Julian Barnes: The FULL INTERVIEW – BBC Newsnight



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Booker prize-winning novelist Julian Barnes speaks to Kirsty Wark about his new book based on the life of Shostakovich, The Noise of Time. This is an extended version – just for YouTube – of the interview which aired on 28 January. It covers art and power, heroism and cowardice, free speech and no-platforming, Russia under Putin, and more.
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12 Responses

  1. TetinKlimente says:

    An extraordinary book.

  2. frog skin says:

    I do not think that the dispatch of statues of oppression and what they mean to oppressed can be so easily conflated with focusing on improving the now, as Mr Barnes suggests.

  3. kelman727 says:

    Never cared for Barnes. Too snooty, too cerebral.

  4. grandepittore says:

    Shostakovich died in 1975. 'Testimony' was published in 1979, not 1990.

  5. Ben Likes Books says:

    Thanks for posting, just started reading the book. Brilliant interview

  6. Ian MacCandless says:

    I'm sorry, but this seems to be an assortment of effete tosh. Perversely, an interviewee pandering to the opinions mooted by the interviewer ("trans" etc.?). Julian Barnes, "as a child of the Cold War", cannot have had the remotest idea of life in Stalin's Soviet Union, much less memories of the repression imposed and suffered there – if only because he didn't live there and was indeed only a child at the time. However, the thing that really gets me, having read his "novel", is how he can dare to invent what are supposed to be the most intimate thoughts and attitudes of a very specifically defined historical person, within the lifetime of his direct descendants, as a spurious insight into the state of a society undergoing the most troubled of social experiments. What, in fact, is the distinction between biography and fiction? Is it even legitimate to choose verifiable events from the life of any person and use them as one sees fit, and to leave others out, because "one" is a "novelist"? I have severe doubts about this, and Barnes does not help to dissipate them in this interview. When the case in point centres on the life of one of the most important composers of the 20th century, and no mention whatsoever is made of the music itself of the effect it had on Shostakovich's contemporaries (both in the USSR and outside it), the ultimate impression I have is that this "novelist" has made dishonest use of his rather poorly researched material. Very disappointing.

  7. Lula Mae says:

    My God. CAN a western person actually live A DAY without taking Russia and Mr. Putin to pieces? As a Russian, I'm offended and humiliated. Otherwise, would have a been a great interview!

  8. Shamim Ehsanul Haque says:

    What a beautiful mind he has! Lovely interview!

  9. Dhruv Sehgal says:

    Great stuff! Thank you.

  10. Janet Grynberg says:

    Such a pleasure to be able to see and hear this amazing man speaking.

  11. Alpha says:

    What an authority! I enjoy his books, his sense of humour, and my goodness, his voice is divine 🙂

  12. John J S says:

    Thanks for posting. Wonderful interview; great book too.

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