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Discuss the significance of the Title of ‘A History of The World in 10 ½ Chapters’

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Ali Wedderburn 5G Coursework Essay on 'A History of The World in 10 1/2 Chapters' No.9: ?????????????????????????????????????????? The title A History of The World in 10 1/2 Chapters immediately says to the reader that the book is not going to be a conventional, nor a serious look at world history. 'World' also mocks Sir Walter Raleigh's work: The History of The World (which also begins with the flood) as Raleigh's book, other than Noah, mentions the history of no other country than England. Barnes's work has, compared to Raleigh, an abundance of countries mentioned. Barnes's title, with the word A, immediately points out that there is no definitive history of the world, only various people's opinions. With the 1/2 he tells us that even if there was a definitive history, the notion that it could be fitted into one book or even written by the hands of Man is ridiculous. (In Parenthesis, the 1/2 chapter, he tells us: " History isn't what happened. History is just what Historians tell us.") Barnes's book is merely an opinion, his version of history, and a very unconventional one at that. ...read more.


Then comes chapter 8 1/2, Parenthesis, an essay on love. Chapter 9 is about an astronaut's pilgrimage, again to Mount Ararat, in the 1970's, in search for the Ark, and then we get the last chapter. Obviously this differs greatly from the chronological order almost all history books take. Instead the reader is asked to compare, look and search for connections throughout the chapters, some blatant (woodworm, the Ark/Ararat), some subtle (clean/unclean) and even look for contrast (pain, suffering/paradise). The final chapter, The Dream, about heaven, is a veritable goldmine of connections so far as what the narrator does is. He goes on several cruises (The Visitors, Three Simple Stories), does canoeing (Upstream!) and mountaineering (The Mountain, Project Ararat), gets into all sorts of danger and escapes (The Survivor, Shipwreck, Three Simple Stories), explores the jungle (Upstream!), watches a court case (The Wars of Religion), tries being a painter (Shipwreck), falls in love (Parenthesis), pretends he is the last person on earth (The Dream) and the first (The Stowaway), eats more creatures than had ever sailed on Noah's ark (The Stowaway), becomes a wine connoisseur (The Mountain), meets Noah (The Stowaway, The Mountain, Project Ararat), meets Hitler (Three Simple Stories) ...read more.


Ordered off, for a second, this time farcical rather than tragic time, he avoids being on the boat when it sinks. This is a view echoed with the scenes in The Mountain and Project Ararat, the first where Amanda Fergusson dies on the mountain, and the second where Spike Tiggler finds her bones and believes he has found the skeleton of Noah, another connection with chapter 1. The Stowaway, The Mountain and Project Ararat are all primarily about Noah, and they are, this time in chronological order. Throughout the novel Barnes mocks, often using irony, history and history books. This is most clearly illustrated by the tourists on the cruise in The Visitors, interested in Franklin's lectures on Knossos and Minoan civilisation, becoming part of History themselves as the terrorists strike. Barnes challenges the reader's idea of a history book and illustrates that history is not objective as historians would like us to believe but is as subjective as the mark this essay gets, and never anything more. He says that history IS what he makes it to be, a fabulation based on fact, and it's all about how loosely based on fact the story is. ...read more.

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