Angels and Insects: Two Novellas

Angels and Insects: Two Novellas

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by A. S. Byatt
     
 

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In these breathtaking novellas, A.S. Byatt returns to the territory she explored in Possession: the landscape of Victorian England, where science and spiritualism are both popular manias, and domestic decorum coexists with brutality and perversion. Angels and Insects is "delicate and confidently ironic.... Byatt perfectly blends laughter and

Overview

In these breathtaking novellas, A.S. Byatt returns to the territory she explored in Possession: the landscape of Victorian England, where science and spiritualism are both popular manias, and domestic decorum coexists with brutality and perversion. Angels and Insects is "delicate and confidently ironic.... Byatt perfectly blends laughter and sympathy [with] extraordinary sensuality" (San Francisco Examiner).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Byatt revisits the Victorian landscape of Possession in these two fluid and intricate novellas. (Apr.)
Library Journal
This work consists of two novellas set in the mid-19th century. The first, ``Morpho Eugenia,'' is a Gothic fable that explores the multiple themes of earthly paradise and Darwin's theories of breeding and sexuality. There is an implied parallel between insect and human society throughout. The hero, a poor, scholarly entomologist, is taken into a wealthy Victorian family. His life and loves, particularly for the daughter Eugenia and the eponymous species of butterfly, comprise this tale. The second novella, ``The Conjugal Angel,'' is reminiscent of Possession ( LJ 11/1/90), Byatt's 1990 Booker Prize winner for fiction, wherein poetry is woven into the narrative. Here, the poem is Tennyson's ``In Memoriam , '' written to mourn the death of Tennyson's friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who was engaged to the poet's sister Emily--a main character here. This is a philosophical ghost story, bizarre and comic, but since assorted mediums meet real characters, it is difficult to relate to any of them. These novellas will attract attention due to the fame of their author, but they will appeal to a very limited audience. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/92.-- Patricia C. Heaney, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, N.Y.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679751342
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/28/1994
Series:
Vintage International Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
235,674
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.72(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

A.S. Byatt is the author of the novels Possession (winner of the Booker Prize in 1990), The Game, and the sequence The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, and Babel Tower. She has also written two novellas, published together as Angels and Insects, and four collections of shorter works, including The Matisse Stories and The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye. Educated at Cambridge, she was a senior lecturer in English at University College, London, before becoming a full-time writer in 1983. A distinguished critic as well as a novelist, she lives in London.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
London, England; France
Date of Birth:
August 24, 1936
Place of Birth:
Sheffield, England
Education:
B.A., Newnham College, Cambridge, 1957; graduate study at Bryn Mawr College and Somerville College

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Angels and Insects: Two Novellas 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
A. S. Byatt, once again, proves to be an extremely talented novelist, with her passion for biology, history, and spirituality. 'Angels & Insects,' which is my favorite book by A. S. Byatt, deals with subjects that might seem odd to us, 'contemporary' people living in the twenty first century. It is nevertheless an amazing novel, one that might give birth to the very deep thoughts, and one that might force you to draw analogies between us and the world of nature. 'Morpho Eugenia,' my favorite of the two novellas, tells us about a shipwrecked naturalist, who, having returned from the Amazon, finds himself 'taken in' by an aristocratic family whose members are compared to insects. I must confess that I loved that novella at once, although I did think that all that bug talk was getting pretty boring. I am, however, into entomology, so it didn't seem that bad to me, but some people may find it long and gratuitous. Anyway, 'Morpho Eugenia' is a magical novella, one that strikes you with its luscious prose and poems, and beautiful love and nature scenes. I especially loved the butterfly scene where Eugenia stood in a cloud of moths, which 'flittered' and 'danced' around her head, and her 'outstretched hands.' The last of the two 'pictures' in the end is absolutely unforgettable- dealing with the healing of the heart and a new beginning. The second novella, 'The Conjugial Angel,' tells us about the relationship between Alfred Tennyson and Arthur Hallam. If you don't know much about the authors of the Victorian era, and if you are not interested in spiritualism, then this novella is certainly not for you. I guess that you have to be a 'Victorian literature lover' to appreciate these beautiful tales about the people who might have had the same problems and choices that are before us now. I would recommend this book to anybody who loves Wilkie Collins, Sharlotte Bronte, and Jane Austen.