Levels of Life July 17 2014, 0 Comments
I need to strike while the iron is hot with this one.
Don't be fooled by the apparent anecdotal aloofness of the first two sections of this recollection of grief. They deal with balloons and height and stories of Englishmen and Frenchmen, famous and less famous. They deal with Sarah Bernhardt and Nadar and officers and life lived "on the level" (I will let you discover exactly what that means). The third section's more personal narrative could not have been written without them. Their context is what underlines every single word that follows.
Here, even in mourning, Julian Barnes is Julian Barnes. A writer obsessed with leitmotifs, patterns, stories as they are told to us and learned in books, historical anecdotes as they serve to illuminate our own lives, animating them like shadow-theatre. A writer obsessed with metaphors. A writer obsessed with connecting and interweaving past events with our trembling, seeking present.
Julian Barnes writes about love and life and grief through the most delicate exploration of the "levels of life", from intoxicating heights to unbearable lows, with the radical intelligence and beating heart that inhabit all his books.
This is simply one of the most beautiful declarations of love that I have ever read.