Interactive Oral on History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters

Interactive Oral on History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters

How has your understanding of culture and context of the work developed though the interactive oral? Our interactive oral was about Julian Barnes’ ‘History of the world in 10 and a half chapters’. Although I did not contribute as much as I should have, others in my class came up with some brilliant ideas. Much of the discussion revolved around the period of history that Julian Barnes’ wrote this book in and how it affected the way he said things, the language and techniques he used and the post-modernism ‘freedom’ he had to explore.

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Some people noticed links between the issues in the work and our own culture/ experiences, for instance, the terrorist attack in chapter 2 and the terrorist attacks that go on in modern times. I totally agreed when someone said ‘It’s because history repeats itself’, and I think that is one of the main themes in the novel. The point I made to the group is what I had noticed, and that was the way religion, faith and belief had influenced the novel just like the impact on the world they have had in real life.

I also mentioned that I thought one of the themes was about ‘perspective’ and how views can change depending on faiths and experiences. Barnes used different points of view throughout the work to show this. The last chapter ‘The Dream’ is all about what people ‘perceive’ to be as ‘heaven’, and as perception changes the actual heaven in the novel changes to accommodate this. I suppose this is true in real life terms, some people see what they want to see or might ‘perceive’ something different to someone else in the same way that we don’t know if ‘truth’ is real, it’s all subjective.

Some of the discussion was about the different literary techniques Barnes used, before this, I didn’t realise there were so many. He used techniques such as metanarrative, epistolary, anachronisms, mimesis, vignettes, lots of symbolism, and also a lot of intertextual references (which mostly refer to the bible). In the next interactive oral I plan to contribute more ideas to the group, it should help me better my understanding of the novel/work.


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