The Postmodern Bravura of A.S. Byatt


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Year of publication 2005
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source The Atlantic Critical Review
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Informatics

Field Mass media, audiovision
Keywords A.S. Byatt; contemporary novel; postmodern writing; critical theory
Description Described as one of the most interesting British novels of the 1970s, A.S. Byatts The Virgin in the Garden (1978), the first volume of her then planned tetralogy, has been since followed by another three volumes Still Life (1985), Babel Tower (1996) and A Whistling Woman (2002). The four novels constitute a realistic family saga told against the backdrop of the British 1950s and 60s, richly interwoven with multilayered literary experiment and polemics with postmodern trends and concepts. In much the same way, combining a thrilling realistic narrative with an interplay of analogies, pastiche and a merging of genres, Byatt throws a Victorian glove into the ring of debate with the practitioners of modern critical theories in her novel Possession (1990). But it is always postmodern weapons that, with eloquent bravura, the author deploys in her polemical battle. With her defence of the power of words and the multiplicity of meanings and readings Byatt speaks up for the writer and his/her work and against the limitations of theories which reduce books by creative, one-sided interpretations. In Byatts fiction it is the imposing scope of her novels, their stylistic and genre variety and the wealth of themes that appear to be the authors intention as well as success. The best way to grasp them is to take up the intellectual challenge that Byatts polemical game of tradition and postmodernity offers.
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