The Reconstruction of Truth through Unreliable Voices in Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending

Document Type: Original Article


1 PhD Candidate of English Language and Literature, Razi University, Kermanshah, Iran

2 Associate Professor of English Language and Literature, Razi University, Kermanshah, Iran



The present study intends to examine the reconstruction of truth through unreliable narration in Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending (2011). In the process of seeking a fiction in which the narrator is manipulated by the authorial voice to self-refutation, it finds Barnes’ fiction to the purpose. As such, we contend that Barnes resorts to unreliable voices to make his readers suspect the truth of his narrative. In addition to the unreliability of the narrator, the reader is also aware of a cunning voice that is not present in the fiction as the voice commenting on the narrator’s words, but as a scheming intelligence distorting the narrator’s integral sequence of events. This study wants to argue that such a voice can itself be established within the novel as unreliable. To this end, a narratological analysis will be conducted in two stages. The first will focus on the level of the story, mainly on the position of the narrator, to suggest that the narrator gives us three main reasons to doubt his reliability: his age, dementia, and addiction to alcohol.  The second stage is going to concentrate on the level of the text to examine the role of the implied author. It will ultimately show that the implied author is an unreliable voice that further twists the narrator’s accounts.


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