2016年4月30日 星期六

A. S. Byatt, On Histories and Stories . The Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature,

 A. S. Byatt, On Histories and Stories

包括 Including the 1999 Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature.

On Histories and Stories: Selected Essays (The Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature) Paperback – February 19, 2002

  • Series: The Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (March 30, 2002)

As writers of English from Australia to India to Sri Lanka command our attention, Salman Rushdie can state confidently that English fiction was moribund until the Empire wrote back, and few, even among the British, demur. A. S. Byatt does, and her case is persuasive. In a series of essays on the complicated relations between reading, writing, and remembering, the gifted novelist and critic sorts the modish from the merely interesting and the truly good to arrive at a new view of British writing in our time.
Whether writing about the renaissance of the historical novel, discussing her own translation of historical fact into fiction, or exploring the recent European revival of interest in myth, folklore, and fairytale, Byatt's abiding concern here is with the interplay of fiction and history. Her essays amount to an eloquent and often moving meditation on the commitment to historical narrative and storytelling that she shares with many of her British and European contemporaries. With copious illustration and abundant insights into writers from Elizabeth Bowen and Henry Green to Anthony Burgess, William Golding, Muriel Spark, Penelope Fitzgerald, Julian Barnes, Martin Amis, Hilary Mantel, and Pat Barker,On Histories and Stories is an oblique defense of the art Byatt practices and a map of the complex affiliations of British and European narrative since 1945.

Expanding on lectures originally given at Yale and Emory universities, as well as on essays written for an anthology and the New York Times Magazine, British novelist Byatt weaves this disparate material together into a coherent artistic credo. Unlike her sister, Margaret Drabble, a fervent defender of classic social realism, Byatt is more of a postmodernist, fond of narrative games like those employed in Martin Amis's Time's Arrow or Graham Swift's Waterland. The two opening chapters make a reasonably persuasive defense of historical fiction, such as Byatt's own Possession, but the book really gets going with "Ancestors," a fascinating examination of the ways in which the natural sciences, particularly Darwinian ideas about evolution and time, have affected both the techniques and themes of writers as different as John Fowles and Penelope Fitzgerald. The bravura closing sections claim myths and fairy tales as the principal inspiration for modern fabulists like Italo Calvino and Roberto Calasso who are seeking, as is Byatt herself, "quickness and lightness of narrative." "The Greatest Story Ever Told" is not, to Byatt, the Bible, but the Thousand and One Nights, preeminent among those "shape-shifting" story collections that remind us "narration is as much a part of human nature as breath and the circulation of the blood." Throughout this cogently argued book, Byatt maintains a pleasingly direct tone, using the first person to state her reactions to particular books but always sticking to the point and seldom falling into self-aggrandizement. (However, the examples from her own work, though relevant, could have been elucidated more briefly.) Even readers who don't share her fondness for elaborately embroidered narratives will be struck by Byatt's well-argued contention that "European storytelling derives great energy from artifice, constraints and patterning." (Mar.)Forecast: Byatt the novelist reaches a broad audience, but this title features Byatt the literary critic, and is directed at serious students of literature. It won't enjoy the numbers that the novels garner.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


 A. S. Byatt, "Fathers, Forefathers, Ancestors: The Surprising
Renaissance of the British Historical Novel" 

Emory Ellmann Lectures logo
The Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature, now among the most prominent in North America, were established in honor of Richard Ellmann (1918–1987), who served Emory University as the first Robert W. Woodruff Professor from 1980 to 1987. For more than forty years, his writing set the highest standards of critical inquiry and humanistic scholarship. The biographer of James Joyce and Oscar Wilde, Ellmann enjoyed eminent domain among the interpreters of W. B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, Henry James, T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, and other modern authors. His public lectures were unparalleled in their appeal to a worldwide audience of readers. Ellmann always spoke in a language that invited the reader to share his or her personal engagement with serious literature.

James Joyce playing the guitar photograph by Ottacaro Weiss
The Richard Ellmann Lecturers
1988  Seamus Heaney, "The Place of Writing"
1990  Denis Donoghue, "Being Modern Together" 
1992  Anthony Burgess (resigned; deceased) 
1994  Helen Vendler, "The Breaking of Style" 
1996  Henry Louis Gates Jr., "The Art and Politics of Wole Soyinka
1999  A. S. Byatt, "Fathers, Forefathers, Ancestors: The Surprising
Renaissance of the British Historical Novel" 

2001  David Lodge, "Consciousness and the Novel" 
2004  Salman Rushdie, "The Other Great Tradition
2006  Mario Vargas Llosa, "Three Masters: Cervantes, Borges, and
Ortega y Gasset"
2008  Umberto Eco, "Confessions of a Young Novelist"
2010  Margaret Atwood, "In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination"

graphic with link to give to the Ellmann Lectures

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Emory Ellmann youtube video

The Ellmann Lectures are directed by Joseph Skibell, professor of English and creative writing at Emory University. Skibell accepted the directorship in 2008 when Ron Schuchard, Goodrich C. White professor of English, retired from the position.
Skibell is the author of three novels: A Blessing on the MoonThe English Disease, and A Curable Romantic. He has received the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, among numerous other awards. His work includes plays, stories, essays, and a libretto for an opera based on A Blessing on the Moon.

Links to Ellmann books:
Seamus Heaney, The Place of Writing
Mario Vargas Llosa, Wellspring

The illustrations branding the 2013 Paul Simon Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature event are based on a portrait by Mark Seliger featured on the lecturer page. Illustration by Stanislawa Kodman.