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We can’t do business

British fiction continues to ignore business, one of the most dynamic aspects of national culture. It's a shame

By Lucy Kellaway   October 1998

Sir Jack Pitman, the anti-hero of Julian Barnes’s latest novel, is a media magnate, a fraud, a bully. He is a man who likes to take calls while sitting on his porphyry toilet; outside his office is a eulogy to him carved in stone. In short, he is a cigar-chewing clich?, a grotesque caricature of the late Robert Maxwell.

England, England is set in the future. But Barnes’s attitude to business is rooted in the past. A hundred and fifty years ago it was all very well for Dickens to create the similarly inhuman character of Dombey, the cruel head…

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