomes the creator of the worldâ?s most famous detective. Ranging from London clubs to teeming prisons, from a lost century to the modern age, this novel is a panoramic revelation of things we thought we knew or else had no clue of, as well as a gripping exploration of what goals drive us toward whatever lies in waitâ?an experience resounding with issues, no less relevant today, of crime and spirituality; of identity and nationality; of what we think, what we believe and what we can prove.Intriguing, relentless and, most of all, moving, Arthur & George richly extends the reach and achievement of a novelist described by the Philadelphia Inquirer as â?a dazzling mind in mercurial flight.â?
Download Arthur & George epub
ISBN: 0786286652
ISBN13: 978-0786286652
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Genre Fiction
Author: Julian Barnes
Language: English
Publisher: Thorndike Pr; Large Print edition (July 30, 2006)
Pages: 784 pages
ePUB size: 1107 kb
FB2 size: 1568 kb
Rating: 4.9
Votes: 423
Other Formats: txt lit mbr mobi

Lanionge
I did not grow up in a house full of books. In fact, there were few on our bookshelves other than the ubiquitous King James Bible. I loved comic books, especially the Tarzan of the Apes ones. I read and reread them, and later, when I was around twelve I think, I began to discover REAL books.

The first ones that I found on my own were the Sherlock Holmes novels. I was drawn to them because I knew the name Sherlock Holmes. Even virtual illiterates could not escape the name of the great "first consulting detective" or the knowledge of his story.

The first book that I bought by myself was a volume of the complete Sherlock Holmes stories. He was my first literary love and I have remained true to him all these years later. He still fascinates me as he still fascinates much of the world, as evidenced by the popularity of modern movies, television shows, and literary pastiches featuring him.

What must it have taken to conjure up such a character? How much of his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, is inherent in the fictional man? I get the feeling from reading Julian Barnes' Arthur & George that there is quite a bit of Doyle in Holmes.

Of course, Barnes is such an exceptional writer and such a perceptive observer of human nature that it must have been easy for him to make those connections and then to convey them to his readers. Or perhaps not. His writing seems to flow so effortlessly that the reader intuits that it was easy for him to produce it. But maybe we are not giving him enough credit. Maybe he struggles to make it all look easy. Just as there was hard work and a lot of research and experimentation behind Sherlock Holmes' brilliant deductions about complicated crimes. Or behind Arthur Conan Doyle's writing of them.

But I digress.

The Arthur in Arthur & George is, of course, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The George is the much less well-known George Edalji, a native-born Englishman of Indian and Scottish descent. His father was a Parsee out of India who became vicar of a South Staffordshire church where he served for some forty years. His mother was from Scotland. George was the oldest of three children and much was expected of him.

The book is based on true events that took place at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. It was a time when Arthur was married with two children, but his wife had been diagnosed with consumption. There was no cure, but Arthur threw himself into the fight to delay the inevitable as long as possible.

In the middle of this fight, he met and fell in love with Jean Leckie. He loved her - and she him - from afar for many years before the inevitable did, in fact, happen, and they were free to marry.

Meantime, George Edalji and his family were involved in their own fight. They were being harassed and tormented by an unknown persecutor, or persecutors, in the village. This progressed to the point that George, now a licensed solicitor, was framed for the mutilation of farm animals. The investigation and prosecution was a travesty of justice but he was sent to prison for eight years. However, he was released after three years.

After his release, he sent a letter with all the newspaper clippings about his case to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and asked for the great man's help in clearing his name. As it happened, Doyle received this missive at a low point in his life, after the death of his wife. He needed something to bring him out of himself. George Edalji's case was just the ticket.

Once again, he wholeheartedly threw himself into a fight - this time the fight to find justice for a wrongly convicted man. In some ways, the fight was the salvation of Arthur as much as George.

Julian Barnes tells this engrossing story from the alternating perspectives of George, then Arthur, and occasionally of other characters as well. From the beginning, we can see that a great wrong has been committed but that there is hope for redemption and redress. How could one not love such a story?

Barnes weaves various themes through this tale. There is the obvious one (to everyone except George and his family) of racism. It seems apparent that the contempt and disdain with which George is dealt throughout his ordeal has its basis in rampant racism, and yet, he refuses to ever consider that as an explanation. He is seriously in denial regarding the attitudes of his neighbors.

Ancillary to the racist attitudes is the theme of just how easy it is to instill ideas into the receptive minds of listeners or readers or viewers. And once those ideas are lodged there, how difficult it is to get them out.

An overarching theme for much of the book, and especially for the last third, is death. Conan Doyle became a true believer in spiritualism and the talents of mediums and uses of the seance, and he was a powerful proselytizer for his belief that death is not the end. It is merely a transition from one plane of life to another.

This is a book that is packed with ideas. They reveal themselves slowly, which might be a problem for an impatient reader. But for those who can take the time to absorb the complexity of Barnes' themes, the rewards are great.
Cetnan
An intriguing novel based on an episode in Arthur Conan Doyle's life in which he helped clear the name of a young solicitor falsely accused of killing a horse and writing threatening letters to himself. George is the son of an Indian immigrant who is the vicar of a church in a small village. When George was a child, he was subjected to bullying and name calling by the other children who told him he was not the right sort. Despite or perhaps George becomes a solicitor, the prejudice against him takes on ominous forms in a letter writing campaign -- anonymous hate filled letters that threaten and revile George and his family. The local constable has never liked George and is instrumental in convincing his superiors that George is guilty of the above crimes. Barnes depicts the injustice of the police and the court in a ludicrous miscarriage of justice. Be prepared for a long build up to George's eventual meeting with Arthur which includes detailed background stories on both men. I loved this book fascinating shifts between George and Arthur's very different lives. The ending is melancholic but perfect.
CONVERSE
This is based on the true story of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and George Edalji.

Edalji is a small town solicitor who is wrongly convicted of a series of crimes involving animal mutilation and is sentenced to 7 years imprisonment.

Doyle takes up the case which results in the conviction being quashed but not until Edalji has served 3 years.

Reading this you can understand why the Holmes stories portray the constabulary as dolts. I had to wonder how many people went to he gallows because of the ignorance and prejudices of those involved in the convicting process, scary indeed.

The novel contains a large amount of biographical detail regarding Doyle; his up bringing, his marriages which is very interesting, he is a very interesting man.

Barnes knows how to write a crime story as he has written several as 'Dan Kavanagh' featuring Duffy his gay private investigator which are great fun.

I enjoyed this and its well worth the time.
Simple
Historical fiction about lives of the renown Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and a lesser known individual, solicitor George Edalji. One was the son of a strong mother who drove in him a deep sense of family history, honor and chivalry. The other was the son of a pastor who instilled in him a strong rooting in religion and what it means to be an Englishman....despite his mixed heritage.
One goes on to study medicine and become a world famous writer, but loves a woman not his wife. The other, on his way to becoming a solicitor, becomes the victim of increasingly nasty anonymous letters and a suspect in the vicious maiming of farm animals. In an act of desperation to clear his name and restore his rightful place in his profession, George seeks our Arthur and presents him with his case, and this intersection of their paths result in changes in both their lives.

The book contains excerpts from letters and newspaper articles and Julian Barnes weaves these smoothly into his fictionalized take on the the personal experiences of both these men. Apart from the rich story, what's incredible is the degree to which he exposes the inner strength that exists in some people even in the face of unbearably unfair treachery, where they draw their strength from, how love can fuel a person to greatness, and how a person's integrity can slide because of an enormous desire for something beyond his reach, and the false sense of comfort one feels when one lives in denial of the truth.