By C. Franken

This publication considers the paintings of the novelist and critic A.S. Byatt within the context of latest debates approximately paintings, authorship, creativity, and gender. A.S. Byatt emerges as an writer who offers us with attention-grabbing and ambivalent graphics of writers and who makes use of metaphors of creativity in unique methods.

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Additional info for A. S. Byatt: Art, Authorship, Creativity

Sample text

He splits George Eliot’s ‘genius’ into two personae. One is the non-genius, the woman writer George Eliot who, according to Leavis, thwarts some of her novels by identifying with her women characters in ways that are far too autobiographical, personal, ‘emotionally self-indulgent’, ‘immature’ and ‘self-ignorant’. Maggie Tulliver in The Mill on the 22 A. S. Byatt Floss, Dorothea Brooke in Middlemarch and Romola in the novel of the same title are all flawed in this way. According to Leavis, Maggie Tulliver is an ‘idealized self-portrait’: an immature girl portrayed by an immature novelist.

Byatt’s heart-felt plea for the importance of a concept of writing as constitutive of ‘identity’ results in a defence of individualism, selfsufficiency, separation and isolation as creative strengths. From this follows a Leavisite definition of ‘the artist’ as someone who realizes his own separation and then starts framing and imagining the world. 56 This traditional ending testifies to the legacy of Leavis. Byatt could have resolved her ambivalence towards post-structuralism in a different way. For instance, if read against the background of feminist thought about literature and authorship, Byatt’s ambivalence about post-structuralism takes on a different meaning.

Byatt’s mother acted out her frustration on her children who, as a result, were determined to lead different lives. However, Byatt’s grant was taken from her upon her marriage – ‘men in my position had their grants increased, to provide for their households’ (p. ix). When she moved to Durham with her husband she did manage to finish The Shadow of the Sun, but under stressful circumstances: I was a very desperate faculty wife in Durham. I had two children in two years – I was 25, and thought I was old, ‘past it’.

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