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Extra info for A.S. Byatt: Critical Storytelling
2, ch. xiv, pp. 1–3. See Herbert,  1961. See Coleridge, [1806–7] 1974: The butterfly the ancient Grecians made The soul’s fair emblem, and its only name – But of the soul, escaped the slavish trade Of Mortal life! – For in this earthly frame Ours is the reptile’s lot, much toil, much blame, Manifold motions making little speed, And to deform and kill the things whereon we feed. 9 S. T. Coleridge, qtd by Hazlitt, 1903: vol. xviii, p. 371. qxd 24/09/2010 13:23 Page 36 3 Writing the contemporary: The Virgin in the Garden and Still Life In her 1979 survey of contemporary fiction, ‘People in Paper Houses’, A.
SS: 31). Henry, at last stirred out of his increasingly irritable silence, responds in kind: ‘Come to grips? . Do you mean describe, or condemn, or both? No, I can’t say I do. And I wouldn’t know how else to come to grips. I’m not going to live in it, or near it. I don’t have to. ’ ‘Because it’s real. ’ ‘I find this real and urgent enough,’ Henry muttered into his beard. (SS: 31–2) And indeed he does. Prone to ‘attacks of vision’ since his youth, Henry has long been accustomed to what, invariably and in line with Romantic tradition, are exalted – and very ‘real and urgent’ – moments of artistic apprehension of nature which, in his wife’s experience, are ‘almost always only a prelude to fits of really strange behaviour’ (SS: 8), but which Henry himself perceives as ‘a direct source of power’ (SS: 58–9).
Rather than a ‘language new and . . clean’, however, the novel which Henry inhabits reserves, as we have seen, its most obvious moments of pastiche for Henry’s most heightened states of consciousness. It is worth noting that The Shadow of the Sun deploys such elements of pastiche with some degree of ambivalence on its own part. qxd 24/09/2010 13:23 Page 21 Fathers, sisters and the anxiety of influence 1111 2 3 4 5111 6 7 8 9 10111 11 2 3111 4 5 6 7 8 9 20111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40111 21 which, at this historically specific moment, is perceived to be surging to the surface of the collective literary consciousness.
A.S. Byatt: Critical Storytelling by Alexa Alfer