Vanessa Guignery's Julian Barnes from the Margins: Exploring the Writer's Archives achieves several successful ends. For readers who are interested in Julian Barnes's books, this unparalleled look at how they evolved into their published form provides a wealth of information, information that has been selected, contextualized, and analyzed for maximum lucidity and utility. Barnes readers and admirers will be richly rewarded by what they (we) can find out in this book. A secondary outcome is a demonstration of what genetic criticism can be and do at its best. There is a mass of data here (distilled from a much greater mass of data in the archives): but data on their own are inert. The author shows how the best genetic criticism wields and converts facts into subtle critical insights.

The conditions for such an enterprise are propitious. Barnes is a painstaking novelist and one who, fortunately, saves almost everything. He...

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