Luc Sante writes:
T he man in the title of Julian Barnes’s eighth work of non-fiction is the Parisian physician Samuel Pozzi. The red coat, or perhaps it’s a dressing-gown, is what he is wearing in the 1881 portrait by John Singer Sargent, Dr Pozzi at Home. It is a swashbuckling, very theatrical portrait, one that would make anyone curious about its subject. Almost any other sitter would be devoured by that bright red coat, floor-length with a giant collar, but Dr Pozzi easily dominates his apparel, the coat merely a showcase for his matinée-idol looks and long, tapered fingers. So it was, too, in Pozzi’s world, as chronicled by Barnes; even among the loudest and most insistent personalities of fin-de-siècle Paris, the mild-mannered Dr Pozzi more than held his own. And he knew everybody, or at least that small segment of the population that considered itself to be everybody.