Arthur & George

Arthur & George

Book - 2006
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From one of England's most esteemed novelists, an utter astonishment that captures an era through one life celebrated internationally and another entirely forgotten. In the vast expanse of late-Victorian Britain, two boys come to life: George, the son of a Midlands vicar, and Arthur, in shabby genteel Edinburgh, both of them feeling at once near to and impossibly distant from the beating heart of Empire. One falls prey to a series of pranks en route to a legal vocation, while the other studies medicine before discovering a different calling entirely, and it is years before their destinies are entwined in a mesmerizing alliance. We follow each through outrageous accusation and unrivaled success, through faith and perseverance and dogged self-recrimination, whether in the dock awaiting complete disgrace or at the height of fame while desperately in love with a woman not his wife, and gradually realize that George is half-Indian and that Arthur becomes the creator of the world's most famous detective. Ranging from London clubs to teeming prisons, from a lost century to the modern age, this novel is a panoramic revelation of things we thought we knew or else had no clue of, as well as a gripping exploration of what goals drive us toward whatever lies in wait - an experience resounding with issues, no less relevant today, of crime and spirituality; of identity and nationality; of what we think, what we believe and what we can prove. Intriguing, relentless and, most of all, moving, Arthur and George richly extends the reach and achievement of a novelist described by the Philadelphia Inquirer as "a dazzling mind in mercurial flight."
Publisher: New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 2006.
Edition: 1st American ed.
ISBN: 9780307263100
030726310X
Call Number: BARNES
Characteristics: p. ; cm.
Subjects: Doyle, Arthur Conan, 1859-1930 -- Fiction.
Midlands (England) -- Fiction.
Judicial error -- Fiction.
Children of clergy -- Fiction.
Racially mixed people -- Fiction.
Horses -- Crimes against -- Fiction.
Alternative Title: Arthur and George

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stewaroby Nov 21, 2017

Julian Barnes is a great writer, but somehow I didn't read this when it first came out. I took it home and it sat beside my bed. Surely somehow if it sat there for long enough I would have read it without actually having to read it. If it hadn't been for Book Club and my rash resolution to complete every book assigned this year (not exactly met but better than last year) I would have missed a real treat. Engrossing and beautifully done, Barnes has accomplished a difficult feat here; detailed research that enriches the story without being shouty.

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wyenotgo
May 09, 2016

Not quite four stars, largely because of its uneven pace and anti-climactic ending. The book takes a very long time to reveal how the lives of Arthur and George finally intersect. My point being that much of the book is taken up with matters such as Arthur's marital issues and his devotion to spiritism, both of which are essentially irrelevant. I concede that George's unusual upbringing and odd personality do have a bearing on what happens to him and therefore merit the amount of space devoted to those details.
What really made this a worthwhile read is its exploration of the monumental stupidity of the police, combined with the determined racism of those in control of the English "justice" system of the day. To cap it off, the steadfast refusal of the authorities to admit that anyone had done anything wrong or even to offer an apology, let alone compensation to the victim. A cautionary tale, so be sure. A positive outcome was that the case provided impetus toward the establishment of a court of appeal.
Barnes' somewhat old-fashioned style of writing may not appeal to many readers of our day, but it's appropriate to a story set at the height of the Victorian era; it's not a quick read, demands some patience but it held my attention in spite of its shortcomings.

multcolib_susannel Oct 09, 2015

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is drawn into a case involving murdered animals, threatening letters and relentless bullying. Based on a real crime.

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LazyNeko
Jan 28, 2012

The story about the incredible injustice done to George is gripping, but it doesn't mesh all that well against the biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Still, it's fun to read a portrayal of Sherlock Holmes's creator in action and on a real case.

jgoody Dec 29, 2011

"A boy sees". It's one of the first lines you read in this book. Immediately you become enthralled into the story of Arthur and George. Julian Barnes wrote this novel in a most eloquent and sophisticated manner. His story took me to a comfortable England. Arthur is always the heroine yet always seeks more. Edalji is so on the straight and narrow that he never sees the way that people can be so malicious. I absolutely loved this book! It was a delight to know that much of the story was based on the real life events of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and George Edalji...very much a treat! Great read!

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Nikchick
Jun 27, 2011

A compelling novelization of a real world mystery, Barnes does a great job bringing these historical figures to life.

h
Hadley
Nov 19, 2008

A fascinating story, based on historical events, and probably Barnes' most accessible book.

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LazyNeko
Jan 28, 2012

Life. How easily everyone, including himself, said the word. Life must go on, everyone routinely agreed. And yet how few asked what it was, and why it was, and if it was the only life or the mere amphitheatre to something quite different. Arthur was frequently baffled by the complacency with which people went on with... with what they insouciantly called their lives, as if both the word and the thing made perfect sense to them.

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