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The Virgin in the Garden

First edition (publ. Chatto & Windus)

The Virgin in the Garden is a 1978 realist novel by English novelist A. S. Byatt. Set during the same year as the coronation of Elizabeth II, the novel revolves around a play about Elizabeth I of England.[1] The novel features a strong use of symbolism, which The New York Times called "overloaded", that points towards Elizabeth I.[1] The novel is the first of a quartet featuring Frederica Potter, followed by Still Life (1985), Babel Tower (1996), and A Whistling Woman (2002).[2]

The book features numerous flower metaphors and Byatt described the character of Marcus as "a self-portrait: somebody baffled by things being far too much and not fittable into any of the languages you were offered".[3]

Reception

The New York Times describes the writing of "Byatt is essentially a fine, careful and very traditional storyteller."[1]

In a 1998 interview with Philip Hensher, published in The Paris Review in 2001, Byatt commented on a piece which John Sutherland had written in The Bookseller recently claiming that The Virgin in the Garden was "completely unreadable, and that he and a colleague of his and mine at University College had a bet about whether any of them could finish it and none of them could! He actually published that. So I'm always deeply surprised when anyone says anybody is reading it".[4]

References

  1. ^ a b c Dinnage, Rosemary (1 April 1979). "England in the 50s". New York Times Books.
  2. ^ Yeazell, Ruth Bernard (28 November 2002). "Overindulgence". London Review of Books. pp. 19–21. ISSN 0260-9592. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  3. ^ Newman, Jenny; Friel, James (2003). "An interview with A. S. Byatt". Cercles. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
  4. ^ Hensher, Philip (Fall 2001). "A. S. Byatt, The Art of Fiction No. 168". The Paris Review. Fall 2001 (159).

Further reading

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The Virgin in the Garden
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