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Metroland: BARNES, Julian


BARNES, Julian

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ISBN 10: 0224017624 / ISBN 13: 9780224017626
Published by Jonathan Cape, London, 1980
Condition: As New Hardcover
From Fine Editions Ltd (New York, NY, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

First Impression ("First published 1980") of Barnes's first novel under his own name. 8vo: 176pp. Publisher's steel-grey cloth, spine stamped in silver, grey end papers; black typographic dust jacket printed in metallic silver, priced-clipped. Bookplate of Otis Skinner Blodget laid in. Virtually pristine, a Very Fine copy. In 1980, after a prolonged apprenticeship (on the staff of the Oxford English Dictionary, reviewing books for the Times Literary Supplement, and as literary editor of the New Statesman), Barnes published this short novel, a charming Bildungsroman centered on a young man growing up in London's northern suburbs (in 1956, Barnes's family moved from Leicester to Northwood, a suburb served by London Underground's Metropolitan line and thus the "Metroland" of his title), obsessed with France (where Barnes spent a year as an English teacher in Rennes), and his coming to terms with life. Metroland was awarded a Somerset Maugham award, given to an outstanding first novel. Note: With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition, with dust jackets carefully preserved in archival, removable polypropylene sleeves. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed. Bookseller Inventory # BB1109

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Metroland

Publisher: Jonathan Cape, London

Publication Date: 1980

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:As New

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Edition: First Edition.

About this title


Traces the life of Julian Barnes from a school child to his life in Paris where he met his first love.


Sixteen-year-old suburbanite Chris Lloyd and his mate Toni spend their free time wishing they were French, making up stories about strangers, and pretending to be flâneurs. When they grow up they'd like to be "artists-in-residence at a nudist colony." If youthful voyeurism figures heavily in their everyday lives, so, too, do the pleasures of analogy, metaphor, and deliberate misprision. Sauntering into one store that dares to call itself MAN SHOP, Toni demands: "One man and two small boys, please."

Julian Barnes could probably fill several books with these boys' clever misadventures, but in his first novel he attempts something more daring--the curve from youthful scorn to adult contentment. In 1968, when Chris goes off to Paris, he misses the May événements but manages, more importantly, to fall in love and learn the pleasures of openness: "The key to Annick's candour was that there was no key. It was like the atom bomb: the secret is that there is no secret." The final section finds Chris back in suburbia, married, with children and a mortgage, and slowly accepting the surprise that happiness isn't boring. "It's certainly ironic to be back in Metroland. As a boy, what would I have called it: le syphilis de l'âme, or something like that, I dare say. But isn't part of growing up being able to ride irony without being thrown?" Far from renouncing the joys of language, this novel wittily celebrates honest communication. --Kerry Fried

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