Volume 13, 2009

   Volume 5, December 2004

Volume 12, 2009
Volume 11, 2008
Volume 10, 2008
Volume 9, 2007

Volume 8, 2007
Volume 7,2006
Volume 6, 2005
Volume 5, 2004
Volume 4, 2001
Volume 3, 2000
Volume 2, 1999
Volume 1,1999


Truth Takes a Holiday: Julian Barnes’s England, England
and the Theme Park as Literary Genre



This essay views Julian Barnes’s satirical novel England, England as part of a new literary genre which I call “theme park fiction” – a genre that parodies our postmodern trend towards commodifying the hyperreal. Barnes presents a theme park called “England, England” as a simulacrum of a mythic, idealized version of “Ye Olde England” which offers the essence of English history and culture as a consumer product. The theme park’s unqualified success seems to “prove” the complete irrelevance of truth to most people. Barnes’s novel shows us that untruths are crucial to forging nations as “imagined communities” (as Benedict Anderson calls them): lies about the past create a mythology that unifies and masks a lack of essence in national identity. But if we abandon truth, Barnes warns, then we pave the way for the construction of something like “England, England,” the purpose of which is to repackage a country and its “history” as a commodity. To lose sight of the fact that there is truth underlying all our fictions, Barnes suggests, is to trivialize our lives. Truth cannot be abandoned, despite all the postmodern theories of the death of authenticity or the real.


Keywords: Julian Barnes, dystopian literature, England, England, theme park fiction, genre, postmodernism, simulacra, truth, authenticity


 Webmasters: Neic Rãzvan and Crăciun Bogdan