Essays on the Fiction of A. S. Byatt: Imagining the Real

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

ALEXA ALFER is affiliated with Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London.

MICHAEL J. NOBLE is a Fellow of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He has taught widely on British fiction and drama.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction 1
Of Prisms and Prose: Reading Paintings in A. S. Byatt's Work 15
A Modern "Seer Blest": The Visionary Child in The Virgin in the Garden 31
Realism and Its Discontents: The Virgin in the Garden and Still Life 47
A Tower of Tongues: Babel Tower and the Art of Memory 61
In Search of Self and Self-Fulfilment: Themes and Strategies in A. S. Byatt's Early Novels 75
"What's love got to do with it?": Postmodernism and Possession 89
Conclusion in Possession 105
Wonder-Tales Hiding a Truth: Retelling Tales in "The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye" 123
"Forever possibilities. And impossibilities, of course": Women and Narrative in The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye 135
Writing Natural History: "Morpho Eugenia" 147
Angels and Insects: Theory, Analogy, Metamorphosis 161
True Stories and the Facts in Fiction 175
Select Bibliography 201
Index 217
About the Contributors 222
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2005

    Undistilled Truth

    A great read for the serious student of A. S. Byatt. The editors' strong background and reverence for the subject is apparent in their selection of essays. I especially enjoyed their exploration of Kora's gift for contextualising the mnemonic structures of a work of fiction. I don't want to give away the ending, but trust me it's worth the wait. I hope the editors' next collaboration is also worth the wait!

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