Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Just wanted to butt in to say that am in the middle of Arthur & George. The novel discusses the Great Wyrley Outrages (that involved mutilations of farm animals), which resulted in the conviction of half-Indian George Edalji who was innocent of the crimes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took personal interst in his case and ensured the clearing of Edalji's name.

Two things: Julian Barnes, the author, has a great sense of dialogue and Arthur's voice is saturated with Sherlock Holmes's, Doyle's creation. The chemistry between Doyle and Wood, his assistant is reminiscent of Holmes and Dr. Watson's. This makes the investigative bits a great pleasure to devour.

What I find appealing about such dialogue is that it is tempered despite being thick with content and a great mind working behind it. It is almost technical in its precision, so damned clinical, yet suffused with just the right bits of emotion and empathy. Restraint – that's the word – restraint is what it evokes, which is impressive considering intellect is so often drowned out in the boastful depths of bombast.

Also, the novel fictionalizes Arthur's relationship with Jean Leckie and its effect on his marital life with Touie. Did you know that Touie knew of Arthur's liasions and had indicated so to her daughter on her death bed? Tragic, since Arthur tried all those ten years that she was unwell, to protect her of this knowledge.

Read an interview that Barnes gave to the Telegraph about the book.

PS: On the night that the Booker is to be announced, it's instructive to note that Arthur & George was shortlisted for the 2005 Booker but lost out to The Sea.

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