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A.S. Byatt: Essays on the Short Fiction

Celia M. Wallhead

A.S. Byatt has always alternated novels with shorter fiction. Different literary and linguistic models are applied here to analyse how she guides her readers’ understanding of vital, complex issues within her perennial themes of life, creativity and death. This study focuses on certain stories from the six volumes of short fiction she has produced to date. The two novellas of Angels and Insects are scrutinised for their intertextuality, while stories from Sugar and Other Stories, The Matisse Stories, The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice and Little Black Book of Stories are novel discussions of creativity and related gender issues.
Contents: Sugar and Other Stories: Schemas in ‘Sugar’ for the Truth/Falsehood Paradigm and Confection as a Metaphor for the Creative Process – Angels and Insects: Creativity, Form and Metamorphosis, Metaphor and Metonymy in ‘Morpho Eugenia’ – Intertextuality in ‘The Conjugial Angel’ – Interdisciplinary Intertextuality in The Matisse Stories – Make-believe as Metaphor: Fairy Tale and Dream in The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye – Velázquez as Icon in ‘Christ in the House of Martha and Mary’ in Elementals – The Story of Jael and Sisera in Five Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Texts: Byatt’s ‘Jael’ in Elementals – Byatt’s ‘Subtly Gothic’ and the Elderly Woman Victim in ‘Baglady’ (Elementals) and ‘Raw Material’ (Little Black Book of Stories).