Caroline Moore

A pitiful wreck

Julian Barnes’s latest novel, The Noise of Time, is a brilliant portrait of an artist trying not to sign away his soul

When I look at the black-and-white photograph of Julian Barnes on the flap of his latest book, the voice of Kenneth Clark floats up from memories of the black-and-white television of my childhood: ‘He is smiling — the smile of reason.’ Supremely ‘civilised’, thin-lipped, faintly superior, temperamentally given to aphorism, it is no surprise to discover that Julian Barnes is a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

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