Place and Displacement: Julian Barnes and the Haunted Self

  • Julian Wolfreys


The novels of Julian Barnes are involved in many diverse meditations and reflections on what it might mean to be human through a focus on memory work. In the text of Barnes, memory as ‘species of techné’ reveals the authenticity of the self and the self’s hauntedness by bringing memory to bear against the uncertainties and recollected truths of the narrating subject. Our ghosts, Barnes implies, know more about us than we do, and remind us of our faultiness frequently. In this is the realization of loss; for our ghosts are often all too honest revenant souvenirs of all we no longer are, and no longer have. In this chapter then, I seek to explore the manner in which memory functions often as an opening gambit, to destabilize the certainties of narration and install for the reader the unease that takes place in the places memory might be said to deconstruct. In order to explore this, and so move towards a reading of memory and loss in Barnes, I propose to consider in particular certain opening pages as the places where the art of memory is situated.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julian Wolfreys
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PortsmouthBembridgeUK

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