Before She Met Me
Julian Barnes was born in Leicester (England) in 1946. He briefly considered a career in philosophy, but then decided to be an advocate. He actually never started a career in law, but worked as a lexicographer. ('Dictionary writer') After that he went into journalism and at the age of forty he became a writer of fiction. He wrote a series of thrillers under his pseudonym 'Dan Kavanagh'. Under his own name, he wrote a couple of masterpieces like 'Flaubert's Parrot'.
Publisher: Wolters Noordhoff. Date of publication: 1997. Date of first publication: 1982
It's a psychological drama because you see Graham going down at his own thoughts about Ann's earlier relationships with other men. Graham is fascinated and later obsessed about it; he goes down because he went out of his mind.
Explenation of title
Graham Hendrick is fascinated by Ann's past: her relationships with other men before she met him. Eventually his fascination becomes an obsessive jealousy about her affairs.
Graham Hendrick, a history teacher at London University, leads a boring life without any things that makes life attractive. Then he meets Ann at a party at Jack Lupton's place. He falls in love with her. He leaves his wife Barbara to live with Ann. After a while he goes to the cinema with his daughter Alice. He is surprised to see that Ann is committing adultery in the movie. Ann appears to have had a short career as an actress in British B-movies.
Graham is fascinated and tracks down All over London to see the movies with Ann in it. Gradually his fascination turns into an obsession. He goes to Jack for advice. Ann does not know what to do with Graham's fascination and she also goes to Jack for advice. Graham then suspects that Jack who is a real womaniser has had an affair with Ann as well. He studies all of Jack's novels and he finds a lot of 'toasts' about Ann. Jack always puts these 'toasts' and 'teases' in his novels. He recognises certain behaviours and other things that revered to Ann in persons. When these persons appear in the novel there is always talk of sex.
Graham thinks that they still have a relationship. Then Graham meets Jack's wife Sue to be sure of his discoveries. One day he visits Jack. There he stabs him to death. His wife is worried about him because he didn't come home. She rings everybody. Eventually she goes to Jack's place. Graham ties her up and commits suicide.
Place and time
The stories especially takes place at Ann's apartment in London and at Jack's place. Besides these places also at the cinema, his classroom at London University and at a hotel in South-France, when they were on holiday. The story is about four or five years of Graham's life, as from April 1977. The story took place because Graham found his life uneventful and that's why he falls in love with Ann, whom he meets at a party of Jack, and leaves his wife and daughter.
The book contains 11 chapters. Inside these chapters, Graham's fascination turns into a kind of obsession and this obsession turns into an obsessive jealousy. The story is written in the third person by an omniscient author. He doesn't give you much emotions through the story and he gives you a description of Graham and Ann at the beginning of the book.
Graham (leading character) is an intellectual person that doesn't show his feelings a lot. Graham wasn't satisfied with his uneventful life. By meeting Ann, everything changes. He starts to live again and enjoys life. After a while he is fascinated and later obsessed by the affairs of Ann with other men. He keeps asking her if she had also slept with a certain person from the movies where Ann was also playing in. It really pursues him. Then he finds out that his wife still got a relation with Jack. He is out of his mind by that and kills Jack and himself. Before his suicide, he understands his situation. The 40 'boring' years where his best years. Now the offal (rubbish) has come out. By giving your life a meaning, you just postpone that process. So his life had a meaning and now with Ann the offal have come out. He cannot accept this happening to him and he finishes his life.
Barbara: Graham's first wife. She raises Alice. After the divorce, she doesn't want anything from Graham.
Alice: Child of Graham and Barbara. She loves both.
Ann: Graham's second wife. She had a short career as an actress in B-movies, which she gave up a while ago.
Jack: Married with Sue.
Sue: Married with Jack. Has an affair with Graham, after Graham discovered that Ann committed adultery.
Theme and motives
The theme of this story is committing adultery. Graham commits adultery by having an affair with Ann and Ann by having an affair with Jack during her relationship with Graham.
This story is written in modern period.
"Ik vind dit wel een aardig boek om mijn Engels dossier mee te beginnen. Ik was eerst begonnen aan "a scarlet letter", maar ik vond het begin zo moeilijk (ontiegelijk veel moeilijke woorden), dat ik maar aan deze begonnen ben. Ik vond dit eerst wel zonde, maar in de loop van het verhaal, werd het steeds leuker. Vooral het einde is schitterend."
Overspel, een best wel interessant onderwerp, maar het gaat uiteindelijk toch om het verhaal zelf en niet om het onderwerp. Het zette me wel even aan het denken, vooral hoe Graham met de situatie omging. Het verhaal heeft niet echt heel veel diepgang.
De nadruk ligt bij de gevoelens, maar toch worden er in het verhaal niet echt gevoelens verklaart, die moet je wel uit de gebeurtenissen halen. De gebeurtenissen volgen elkaar op en zijn dus goed met elkaar verbonden. Ze zijn overigens erg dramatisch. De afloop vind ik wel tof. Ik hou wel van die verhalen waar ze elkaar aan het eind afslachten. Ja, aan dat einde is niks mis mee.
Daar valt weinig over te zeggen vind ik. Hij is wel helder, dat is zeker. Het karakter van Graham ontwikkelt zich vanaf het begin van het verhaal tot het eind.
Het taalgebruik is niet zo moeilijk, dat is een reden waarom ik dit boek gekozen heb. Ik had nog nooit eerder een Engels boek gelezen, dus als je constant moeilijke stukken voor je neus krijgt, dan raak je al gauw de kluts kwijt. Er zijn niet zoveel uitvoerige beschrijvingen en veel dialogen zijn er ook niet veel.
De personages zijn voor mij wel levensecht en niet voorspelbaar. Dat vind ik wel tekens van een goede schrijver.
Dit boek is zekersteweten een aanrader, maar 'a scarlet letter' is volgens mij mooier. Ik ken namelijk wat Canadezen en Amerikanen, en hebben mij onder andere dat boek aanbevolen en nog één, maar daar ben ik de naam van kwijt. Ik heb nu nog weinig kennis over Engelstalige literatuur, maar voorzover bevalt het me wel. Zeker voor de beginners is dit een leuk begin.
Andere boeken van deze auteur:
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