Nothing to Be Frightened of

Nothing to Be Frightened of

Book - 2008
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"I don't believe in God, but I miss him." So begins Julian Barnes's brilliant new book that is, among many things, a family memoir, an exchange with his brother (a philosopher), a meditation on mortality and the fear of death, a celebration of art, an argument with and about God, and a homage to the writer Jules Renard. Barnes also draws poignant portraits of the last days of his parents, recalled with great detail, affection and exasperation. Other examples he takes up include writers, "most of them dead and quite a few of them French," as well as some composers, for good measure.

The grace with which Barnes weaves together all of these threads makes the experience of reading the book nothing less than exhilarating. Although he cautions us that "this is not my autobiography," the book nonetheless reveals much about Barnes the man and the novelist: how he thinks and how he writes and how he lives. At once deadly serious and dazzlingly playful, Nothing to Be Frightened Of is a wise, funny and constantly surprising tour of the human condition.
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, c2008.
ISBN: 9780307356987
Characteristics: 250 p. ;,23 cm.


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Aug 16, 2018

"For Montaigne, the death of youth, which often takes place unnoticed, is the harder death; what we habitually refer to as 'death' is no more than the death of old age ... The leap from the attenuated survival of senescence into non-existence is much easier than the sly transition from heedless youth to crabbed and regretful age." (p. 41-2)

Aug 16, 2018

"We may allow Death, like God, to be [occasionally ironic] ... The essential difference remains: God might be dead, but Death is well alive. ... 'Death is sweet; it delivers us from the fear of death.' Is this not a comfort?" (p. 205, 209)

Jan 20, 2009

I don’t believe in God, but I miss Him. That's what I say when the question is put. I asked my brother, who has taught philosophy at Oxford, Geneva and the Sorbonne, what he thought of such a statement, without revealing it was my own. He replied with a single word: 'Soppy.'


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Aug 16, 2018

This book-length personal essay on dying, death and nothingness would have benefited from having an index so that readers could refer back to earlier references to philosophers, theologians, and the author's relatives. Since this essay was published in 2008 the emergence of medically-assisted-death in Europe and elsewhere has changed attitudes on dying. This essay would be valuable reading for gerontologists (especially pages 101-105).

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