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Angels & insects : two novellas por A. S.…
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Angels & insects : two novellas (original 1992; edição 1992)

por A. S. Byatt

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1,954286,119 (3.56)92
These two fascinating novellas, like A.S. Byatt's Booker Prize-winning novel Possession, are set in the mid-nineteenth century, weaving fact and fiction, reality and romance. "Morpho Eugenia" is a lively Gothic fable of the Earthly Paradise, of the Victorian obsession with Darwinian theories of breeding and sexuality and the parallels between insect and human society - the capture and taming of nature, whether it be a young woman in a country house or a rare butterfly, gleaming in the forests of the Amazon. "The Conjugial Angel" concerns Tennyson's In Memoriam, published in 1850, mourning the death seventeen years before of his friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who was engaged to Tennyson's sister Emily. A philosophical ghost story, bizarre, comic, and moving, in which fictive mediums meet "real" characters, it explores the contemporary preoccupation with God and life after death. Resonant, magical, entirely original, this is A.S. Byatt at her best.… (mais)
Membro:uofuehum
Título:Angels & insects : two novellas
Autores:A. S. Byatt
Informação:New York : Random House, c1992
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
Avaliação:
Etiquetas:Nenhum(a)

Pormenores da obra

Angels & Insects por A. S. Byatt (1992)

Adicionado recentemente porm__b, sofiatahzib, Lila.Lee, YoavCohen, Scotus5, AnnaGS, ir3adu, Murmeli83, formerclarity
Bibliotecas LegadasGillian Rose
  1. 21
    A Handful of Dust por Evelyn Waugh (lisanicholas)
    lisanicholas: Although it develops different themes than Byatt's Morpho Eugenia (the "insects" novella in Angels & Insects), like Byatt's work Waugh's A Handful of Dust also deals with the bestial crudity that can lie under the veneer of conventional English gentility.… (mais)
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Two novellas by A.S. Byatt, the author of a particular favorite book of mine, Possession. Both stories share some commonalties with that work: an historical setting made real through the use of documents (poems, stories) that signify the date of their creation by their style. Both stories are set in the past, near the turn of the 19th century. “Morpho Eugenia” (the insects of the title) is a little mystery story about a naturalist who has lost all of his specimens during a sea-wreck and is forced to work as a catalogist for a wealthy amateur, working through the amateur’s bought samples. The naturalist is loosely based, it seems, on Alfred David Wallace, the co-discoverer of the theory of natural selection with Charles Darwin. He finds that his patron’s family is nearly as interesting as nature, especially one young lady cocooned from the world. But cocoons hide things.

The second story is more like Possession in that it plays revisionistic (or maybe impressionistic) with Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and his sister Emily through the medium of a medium (that is, a clairvoyant). The point around which the story revolves is Arthur Hallem, the subject of Tennyson’s “In Memoriam,” a friend of his youth and the betrothed of his sister, who died on a sea voyage when Hallem was twenty-two. Emily, now married, has lingering doubts about her choice of marriage, wondering, if she should have, as her brother’s poem snidely implies, spent her days in perpetual maidenhood. Are we destined to have only one soul mate, the other being with which we form ‘the conjugal angel’?

Byatt’s style is Byzantine. Her scholarship into literary history has informed her pen to leak the century from its nib, and is not for those married to modernity. Yet her subjects are fresh and vibrant, pictured with painful clarity in the harshest of lights. Her characters ache in-between the lines. ( )
  engelcox | Nov 2, 2020 |
The two novellas of Angels & Insects are linked mostly by the way they refer to Tennyson's In memoriam, the most famous poem of the whole Mid-Victorian period. In "Morpho Eugenia" a young naturalist debates with a clergyman who is trying to resolve the idea of a benevolent creator with Tennyson's "nature red in tooth and claw", whilst his own personal life starts to mirror in odd ways that of the insect communities he is studying; in "The conjugial angel" we are back with spiritualism and Swedenborg, and looking, forty years on, at the consequences of Arthur Hallam's death and literary transfiguration from the point of view of his fiancée, Alfred Tennyson's sister Emily, who is now happily married to Captain Jesse, to the disgust of Tennysons, Hallams, and the Victorian public at large. The high point is certainly the chapter where Byatt slips in a complete critical essay on In memoriam in the time it takes the elderly Laureate to button his nightshirt. ( )
1 vote thorold | Sep 23, 2020 |
This was an unread book that has been lurking on my bookshelves for about 25 years. It would have been bought in a charity shop (the pencilled in price on one of the front-piece pages gives the game away) after I had read and enjoyed Byatt's previous book: the much admired Possession published in 1990. This book published two years later is in fact two novellas both classified in the genre historiographic metafiction or in more simple words; in the same style as Possession. The reader is therefore plunged back into a Victorian Britain where Byatt introduces characters who mix with or are inspired by historical figures most commonly from the literary world. I was a little skeptical as to whether I would enjoy the reading experience of books written in such a similar fashion, but I needn't have worried both Morpho Eugenia and The Conjugial Angel work their magic despite their "Hollywood Endings."

Morpho Eugenia is the most straightforward of the two novellas in that the completely fictionalised characters operate amongst a background of historical figures. William Adamson has returned from a ten year exploratory trip to the Amazon basin and survived a shipwreck where most of his worldly goods have been destroyed. He had managed to save a couple of extremely rare mounted butterflies and had been welcomed into the rich family of the Alabasters, where Harald as the head of the family invites him to stay to teach his children about the natural world and help him with a book he is in the process of writing. William Adamson falls in love with Eugenia: Alabasters eldest daughter, but dare not approach her because of his lowly social rank and lack of money. Adamson begins a study of the local ant population in an attempt to fine tune his skill as a naturalist, he is encouraged by Matty Crompton who sees the publication of a book as a way out of their financial dependency on the Alabasters. The story takes shape as a romance with many allusions to the workings of the ant colonies that exist in parallel to the numerous staff employed in looking after the Alabaster family. Byatt skilfully draws the reader into the life of the Alabaster household and gives a lecture on the social life of ants at the same time.

While I was entertained by Morpho Eugenia I found the second novella; The Conjugial Angel much more interesting. Here Byatt successfully introduces her characters into the lives of the poet Alfred Tennyson and his family, while also seamlessly providing a mini critique of the poetry. We are in the world of the Victorians enthusiasm for seances as a means of contacting the dead. A medium Sophy Sheekhy and her friend Lilias Papagay arrive at the house of Captain Jess for an arranged seance. Captain Jess's wife Emily is the sister of Alfred Tennyson and she was engaged previously to Arthur Hallam who was also a very close friend of the poet. Arthur died young at 22 and Alfred mourned his death for a number of years and wrote one of his most successful poems "In Memoriam" to the young man who had made such an impression on him. Mrs Emily Jess is hoping that the seance will enable her to communicate with Arthur beyond the grave and Lilias Papagay is also wishing to find out the truth of her husband reported missing at sea some ten years previously. Many prominent Victorians were serious in imagining that they could receive messages from the dead with the aid of a medium and Byatt describes the seance with due reverence to her subject. The seance also allows her to read between the lines of Tennyson famous poem and imagine the relationship between the poet his sister and the handsome young Arthur:

"Alfred had taken Arthur and bound him to himself, blood to blood and bone to bone, leaving no room for her. It was true that late in the poem, reference was made to her love and her loss, but that too was painful, most painful. Alfred had allowed his fantasy to imagine Arthur's future, Arthur's children, Alfreds nephews and nieces , mixing their blood."

Of course there has been speculation about the nature of Alfred and Arthurs relationship: was it a love affair, was it requited? If the example of Byatt's prose sounds a bit like something D H Lawrence might have written then it gets even more so when she speculates about a homosexual relationship.

So from reading theses two novels I have learned more that I need to about ants and have become interested in the thoughts and feelings that inspired one of Tennyson's famous poems. Byatt just about stops short of giving a lecture on either subject and I can forgive her this because of her brilliant evocations of life in Victorian Britain. She tells good stories, romantic stories that fit well with the lives of the characters both historical and imaginary and if she does sound a bit like D H Lawrence in places; well there is nothing wrong with that. When I take down a long unread book from my shelves to read then at the end the decision is: either to put it back on the shelves or put it in the charity book box. This one went back on the shelves and so 4 stars. ( )
3 vote baswood | Jun 1, 2020 |
Read 2020, favourite. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 7, 2020 |
Five stars for much of the writing. Five stars for getting the first novella to what should for me have been its turning point; sadly, turns out to be its non-conclusion. One wanted to know what happened next.
Similar though different, the second novella has a conclusion but it's firmly of the deus ex machina variety. And I could have live happily with about half the poetry.
Not helped by the fact that in my ignorance I'd assumed that the contents list (Morpho Eugenia, The Conjugal Angel) meant two parts of one novel. Took me several chapters of the latter before I stopped wondering when the connection might emerge . . . . ( )
1 vote NaggedMan | May 4, 2020 |
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A. S. Byattautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculated
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Walz, MelanieTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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Contains two novellas: 'Eugenia Morpho' and 'The Conjugal Angel'. Not to be combined with single editions of either story.
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These two fascinating novellas, like A.S. Byatt's Booker Prize-winning novel Possession, are set in the mid-nineteenth century, weaving fact and fiction, reality and romance. "Morpho Eugenia" is a lively Gothic fable of the Earthly Paradise, of the Victorian obsession with Darwinian theories of breeding and sexuality and the parallels between insect and human society - the capture and taming of nature, whether it be a young woman in a country house or a rare butterfly, gleaming in the forests of the Amazon. "The Conjugial Angel" concerns Tennyson's In Memoriam, published in 1850, mourning the death seventeen years before of his friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who was engaged to Tennyson's sister Emily. A philosophical ghost story, bizarre, comic, and moving, in which fictive mediums meet "real" characters, it explores the contemporary preoccupation with God and life after death. Resonant, magical, entirely original, this is A.S. Byatt at her best.

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