Bachelor Thesis, 2013
36 Pages, Grade: 2,7
The English writer Julian Barnes has developed an experimental style during his writing career, which spans twenty-two novels as well as numerous essays and short stories. His novel Flaubert's Parrot, which was his third published book in 1984, marked an important milestone in his career and shaped his image as an outstandingly talented writer who is fearless of unconventional writing. In the year 2005 Julian Barnes wrote an article in honor of the twentieth anniversary of the book called "When Flaubert took wing" for the Guardian. In that article he described how the idea for the novel came to his mind when he experienced finding two different parrots in Flaubert's hometown, which both claimed to be the original parrot Flaubert worked with. The result was the Booker Prize short-listed novel Flaubert's Parrot. In the novel he merges a postmodern style within a biographical story that is profoundly thought provoking. Neil Brooks described the novel in his comparison to The Good Soldier as "part novel and part criticism of both modern and postmodern theories of textuality". Meanwhile, Barnes presents his impressively extensive research on Gustave Flaubert and incorporates his knowledge into the text in a very entertaining way. Due to its experimental style and unconventional structure the book caused a controversial debate whether or not it is still accurate to call it a 'novel'. The extensive sections that do not follow a coherent storyline and the excursions on literary critical topics complicated the book's classification and categorization into a specific genre. However, Barnes himself claimed that he considers his work as nothing else than a novel. Therefore and due to the fact that different publishers decided to define it as novel as well, this thesis will refer to Flaubert's Parrot as novel, too. After all, literary studies deal with Flaubert's Parrot as a postmodern novel and it has often been categorized within the genre of fictional metabiography. Scholars focused often on the two stories the book offers. Namely, the one story is the search for Flaubert's parrot and the other one is about the main character's past. Both stories are connected through intertextual references that are an interesting issue for literary critics. In particular, the intertextual devices in the novel were often subject for literary studies that aimed to interpret its deeper meaning.
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