Several years ago, I bought a secondhand copy of A.S. Byatt’s novel Possession. I was greatly impressed by it. So much so that I began to keep an eye out for more of Byatt’s writing, buying any books of hers that I found at used bookstores or book sales. Earlier this year, I learned that Montréal’s Blue Metropolis festival was awarding Byatt its International Literary Grand Prix, and that Byatt would launch her new novel The Children’s Book in Montréal; as a Montréaler myself, this seemed to me to be a good impetus to finally sit down and read through her collected works. And it seemed equally to be worth setting down my thoughts on her writing on this blog.
I’m going to try to have posts up daily, eventually covering all of Byatt’s fiction books published to date, starting with her first novel, Shadow of the Sun, and going through to Little Black Book of Stories. That’s fourteen books; eight novels, and six collections of shorter works. I’ll be breaking that up with some other bonus posts on ancillary material. I’m going to update this page with links to the each of the individual posts as they go up.
Byatt’s writing is dense with symbol and theme; I want to talk about those things, and try to work out what’s happening in each book. If over-arching ideas occur to me, I’ll be sure to point them out, but I’m less interested in comparing book to book than with observing the different manifestations of Byatt’s talent and seeing what sort of images and devices are used in a given story. It means that some of the posts will probably end up on the long side, but then there’s no space limitation on the internet. At any rate, if this can lead to some discussion about Byatt’s work, all the better.
Posting starts tomorrow.