Other books byA. S. Byatt
On Histories and Stories
As writers of English from Australia to India to Sri Lanka command our attention, Salman Rushdie can state confidently that English fiction was moribund until the Empire wrote back, and few, even among the British, demur. A. S. Byatt does, and her case is persuasive. In a series of essays on the complicated relations between reading, writing, and remembering, the gifted novelist and critic sorts the modish from the merely interesting and the truly good to arrive at a new view of British writing in our time. Whether writing about the renaissance of the historical novel, discussing her own translation of historical fact into fiction, or exploring the recent European revival of interest in myth, folklore, and fairytale, Byatt's abiding concern here is with the interplay of fiction and history. Her essays amount to an eloquent and often moving meditation on the commitment to historical narrative and storytelling that she shares with many of her British and European contemporaries. With copious illustration and abundant insights into writers from Elizabeth Bowen and Henry Green to Anthony Burgess, William Golding, Muriel Spark, Penelope Fitzgerald, Julian Barnes, Martin Amis, Hilary Mantel, and Pat Barker, On Histories and Stories is an oblique defense of the art Byatt practices and a map of the complex affiliations of British and European narrative since 1945.
The Matisse Stories
In a trio of stories--all inspired by a single Matisse painting--the veil of everyday life is lifted to reveal the extraordinary pain, desire, joy, and creativity of human existence.
When they were little girls, Cassandra and Julia played a game in which they entered an alternate world modeled on the landscapes of Arthurian romance. Now, the sisters are grown and have become hostile strangersâuntil a figure from their past, a man they once both loved and suffered over, reenters their lives. It is the skittish, snake-obsessed Simon who draws Julia and Cassandra into his charismatic orbit â¦ and into menacing proximity to each other, their discarded selves, and the game that neither of them has completely forgotten. What ensues is both shocking and as inevitable as a classical tragedy.
The End of the Gods
Ragnarok is narrated by Harriet Walter and retells the finale of Norse mythology. A story of the destruction of life on this planet and the end of the gods themselves: what more relevant myth could any modern writer choose? Just as Wagner used this dramatic and catastrophic struggle for the climax of his Ring Cycle, so A.S. Byatt now reinvents it in all its intensity and glory. Ragnarok is the story of the end of the world. It is a tale of destruction of life on this planet and the end of the gods themselves. What more relevant myth could any modern writer find? As the bombs rain down in the Second World War, one young girl is evacuated to the English countryside. She is struggling to make sense of her new wartime life. Then she is given a copy of Asgard and the Gods - a book of ancient Norse myths - and her inner and outer worlds are transformed. War, natural disaster, reckless gods and the recognition of impermanence in the world are just some of the threads that A.S. Byatt weaves into this most timely of books. Just as Wagner borrowed from this dramatic Norse saga for the climax of the Ring Cycle, so Byatt reinvents it for our time in all its intensity and glory. Linguistically stunning and imaginatively abundant, this is a landmark piece of storytelling from one of the world's truly great writers. Harriet Walter narrates with much feeling and integrity.