Cover image for Essays on the fiction of A.S. Byatt : imagining the real
Essays on the fiction of A.S. Byatt : imagining the real
Alfer, Alexa, 1968-
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
x, 224 pages ; 25 cm.
Of prisms and prose: reading paintings in A.S. Byatt's work / Michael Worton -- A modern "seer blest": the visionary child in The virgin in the garden / Judith Plotz -- Realism and its discontents: The virgin in the garden and still life / Alexa Alfer -- A tower of tongues: Babel tower and the art of memory / Michael J. Noble -- In search of self and self-fulfilment: themes and strategies in A.S. Byatt's early novels / Kuno Schuhmann -- "What's love got to do with it?": postmodernism and Possession / Jackie Buxton -- Conclusion in Possession / Jean-Louis Chevalier -- Wonder-tales hiding a truth: retelling tales in "The djinn in the nightingale's eye" / Annegret Maack -- "Forever possibilities. And impossibilities, of course": women and narrative in The djinn in the nightingale's eye / Jane Campbell -- Writing natural history: "morpho eugenia" / Sally Shuttleworth -- Angels and insects: theory, analogy, metamorphosis / Michael Levenson -- True stories and the facts in fiction / A.S. Byatt.
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PR6052.Y2 Z64 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Over recent years, the increasing scope of A. S. Byatt's work as a writer has fostered a corresponding breadth of academic interest both in the traditional field of literary criticism and beyond the discipline among scholars of the natural and social sciences. Most of this research has been limited to conference papers, interviews, and articles scattered across a wide variety of journals and has examined only the most basic critical issues related to Byatt's writing. This volume provides the first substantive inquiry into her fiction and spans virtually the entire body of her work.

By advancing multiple and mutually informative theoretical frameworks for a critical appreciation of Byatt's work as a writer, this book surveys and furthers the growing critical interest in her fiction. Contending that Byatt's work renders the boundaries between criticism and fiction highly permeable, the responses to her work gathered in this volume purposely blur the demarcation lines between the different schools of thought currently fighting for critical supremacy. In doing so, they explore the narrative and intellectual terrain mapped out by one of Britain's most imaginative novelists and contribute to current debates on the contemporary novel in England.

Author Notes

ALEXA ALFER is affiliated with Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London. She has written on A. S. Byatt, Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida, Sylvia Townsend Warner, and Virginia Woolf, and has taught extensively on 20th-century British fiction. She recently edited A. S. Byatt in Focus for the German journal Anglistik and is the coauthor of the first comprehensive primary and secondary A. S. Byatt bibliography.

MICHAEL J. NOBLE is a Fellow of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He has taught widely on British fiction and drama. His research on A. S. Byatt, George Elliot, Samuel Beckett, etc. has appeared in such journals as the CEA Critic , Encyclia , and the Explicator . Most recently, he has been working with electronic media, designing online educational applications and development tools.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The essays gathered here are united in asking how one reads Byatt's critically self-conscious fiction--how critical theory and fiction enrich each other. Michael Levenson's reading of Byatt's Angels and Insects demonstrates that past and present, theory and fiction, text and intertext make sense only in terms of each other. Several of the essays examine the history of Byatt's critical reception, including the common classification of her work as postmodernist. Jackie Buxton's essay on Possession and Sally Shuttleworth's on Byatt and natural history both explore the complex relationship of Byatt's fiction to postmodernism. Several contributors argue that Byatt's fiction is not simply postmodern parody, but rather a deliberately staged problematization of the distinction between postmodern parody and its "original." Other essays in the volume examine the intertextual relationship between Byatt's fiction and historical texts, fairy tales, and paintings. The collection includes a very useful select bibliography of works by and about Byatt. Highly recommended for general readers and upper-division undergraduates through faculty. H. A. Booth SUNY at Buffalo

Table of Contents

Alexa Alfer and Michael J. NobleMichael WortonJudith PlotzAlexa AlferMichael J. NobleKuno SchuhmannJackie BuxtonJean-Louis ChevalierAnnegret MaackJane CampbellSally ShuttleworthMichael LevensonA. S. Byatt
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Abbreviationsp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
Of Prisms and Prose: Reading Paintings in A. S. Byatt's Workp. 15
A Modern "Seer Blest": The Visionary Child in The Virgin in the Gardenp. 31
Realism and Its Discontents: The Virgin in the Garden and Still Lifep. 47
A Tower of Tongues: Babel Tower and the Art of Memoryp. 61
In Search of Self and Self-Fulfilment: Themes and Strategies in A. S. Byatt's Early Novelsp. 75
"What's love got to do with it?": Postmodernism and Possessionp. 89
Conclusion in Possessionp. 105
Wonder-Tales Hiding a Truth: Retelling Tales in "The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye"p. 123
"Forever possibilities. And impossibilities, of course": Women and Narrative in The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eyep. 135
Writing Natural History: "Morpho Eugenia"p. 147
Angels and Insects: Theory, Analogy, Metamorphosisp. 161
True Stories and the Facts in Fictionp. 175
Select Bibliographyp. 201
Indexp. 217
About the Contributorsp. 222