The Man in the Red Coat: Julian Barnes calls out the ‘deluded, masochistic’ Brexit project

Review: Non-fiction book revisits the belle époque through the life of one of its colourful celebrities

The period in French history between the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 and the outbreak of the first World War in 1914 is known as the belle époque. As Julian Barnes observes, there was nothing all that “belle” about it: it was, he writes, “an age of neurotic, even hysterical national anxiety, filled with political instability, crises and scandals.”

In his new non-fiction book, The Man in the Red Coat, Barnes revisits that era through the life of one of its celebrities, the renowned surgeon and gynaecologist Dr Samuel Jean Pozzi (1846 - 1918). Pozzi, who published his groundbreaking 1,000-page Treatise of Gynaecology in 1890, established France’s first chair of gynaecology in Paris.

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