Essays & Reviews

Julian Barnes © Emma Hardy

© Emma Hardy for Intelligent Life Magazine

The following articles represent a selection of essays and reviews written by Julian Barnes from 1986 to the present. Some can be found in his books.

15 June 2024 - "Julian Barnes on Why Britain Must Legalise Assisted Dying." The Guardian. [Julian Barnes argues for dignity in dying.]

9 May 2024 - "Diary: Art and Memory." London Review of Books, vol. 46, no. 9. [Julian Barnes on how we remember (or misremember) works of art.]

14 December 2023 - "Painting Is Terribly Difficult." London Review of Books, vol. 45, no. 24. [Julian Barnes discusses Claude Monet and reviews Monet: The Restless Vision by Jackie Wullschläger.]

9 November 2023 - 'Julian Barnes' 6 Favorite Books That Deserve All Their Praise,' The Week.

18 August 2022 - 'At the National Gallery: Two Portraits,' London Review of Books, vol. 44, no. 16. [On Ingres and Picasso.]

27 July 2022 - "In 1971, I felt Larkin was speaking directly to me," New Statesman. [Julian Barnes on Philip Larkin - Larkin at 100.]

7 April 2022 - "Can a rabbit talk to a cat? Lartigue takes a leap." London Review of Books, vol. 44, no. 7. [Julian Barnes on Jacques Henri Lartigue.]

16 December 2021 - "Flaubert at Two Hundred." London Review of Books, vol. 43, no. 24.

22 April 2021 - "Mon cher Monsieur," London Review of Books, vol. 43, no. 8. [Julian Barnes on Letters to Camondo by Edmund de Wall and The House of Fragile Things: Jewish Art Collectors and the Fall of France by James McAuley].

19 November 2020 - "Summarising Oneself," London Review of Books, vol. 42, no. 22. [Julian Barnes on The Letters of Edgar Degas, edited by Theodore Reff. ISBN: 9780998817514]

2 April 2020 - "Robespierre's Chamber Pot," London Review of Books, vol. 42, no. 7. [Julian Barnes on Modern Art by J.K. Huysmans, translated by Brendan King.]

31 January 2020 - Julian Barnes bids farewell to the European Union. Published in Dutch, Italian, German, and French.

12 September 2019 - "The Necessary Talent," London Review of Books, vol. 41, no. 17: 8-10. [Julian Barnes on Berthe Morisot at the Musée d’Orsay (until 22 September).]

19 May 2018 - "Julian Barnes on William Trevor's Final Stories - A Master of the Short Form." The Guardian [Julian Barnes reviews Trevor's Last Stories].

26 April 2018 - 'Not in a Box,' London Review of Books, vol. 40, no. 8, pp. 8-9. [Barnes on Mary Cassatt, une impressioniste americaine a Paris Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, until 23 July]

4 January 2018 - "Humph, He, Ha", London Review of Books, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 11-13 [Julian Barnes on Degas; Degas: A Passion for Perfection (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge), Degas Danse Dessin: Hommage à Degas avec Paul Valéry (Musée d’Orsay), Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell (National Gallery, London), Degas and His Model by Alice Michel, translated by Jeff Nagy].

2 December 2017 - "'If only I'd been warned!' - Writers Choose Books to Give to Their Younger Selves", The Guardian. [Barnes and other authors discuss books they would give their younger selves.]

7 October 2017 - "Being Royal Is Bad for the Character", The Guardian. [Barnes discusses Princess Margaret in this review of Ma’am Darling by Craig Brown.]

23 September 2017 - "Barnes on Ryckmans: 'I trusted every word he wrote", The Australian. [Barnes discusses Pierre Ryckmans; A reprint of his introduction to Simon Leys: Navigator between Worlds, by Philippe Paquet, translated by Julie Rose, published by La Trobe University Press; The Australian may require a subscription to read online.]

8 July 2017 - "Best holiday reads 2017, picked by writers – part one", The Guardian. [Barnes selects Svetlana Alexievich’s first book, The Unwomanly Face of War (1985), Marie Darrieussecq’s Being Here: The Life of Paula Modersohn-Becker (Text) and Nathan Englander’s Dinner at the Centre of the Earth (Weidenfeld).]

20 April 2017 - "Diary," London Review of Books, vol. 39, no. 8. [Julian Barnes discusses England and Brexit.]

6 April 2017 - "A Marvelous Moment for French Writers and Artists," New York Review of Books. [Review of The Pen and the Brush: How Passion for Art Shaped Nineteenth-Century French Novels by Anka Muhlstein, translated from the French by Adriana Hunter.]

19 January 2017 - "At the Fondation Louis Vuitton", London Review of Books. Julian Barnes on the Shchukin Collection at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris.

12/02/16 - "I Was Wrong about EM Forster", The Guardian. In his teens, Barnes was put off by EM Forster's A Passage to India. Today, he finds him a writer of quality and purpose.

05/06/16 - "My Stupid Leicester City Love." The Guardian, 6 May 2016. [Julian Barnes - Leicester fan of more than six decades – on why Premier League triumph means we are all Foxes now].

03/18/16 - "Julian Barnes remembers his friend Anita Brookner: ‘There was no one remotely like her’." The Guardian, 18 March 2016.

03/17/16 - Russia and the Arts: Julian Barnes, Roxana Silbert and Suhayla El-Bushra. BBC Radio 3, 17 March 2016 [audio].

03/05/16 - Barnes, Julian. "My Mother Before I Knew Her." The Guardian, 5 March 2016.

Kathleen Scoltock, Mother of Julian Barnes

01/30/16 - Barnes, Julian. "My hero: Dmitri Shostakovich." The Guardian, 30 January 2016.

12/2015 - 'The Real Thing,' London Review of Books 37.24, 17 December 2015.
[Review of Splendeurs et misères: Images de la prostitution 1850-1910, Musée d’Orsay until 17 January 2016; Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Grand Palais until 11 January 2016, Metropolitan Museum of Art from 9 February to 15 May 2016.]

November/December 2015 - 'The Big Question: What's the Best Number?' Intelligent Life.

11/2015 - 'Even Worse Than We Thought,' New York Review of Books, 19 November 2015.
[Review of The Crime and the Silence: Confronting the Massacre of Jews in Wartime Jedwabne by Anna Bikont, translated from the Polish by Alissa Valles.]

11/2015 - 'Julian Barnes Remembers Philip French, His Friend for 40 years,' The Observer, 1 November 2015.
[Julian Barnes looks back over 40 years of friendship with a man who combined a love of terrible puns with his vast knowledge, generosity and sense of fun.]

Autumn 2015 - 'Remembering Alan,' Areté Magazine, Issue #47, Autumn 2015.
[Julian Barnes remembers his friend Alan Howard.]

05/15/2015 - The Mighty Fed - The Guardian
[On Federer and Me: A Story of Obsession by William Skidelsky]

10/24/2014 - Portrait of a Political Punk - The Guardian
[On Limonov by Emmanuel Carrère]

05/07/2014 - Georges Simenon Returns - Times Literary Supplement
[On Penguin's reissue of Georges Simenon's works]

04/2014 - Why the Exclamation Mark Is the Best - More Intelligent Life

01/03/2014 - Julian Barnes on the Late, Great Penelope Fitzgerald - The Guardian p.16
[On Penelope Fitzgerald's novel Innocence]

12/13/2013 - Stoner: the must-read novel of 2013 - The Guardian
[On the unlikely success of John Williams's novel Stoner]

12/05/2013 - Heart-Squasher - London Review of Books (35.23) p.3-8
[Review of Man with a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud by Martin Gayford and Breakfast with Lucian: A Portrait of the Artist by Geordie Greig]

Spring/Summer 2013 - I Remember - Areté Magazine: A Retrospective (40)

12/19/2012 - The secrets of Cézanne - Times Literary Supplement p.3-4
[Review of Cézanne: A Life by Alex Danchev]

08/24/2012 - A Tribute to Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford - The Guardian
[Through the Window as 'Ford's Anglican Saint']

Jan/Feb 2012 - Where Sibelius Fell Silent - Intelligent Life

12/16/2011 - Judging the European Book Prize for 2011 - The Guardian

07/01/2011 - A Candid View of Candide - The Guardian
[Barnes pays tribute to Voltaire's Candide]

06/30/2011 - Badger Claws - London Review of Books (33.13) p.23-24
[Rev. of Nature Stories by Jules Renard, translated by Douglas Parmée]

04/16/2011 - Edouard Manet: Symphony in Off-white - The Guardian

04/07/2011 - For Sorrow There Is No Remedy - The New York Review of Books (58.6)
[Through the Window as 'Regulating Sorrow', Review of A Widow's Story: A Memoir by Joyce Carol Oates]

03/26/2011 - A vineyard in Montmartre: just one of the hidden pleasures of Paris - The Guardian


12/26/2010 - 'Under the briskness, he was a softie' - The Observer
[A tribute to Anthony Howard, Julian's editor at The New Statesman]

11/18/2010 - Writer's Writer and Writer's Writer's Writer - London Review of Books (32.22) p.7-11
[Through the Window as 'Translating Madame Bovary']

11/13/2010 - Letters from the Man Who Wrote The Leopard - The Guardian
[On Letters from London and Europe by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa]

08/21/2010 - Ford Madox Ford's Passionate Affair with Provence - The Guardian
[Through the Window as 'Ford and Provence']

04/22/2010 - A City of Sand and Puddles - London Review of Books (32.8) p.9-11
[Review of Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb and The Invention of Paris: A History in Footsteps by Eric Hazan, translated by David Fernbach]

11/05/2009 - On We Sail - London Review of Books (31.21) p.25-28
[On Guy de Maupassant's Afloat (translated by Douglas Parméen) and Alien Hearts (translated by Richard Howard)]

10/17/2009 - Running Away - The Guardian p.20
[Through the Window as 'Remembering Updike, Remembering Rabbit' 2]

06/11/2009 - Flights - New York Review of Book
[Through the Window as Remembering Updike, Remembering Rabbit 1]

04/18/2009 - When in Rome - The Guardian p.20
[Through the Window as 'The "Unpoetical" Clough']

03/12/2009 - Such, Such Was Eric Blair - New York Review of Books (56.4)
[Through the Window as 'George Orwell and the Fucking Elephant']

10/18/2008 - Brits Abroad - The Guardian
[On Guy de Maupassant & Algernon Swinburne]

09/28/2008 - Authors on Museums: Julian Barnes Is Very Fond of an 'Unknown Man' - Intelligent Life, Autumn 2008
[In the first installment of "Authors on Museums", a new series in Intelligent Life magazine, Julian Barnes chooses a collection in Cefalu, Sicily, on the strength of one vase, two porcupines and one great painting]

07/26/2008 - How Did She Do It? - The Guardian p.2
[Through the Window as 'The Deceptiveness of Penelope Fitzgerald']

06/14/2008 - Friends for Faraway Places - The Guardian p.2

06/19/2008 - Vu de Grande-Bretagne: Surtout ne changes pas! - Le Nouvel Observateur p.14-15
[Barnes discusses the roles of England and France in Europe; Translated by Vanessa Guignery]

06/07/2008 - The saddest story - The Guardian p.2

03/12/2008 - Flaubert's Last Letters - Times Literary Supplement
[Review of Gustave Flaubert, CORRESPONDANCE V: janvier 1876 - mai 1880; Edited by Jean Bruneau and Yvan Leclerc]

11/28/2007 - Books of the Year - Times Literary Supplement

11/24/2007 - Christmas Books Past, Present and Future: Part One - The Guardian

11/03/2007 - Better with Their Clothes on - The Guardian
[On Swiss artist Félix Vallotton, Also published in Die Weltwoche (42) 18 October 2007 p.52-57]

10/04/2007 - Behind the Gas Lamp - London Review of Books (29.19) p.9-11
[Through the Window as 'The Profile of Félix Fénéon']

07/07/2006 - An Inspector Calls - The Guardian p.4
[Through the Window as 'The Man Who Saved Old France']

12/25/2006 - The Past Conditional - The New Yorker p.56+
[Barnes writes about family, death, and religion]

11/25/2006 - Blood and Nerves - The Guardian
[Barnes on Émile Zola's Thérèse Raquin]

09/30/2006 - The Rebuke - The Guardian
[Catching up with Emma -- after Madame Bovary]

07/08/2006 - Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Property Developers - The Guardian p.7

06/10/2006 - 'What a Stinking Game is Soccer' - The Guardian p.3
[Julian Barnes on The Rules of Association Football 1863: The First FA Rule Book, The Bodleian Press, £5.99; with an introduction by Melvyn Bragg]

02/03/2006 - After the Ball - Times Literary Supplement (5366) p.3-4

12/15/2005 - Always There - London Review of Books (27.24) p.3-6
[On George Braque]

11/05/2005 - Soul Brothers - The Guardian p.4
[Through the Window as 'France's Kipling']

10/08/2005 - The Road Not Taken - The Guardian p.7
[Julian Barnes writes about the Guardian book club interview and his ability to remember his own books]

07/02/2005 - Tales from the Confessional - The Guardian p.4
[Julian Barnes writes about Frank O'Connor]

03/05/2005 - When Flaubert Took Wing - The Guardian p.30
[Julian Barnes writes about the creation of Flaubert's Parrot]

11/30/2003 - Here's Johnny - The Observer p.28
[Julian Barnes on England's victory in the Rugby World Cup]

11/08/2003 - Lost for Words - The Guardian p.37
[Also published in Mortification: Writers' Stories of Their Public Shame, edited by Robin Robertson]

10/04/2003 - Flashes of Wisdom in an Age of Chaos - The Guardian p.34
[Through the Window as 'The Wisdom of Chamfort']

08/16/2003 - When Eriqui Hit Parati - The Guardian p.7

07/07/2003 - Hate and Hedonism - The New Yorker
[Houellebecq Website PDF, Through the Window as 'Michel Houellebecq and the Sin of Despair']

06/28/2003 - Worlds within Words - The Guardian p.37

06/14/2003 - Puritan Pies and Decadent Dinners - The Guardian p.36
[The Pedant in the Kitchen as 'The Moral of It All']

06/07/2003 - Bottom Drawer - The Guardian
[The Pedant in the Kitchen]

05/31/2003 - Love One - The Guardian p.36
[The Pedant in the Kitchen as 'Not a Dinner Party']

05/24/2003 - How Beetroot Got Itself Out of a Pickle - The Guardian p.36
[The Pedant in the Kitchen as 'In the Purple']

05/17/2003 - Keep It Simple - The Guardian p.36
[The Pedant in the Kitchen]

05/10/2003 - Now They Tell Me! - The Guardian p.37
[The Pedant in the Kitchen]

05/03/2003 - When Once Is Enough - The Guardian p.36
[The Pedant in the Kitchen as 'Once is Enough']

04/26/2003 - Are You Being Served? - The Guardian p.36
[The Pedant in the Kitchen as 'Service with a Scowl']

04/19/2003 - Take a Green Leaf from These Books - The Guardian p.36
[The Pedant in the Kitchen as 'Good Things']

04/21/2003 - Union Blues - The New Yorker (79.9) p.145

04/12/2003 - Picture Perfect - The Guardian p.36
[The Pedant in the Kitchen as 'The Tooth Fairy']

04/11/2003 - This War Was Not Worth a Child's Finger - The Guardian p.2-4

04/10/2003 - Holy Hysteria - New York Review of Books (50.6) p.32-34
[Review of The Anti-Semitic Moment: A Tour of France in 1898 by Pierre Birnbaum]

04/05/2003 - Mrs Beeton to the Rescue - The Guardian p.37
[The Pedant in the Kitchen as 'The Cactus and the Slipper']

03/29/2003 - The Seeds of Rebellion - The Guardian p.37
[The Pedant in the Kitchen as 'No, I Won't Do That']

03/22/2003 - Secrets of the 10-Minute Maestro - The Guardian p.37
[The Pedant in the Kitchen as 'The Ten-Minute Maestro']

03/15/2003 - Size Counts - The Guardian p.37
[The Pedant in the Kitchen as 'Take Two Medium Onions']

03/08/2003 - Recipe for Success - The Guardian p.37
[The Pedant in the Kitchen as 'By the Book']

03/01/2003 - The Virtues of Precision - The Guardian p.37
[The Pedant in the Kitchen as 'Warning: Pedant at Work']

01/11/2003 - Sentimental Journeys - The Guardian p.2

Spring/Summer 2002 - In the Land of Pain - Areté Magazine (8)
[In the Land of Pain]

05/11/2002 - The Art of Suffering - The Guardian p.1
[In the Land of Pain adapted Introduction]

05/03/2002 - French Farce - The Guardian p.2
[Barnes reports from Paris on Jean-Marie Le Pen's surprise success in the first round of France's presidential election]

04/08/2002 - Pronoun Overboard - The New Yorker p.32-33
[Barnes comments on pronouns and ships in a 'Talk of the Town' piece for the magazine]

03/30/2002 - Scene dans un jardin anglais: Mon Journal de la Semaine - Liberation
[Julian Barnes discusses various events from a week of his life]

02/25/202 - The Worst Reported War Since the Crimean - The Guardian
[Julian Barnes discusses the Falklands war twenty years later]

02/24/2002 - Life Support - The Observer
[Julian Barnes and chef Simon Hopkinson discuss their friendship and love of wine]

02/09/2002 - The Woman Who Liberated the Kitchen - The Independent
[Something to Declare as 'The Land Without Brussels Sprouts']

07/16/2001 - The Thin Red Line - The New Yorker p.83+

12/25/2000 - Influences: Single-Handed - The New Yorker p.114

08/21/2000 - The Hardest Test - New Yorker p.94, 96-100, 102-103
[Something to Declare as Tour de France 2000]

04/17/1999 - One Famous Writer brought him a piece and was told it might serve as cat litter - The Guardian
[This essay was also published under the title 'Bitter Lemon Days' as part of Another Round At The Pillars: Essays, Poems & Reflections on Ian Hamilton, to mark Hamilton's 60th birthday]

1999 - A London View - Granta (65) London: The Lives of the City

1999 - ¿Qué es la vida? Una maldita cosa detrás de la otra - (Traducción: Claudia Martínez), etcéter@: politica y cultura en línea

12/18/1998 - No One Suffers as Much - Times Literary Supplement (4994) p.3-5
[Something to Declare as 'Tail-Flying', Barnes reviews Gustave Flaubert's Correspondance. Volume Four: 1869-1875. Edited by Jean Bruneau. Paris: Gallimard, 1998]

11/29/1998 - A Love Affair with Color - New York Times Book Review p.6

10/22/1998 - The Wise Woman - New York Review of Books
[Through the Window as 'Lorrie Moore Takes Wing']

07/20/1998 - How Was It for You? - Time (International) (152.3)
[Barnes's take on the 1998 World Cup]

07/19/1998 - Shrink Wrapped - Sunday Times p.1-2
[Barnes's review of Anthony Clare's In the Psychiatrist's Chair III]

04/1998 - A Timeless Correspondence - Harper's 296(1775) p.29-31
[Barnes replies to a letter written by Flaubert to Turgenev. Originally published in the January 29th issue of Le Nouvel Observateur]

01/19-02/04/1998 - Cher Gustave. . . - Le Nouvel Observateur p.52-60
[Seven authors reply to letters written by Flaubert. The authors are: Phillippe Sollers, Julian Barnes, Noëlle Châtelet, Jacques Weber, Dominique Fernandez, Jacques Drillon, and Guy Scarpetta. The article is in French]

09/29/1997 - Kitty Zipper - The New Yorker p.78-82 [Review of Kitty Kelley's The Royals]

05/05/1997 - Dept. of Dreams: European Solutions to Travel - The New Yorker (73.10) p.90, 92-93, 96-97, 109

04/1997 - Out of Place - Architectural Digest (54.5) p.36,38

01/27/1997 - Paris in the Twentieth Century - The New York Review of Books p.4

01/09/1997 - O Unforgetting Elephant - The New York Review of Books (44.1) p.23-27
[Through the Window as 'Ford's The Good Soldier']

01/28/1996 - Grand Illusions - The New York Times Book Review p.9
[Review of John Updike's In the Beauty of the Lilies]

08/22/1994 - The Modernizer - The New Yorker (70.26) p.66-71
[Letters from London as 'Left, Right, Left, Right: The Arrival of Tony Blair']

06/06/1994 - Chunnel Vision - The New Yorker (70.16) p.38-45
[Letters from London as 'Froggy! Froggy! Froggy!']

05/26/1994 - Romancing Flaubert - The New York Review of Books (41) p.12-16
[Something to Declare as Not Drowning But Waving: The Case of Louise Colet, Review of Rage and Fire: A Life of Louise Colet, Pioneer Feminist, Literary Star, Flaubert's Muse by Francine du Plessix Gray]

02/21/1994 - Staying Alive - The New Yorker (70.1) p.98-105
[Letters from London as 'Five Years of the Fatwa']

11/15/1993 - The Maggie Years - The New Yorker (69.38) p.82-89
[Letters from London as 'Mrs. Thatcher Remembers']

09/20/1993 - The Deficit Millionaires - The New Yorker (69.30) p.74-78, 80-88, 90-93
[Letters from London]

06/10/1993 - Unlikely Friendship - The New York Review of Books (40.11) p.5-6, 8, 10, 12
[Something to Declare as 'Consolation v. Desolation', Review of Francis Steegmuller and Barbara Bray's Flaubert-Sand: The Correspondence]

04/12/1993 - Real Britannia - The New Yorker (69.8) p.36-42
[Letters from London as 'Britannia's New Bra Size']

12/28/1992 & 01/04/1993 - Over the Limit - The New Yorker (68.45/46) p.94-100, 105
[Letters from London as 'The Chancellor of the Exchequer Buys Some Claret']

07/20/1992 - Letter from London - The New Yorker (68.22) p.69-73
[Letters from London as 'Traffic Jam at Buckingham Palace']

05/04/1992 - Letter from London - The New Yorker (68.11) p.78-84, 86-92
[Letters from London as 'Vote Glenda!']

01/06/1992 - Letter from London - The New Yorker (67.46) p.69-74
[Letters from London as 'John Major Makes a Joke']

09/30/1991 - Letter from London - The New Yorker (67.32) p.74, 76-81
[Letters from London as 'Year of the Maze']

01/07/1991 - Letter from London - The New Yorker (66.47) p.57-69
[Letters from London as 'Mrs. Thatcher Discovers It's a Funny Old World']

06/11/1990 - Letter from London - The New Yorker (66.17) p.89-99
[Letters from London as 'Fake!']

03/05/1990 - Letter from London - The New Yorker (66.3) p.91-100
[Letters from London as 'MPTV']

10/04/1987 - Life in the Slow Lane - The New York Times Book Review (92) p.13-14
[Review of The Day of Judgement]

12/21/1986 - Once in Love with Emma - The New York Times Book Review (91) p.10
[Something to Declare as 'Flaubert's Death-Masks', Review of Llosa Mario Vargas's The Perpetual Orgy: Flaubert and Madame Bovary]