31 March 2016
Julian Barnes’ novel A History of the World in 10½ Chapters contains a section set in a hedonist’s heaven. The inhabitants, who can do what they like with a stream of willing celebrity participants, are very soon bored to distraction.
If Barnes’ send-up of the afterlife went unmentioned in this excellent Easter week series of The Essay (21-25 March) then it soon became clear that each of the five writers involved was in some way reacting to the facile, fais ce que voudras view of the great unknown. Eternity, we soon discovered, was an eternally complex business requiring an endless series of distinctions from the people who might be contemplating it.
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