This is a book I’ll never forget because it’s so bad, so ridiculous, so poorly written that it’s hard to believe someone could come up with 200 pages of such irredeemable drivel.
Barnes’ Elizabeth Finch is a thesis novel. This means it was written to make an ideological statement. Nobody writes thesis novels anymore because readers aren’t very interested in being clobbered over the head with political slogans. Unless you are brilliant at creating great characters or fascinating plot twists – and Barnes is extraordinarily inept at both – don’t attempt a thesis novel.
The ideological argument that Elizabeth Finch tries to deliver is that Christianity is the worst thing that happened to the world. It sucked all joy and wonder from people’s lives. If it hadn’t spread, Europe wouldn’t be a horrid, miserable place of evil ‘whiteness’ that it is today but would, instead, be a tolerant, multicultural, joyful paradise of multiracial, polygamous sustainability.
This idea is being delivered by means of the title character, Elizabeth Finch, a brilliant professor who dazzles students with her extraordinary intellect. The problem with writing about a character who dazzles with intellect is that you need to have some of your own. Barnes has none, so the witticisms of the brilliant professor sound like a collection of particularly pompous Hallmark cards.
There is no plot and, aside from the professor and one of her students, there are no characters. All that happens is that Elizabeth Finch talks (or writes) about her dislike of monogamy, marriage, children, Christianity, patriotism, and ‘whiteness’. She has no family or personal life of her own, and the most important thing that happens to her is that she gets cancelled by rabid right-wingers who control the press (I know, right?) for expressing all of these brilliant Hallmark views.
Oh, and Elizabeth Finch pretends to be Jewish. I have no idea why. She despises Judaism almost as much as she does Christianity, so it’s a strange thing to fake. This attempt at a plot twist is never explained. Nothing is explained. It’s all about stupid woke people considering themselves smart woke people.
After the extraordinary enjoyment of Elizabeth Taylor’s novels, I’m plunged straight into this dreck.
9 thoughts on “Book Notes: Julian Barnes’ Elizabeth Finch”
You are at your best when doing hatchet jobs.
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I’m truly powerless to transmit how abysmally horrid this book is.
Clearly you need to spend more time on Furrowed Middlebrow instead of wasting your time on present-day authors. 😉
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Totally. I have no idea how I stepped into this unpleasantness.
Thank you for the blog recommendation. It’s a treasure. So many authors I never heard about! I’m loving it.
“despises Judaism almost as much as she does Christianity”
Out of curiosity…. are Buddhism, Hinduism or Islam mentioned?
They are, in passing, as victims of Christianity. The only real hero in the book is paganism. Who knows why? It’s all quite senseless.
I think it was Kingsley Amis who said that the problem with science-fiction novels about mega intelligent aliens is that they can never be more intelligent than the author of the book…
Speaking of bad plots …
This comes as a direct quote from a site known as “The Daily Financial Trends”, and so you should be able to find the original article if it’s indexed by search engines. (Any link I post here gets eaten by your broken NerdPress(tm) software.)
The Daily Financial Trends: Elon Musk Fires Some Workers Who Signed His Pledge
“With less than half the company remaining, Musk then sent all employees a written ultimatum, demanding they sign a google document pledging they would work long hours at high intensity, and be ‘extremely hardcore,’ to create a new Twitter 2.0, or agree to leave the company with severance.”
“Reports based on data from a source at the company indicate about 1,000 to 1,200 more employees chose to leave, leaving behind roughly 2,000 employees.”
“Now reports are coming out that some sales employees who opted to stay and sign the document, and agree to Musk’s new vision of Twitter, have reportedly been let go anyway, according to the Wall Street Journal.”
“The employees were informed in emails that their jobs had been deemed no longer necessary. Further details on exactly what departments or roles were affected was unavailable.”
But it gets better.
“Twitter no longer comments publicly to media due to the entirely of their communications staff having been laid off.”
Taking loyalty oaths is evil, taking them for someone who probably regards you as being in the way is doubly so.
VOAT HARDRRR (with your feet) 🙂
Just googled a bit out of curiosity. His 25th novel?!? You’d think he’d be better at it by now. Barnes also apparently won the Booker Prize for something, which just goes to show how worthless these awards are.