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Arthur and George (Vintage International)


Arthur and George (Vintage International) Cover



Reading Group Guide

The introduction, discussion questions, suggested reading list, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your groups conversation about Arthur & George, Julian Barness moving account of the intersection of the lives of Arthur Conan Doyle, world-famous writer of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and George Edalji, a Birmingham solicitor imprisoned for dreadfully gruesome crimes.

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Roger S Oldfield, January 24, 2012 (view all comments by Roger S Oldfield)
It's a very fine novel. As an expert on the Edalji family, though, I spent the whole time thinking about the extent to which it reflects the historical record. There are points at which it departs deliberately from actual events, and there are points at which there are (I think) unwitting distortions and mistakes. For a critique of the book in these terms see my 'Outrage: The Edalji Five and the Shadow of Sherlock Holmes', Vanguard Press. The book is the first to set the case of George Edalji in the wider context of the experiences of the Edalji family as a whole, a subject which Julian Barnes did not research in detail. The website is
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Kelly Stark, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by Kelly Stark)
The only thing East Indian about George is his dark skin; otherwise, he is the most English of the English: stolid, plodding, sure of being a citizen of the finest country on earth, proud to be a member of England's judiciary. Arthur is also English, of the cricket, social, well-married type, and just as certain there is justice in England. He's also the author of the most famous detective novels in English history and makes it a point of honor to exonerate George of the barbaric crimes he's been convicted of. One of these men never lies, and the other lies all the time, but they are both men of honor and good character. The pas de deux of these men's lives is one very fine novel.
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Product Details

Barnes, Julian
Vintage Books USA
Historical - General
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Vintage International
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.00x5.22x.97 in. .77 lbs.

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Arthur and George (Vintage International) New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$16.00 In Stock
Product details 445 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9781400097036 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Arthur is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, physician, sportsman, gentleman par excellence and the inventor of Sherlock Holmes; George is George Edalji, also a real, if less well-known person, whose path crossed not quite fatefully with the famous author's. Edalji was the son of a Parsi father (who was a Shropshire vicar), and a Scots mother. In 1903, George, a solicitor, was accused of writing obscene, threatening letters to his own family and of mutilating cattle in his farm community. He was convicted of criminal behavior in a blatant miscarriage of justice based on racial prejudice. Eventually, Sir Arthur ('Irish by ancestry, Scottish by birth') heard about George's case and began to advocate on his behalf. In this combination psychological novel, detective story and literary thriller, Barnes elegantly dissects early 20th-century English society as he spins this true-life story with subtle and restrained irony. Every line delivered by the many characters?the two principals, their school chums (Barnes sketches their early lives), their families and many incidentals?rings with import. His dramatization of George's trial, in particular, grinds with telling minutiae, and his portrait of Arthur is remarkably rich, even when tackling Doyle's spiritualist side. Shortlisted for the Booker, this novel about love, guilt, identity and honor is a triumph of storytelling, taking the form Barnes perfected in Flaubert's Parrot (1985) and stretching it yet again." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[A] finely evocative historical novel as well as a morally and psychologically astute glimpse into the worlds of two men."
"Review" by , "[F]ascinating....What appears to have been a 'footnote in legal history' is the source for a stunning literary achievement."
"Review" by , "Barnes's writing is, as usual, masterly....Facts are interpreted, then reinterpreted; the bigoted speak convincingly; nothing turns out quite as expected; and even the book's coda delivers a final shock."
"Review" by , "[D]eeply satisfying....The precision of the style suits the decorum of the period and serves to underline the warm, impulsive generosity of Doyle's support, which saved an innocent man from ruin. A triumph."
"Review" by , "The results are mostly admirable, as Barnes has created brilliantly intimate portraits....Arthur and George will greatly please those who want a Dickensian sprawl of a novel with one or two heroes and a sometimes thrilling story line."
"Review" by , "A beautifully modulated work; highly recommended."
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