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Gabriel Josipovicis ‚The Cemetery in Barnes‘

Versuch einer Würdigung

Günther Jarfe

Pages 203 - 220

This paper has the intention of facilitating the understanding of Gabriel Josipovici’s novel ‚The Cemetery in Barnes‘, in particular by elucidating the narrative situation. The book features a narrator, but not one who tells us what is happening. Instead he acts as the protagonist’s mouthpiece. The novel deals with a translator who moved from Putney to Paris after the death of his wife and earns his living by translating mediocre French novels into English. From what we read (taken at face value), we learn that the translator has since bought a farmhouse in Wales where he lives with his second wife and recounts to audiences of friends and visitors his life in Putney and Paris. This, however, turns out to be wishful thinking. He still lives in Paris and, in the afternoons, goes for long strolls which he uses extensively for imagining „alternative lives“. Most of all he daydreams of owning a farmhouse in Wales. The problem of understanding arises because the story is told as if the protagonist’s dream of living in Wales had already come true. Understanding is further impeded not only because there are three different storylines, but also because they are constantly interrupted, mixed up, repeated with variations, and modified. In the end it looks as if the protagonist despairs of improving his situation and is prepared to admit (if deeply frustratedly) that his hope of a future escape to Wales will remain utopian.


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