The Matisse Stories

The Matisse Stories

5.0 1
by A. S. Byatt
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

These three stories celebrate the eye even as they reveal its unexpected proximity to the heart. For if each of A.S. Byatt's narratives is in some way inspired by a painting of Henri Matisse, each is also about the intimate connection between seeing and feeling--about the ways in which a glance we meant to be casual may suddenly call forth the deepest reserves of our…  See more details below

Overview

These three stories celebrate the eye even as they reveal its unexpected proximity to the heart. For if each of A.S. Byatt's narratives is in some way inspired by a painting of Henri Matisse, each is also about the intimate connection between seeing and feeling--about the ways in which a glance we meant to be casual may suddenly call forth the deepest reserves of our being. Beautifully written, intensely observed, The Matisse Stories is fiction of spellbinding authority.

"Full of delight and humor...The Matisse Stories is studded with brilliantly apt images and a fine sense for subtleties of conversation and emotion."--San Francisco Chronicle


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Bruce Bawer
For all their thematic elaboration, Ms. Byatt's stories in "The Matisse Stories" do not feel contrived or didactic. On the contrary, her characters are credible, their encounters authentically complex, their environments vividly delineated. Indeed, these stories are unusually painterly in their particulars of form, color and shadow....These stories are all about human beings: about how little we can know (or may care to know) about the people with whom we spend our lives, and how tragic the results of that ignorance (or indifference) can be. -- New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
In three masterfully written stories loosely inspired by Matisse paintings, Byatt (Possession) dazzles with her evocation of sensuous detail while adroitly emphasizing the interconnectedness of life and art. In each one, a woman teetering on the edge of losing her emotional equilibrium finds a small nugget of comfort after some unsettling surprises. Susannah, the troubled middle-aged heroine of "Medusa's Ankle," is drawn into a hairdressing salon by a Matisse reproduction on the wall. Byatt understands that a woman is most acutely vulnerable looking at her unadorned image in a mirror, and when the self-absorbed hairdresser confides that he plans to leave his wife for a young lover, Susannah's sudden outburst as she contemplates the loss of her youth, her attractiveness and her future is movingly real. Dr. Gerda Himmelblau, "a solitary intellectual nearing retirement," has a quieter epiphany in "The Chinese Lobster," but it is facilitated by a man whose sensibility about art and life she shares. Two doughty women captivate the reader in "Art Work," a delightfully surprising tale in which the "received" nature of art and a woman's role as muse are questioned with amusing insight. Byatt's lapidary prose shimmers with the colors she describes so intensely. Her understanding of human relationships is no less brilliant.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Three stories from Byatt, in each of which a woman's life is touched in some way by the paintings of Henri Matisse. (May)
Library Journal
A best seller in England, where it was published in 1993, this beautifully illustrated volume contains three stories-each a sort of "still life" inspired by a particular Matisse painting-of seemingly ordinary women: a middle-aged teacher forced to play psychiatrist to her self-centered hairdresser; a cleaning woman with a passion for knitting; and a college dean discussing a case of sexual harassment with the accused over lunch in a Chinese restaurant. Byatt (Possession, LJ 11/1/90), who has been in the news lately for her principled stand against huge advances for literary fiction, is a consummate prose stylist, possessed of both perfect pitch for dialog and a painterly eye for the telling details that flesh out these characters and reveal their essential humanness. Highly recommended for fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/94.]-David Sowd, formerly with Stark Cty. District Lib., Canton, Ohio
Donna Seaman
yatt has drawn on the twin spheres of her literary passions, fiction and criticism, to create a triptych of stunning stories. Each ever-deepening tale revolves around a painting by Matisse. The paintings and the stories are about women, but Byatt's women have none of the abandon of Matisse's serenely voluptuous beauties: her women work, worry, and sacrifice. They are responsible and painfully honest. We gradually realize that they are also simmering with anger and grief as Byatt's strategically neutral tone gives way to ravishing descriptions of sounds, colors, and smells that bring each setting to life and steer each conflict to its eviscerating conclusion. In "Medusa's Ankles," one of Matisse's monumental nudes, a rosy spread of femaleness, graces a hair salon where a distinguished translator hopes to regain a hint of her youthful looks. In "Art Works," Byatt delves into the mysteries of creativity with a brilliant group portrait of three very different artists: a generous wife, her petulant husband, and their regal housekeeper. And finally, in "The Chinese Lobster," Byatt contrasts the tortured self-loathing of an anorexic art student with the smug opulence of Matisse's nudes and ponders the lure of suicide. These are breathtakingly beautiful stories, rendered with precision and poetry.
From the Publisher
"Full of delight and humor...The Matisse Stories is studded with brilliantly apt images and a fine sense for subtleties of conversation and emotion." —San Francisco Chronicle

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307488046
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/23/2009
Series:
Vintage International
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
460,124
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

A. S. Byatt is famed for her short fiction, collected in Sugar and Other Stories, The Matisse Stories, and The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye. Her full-length novels include the Booker Prize-winning Possession and the trilogy sequence The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, and Babel Tower.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Matisse Stories 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago