In her collection of essays, On Histories and Stories, A. S. Byatt argues that "The Greatest Story ever Told" is not the Bible but in fact The Tales of One Thousand and One Nights. She admires myth making and "shape shifting," aiming for stories with the "quickness and lightness of narrative" that she respects in authors like Italo Calvino. She won the Booker Prize for Possession: A Romance, which brims with lush, ornate prose, containing a mystery within a mystery and a romance that stems from a long lost romance. In the short story collection Elementals, she demonstrates an imagination that is vivid and elaborate, and an eye for detail, specific and intricate, but with an elegant restraint less visible in her novels. These six stories (beautifully packaged in this British hardcover edition) have a deftness of touch. Her sharp intellect and familiarity with the classics is ever present in these stories, which are linked by themes of polarity, isolation, "loneliness and passion ? the mysterious absences at the heart of the fullest lives." Byatt often delves into fairy tale and literary parable, and invites comparison with fellow British countrywomen Jeanette Winterson and Angela Carter. Like these two, she is highly skilled in the art of merging our everyday world with an exotic, mysterious other world, then sharply observing the characters she makes to wander within these realms. Accompanying her characters to these vivid and varied places is a pleasure. Georgie, Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A new volume of stories from A.S. Byatt is always a joy, and this one is rich and rare indeed. In the same delectable format as The Matisse Stories and The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye, this collection deals with the fullest lives. A scholar pursues an elusive biographer, stumbling upon buried fragments of distant lives; a woman walks out of her previous existence and encounters an ice-blond stranger from a secretive world; a schoolgirl draws a blood-filled picture of Jael; a swimming pool reveals a beauteous monster in its depths. The settings range from the heat of Provence in summer to the cold forests of Scandinavia, from chalk-strewn classrooms to herb-scented hillsides, from suburban streets to rocky wilds. A marvellous present for all A.S. Byatt fans, this magical collection is also the perfect introduction to one of our finest contemporary writers.
"...[a] sparkling collection.... her vivid prose leaps and pirouettes, shimmies and shivers, in stories that touch on themes of art and desire, isolation and betrayal." Gabriella Stern, The Wall Street Journal
"...the longer stories, fired by a fierce intelligence and related in shimmering prose, evolve from idea to execution in unexpected and thrillingly persuasive leaps. This eclectic little volume should delight A.S. Byatt's devoted readers and attract many new ones." Hilma Wolitzer, The New York Times
"[Elementals] harnesses a brilliant new power that makes laissez faire reading impossible.... Byatt has descended beneath the surface of her intellectuals to quarry the myths below poetry and painting, to mine the classical and biblical sources of the Keats and Matisse and religious studies courses that have hitherto engaged her characters." Jonathan Levi, The Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review
From the booker Prize-winning author of Possession
comes this richly imaginitive story collection that transports the reader to a world where opposites--passion and loneliness, betrayal and loyalty, fire and ice--clash and converge.
A beautiful ice maiden risks her life when she falls in love with a desert prince, whose passionate touches scorch her delicate skin. A woman flees the scene of her husband's heart attack, leaving her entire past behind her. Striving to master color and line, a painter discovers the resolution to his artisitc problems when a beautiful and magical water snake appears in his pool. And a wealthy Englishwoman gradually loses her identity while wandering through a shopping mall. Elegantly crafter and suffused with boundless wisdom, these bewitching tales are a testament to a writer at the hieght of her powers.
Expertly navigating between the real and the fantastical, A. S. Byatt offers a magnificent new collection that transports the reader to a world where opposites -- passion and loneliness, betrayal and loyalty, fire and ice -- clash and converge.
A beautiful ice maiden risks her life when she falls in love with a desert prince, whose passionate touches scorch her delicate skin. A woman flees the scene of her husband's heart attack, leaving her entire past behind her. Striving to master color and line, a painter discovers the resolution to his artistic problems when a beautiful and magical water snake appears in his pool. And a wealthy English woman gradually loses her identity while wandering through a shopping mall. Elegantly crafted and suffused with boundless wisdom, these bewitching tales are a testament to a writer at the height of her powers.
About the Author
A.S. Byatt is the author of the novels Possession (winner of the Booker Prize in 1990), The Game, and the sequence The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, and Babel Tower. She has also written two novellas, published together as Angels and Insects, and four collections of shorter works, including The Matisse Stories and The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye. Educated at Cambridge, she was a senior lecturer in English at University College, London, before becoming a full-time writer in 1983. A distinguished critic as well as a novelist, she lives in London.
Table of Contents
Crocodile tears --Alamia in the Cevennes --Cold --Baglady --Jael --Christ in the house of Martha and Mary.