Coffee with Aristotle by Jonathan Barnes (Duncan Baird, 2008; Foreword)

Notes on this edition: Barnes, Jonathan. Coffee with Aristotle. London: Duncan Baird, 2008. 144 p. 15 cm. ISBN: 9781844836109; Foreword by Julian Barnes  (pp. 6-9).

The Coffee with … series features fictional conversations between noted scholars and the subjects of their studies — authors, philosophers, artists, etc. Aristotle scholar Jonathan Barnes authored this edition, and his brother Julian Barnes wrote the introduction. At the end of the introduction, the publisher has included a facsimile signature of the author, as pictured.

Dictionary of Received Ideas (Syrens, 1994; Preface)

Notes on this edition: Flaubert, Gustave. The Dictionary of Received Ideas. London: Syrens, 1994. Translated by Geoffrey Wall. Preface by Julian Barnes (pp. v-xi).

Syrens is a division of Penguin books, and they released this small, thin paperback edition of Flaubert’s The Dictionary of Received Ideas in 1994. They Syrens series included several titles of note, including James Fenton’s slim publication On Statues (1995) and Proust’s On Reading (1995).

For the Flaubert edition, Julian Barnes provides a preface in the format of a dictionary with one entry per letter. This format resembles (but is entirely different in content from) the dictionary chapter in his novel Flaubert’s Parrot.

The Library Book (Profile Books, 2012)

Notes on this edition: Julian Barnes. “The Defence of the Book.” The Library Book. London: Profile Books, 2012. Pp. 180 + [2]. 18.5 x 11.5 cm.

As part of the austerity policies sweeping through England, library cuts and closures became all too common an occurrence. In 2012, The Library Book was published in support of The Reading Agency’s efforts to promote libraries and reading.

In addition to Julian Barnes, several other authors contributed pieces to the book, including Zadie Smith, Alan Bennettt, Stephen Fry, James Brown, Anita Anand, Hardeep Singh Kohli, Luch Mangan, Seth Godin, Val McDermid, Lionel Shriver, Bella Bathurst, China Miéville, Caitlin Moran, Tom Holland, Susan Hill, Michael Brooks, Bali Rai, Ann Cleeves, Julie Myerson, Nicky Wire, Kate Mosse, Karin Slaughter, and Miranda McKerney.

Barnes’s contribution “The Defence of the Book” (pp. 9-13) claims to be “From a proposed second edition of England, England“, and it outlines the collapse of libraries and reading in England after Sir Jack Pitman’s theme park has brought forth the economic decline of ‘Old England’. Barnes published his piece of short fiction in The Guardian during National Libraries Day in February 2012.