Stern- und Geisterstunden: Erzählungen
A.S. Byatt Melanie Walz
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Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM By A.S. Byatt Melanie Walz

A.S Byatt chronicles the life of the mind with the immediacy other novelists bring to the physical world So when the graduate student hero of The Biographer s Tale announces that he needs a life full of things, we take his words with a grain of salt Yes, Phineas G Nanson has renounced the cross referenced abstractions of life as a postmodern literary theorist, andA.S Byatt chronicles the life of the mind with the immediacy other novelists bring to the physical world So when the graduate student hero of The Biographer s Tale announces that he needs a life full of things, we take his words with a grain of salt Yes, Phineas G Nanson has renounced the cross referenced abstractions of life as a postmodern literary theorist, and vows to ground himself in what he warily calls the facts the quotation marks are definitely in order Yet he first forays into empiricism by reading a three volume life of the Victorian traveler, writer, and diplomat Elmer Bole then immediately undertakes a biography of Bole s biographer, Scholes Destry Scholes Things, as Nanson discovers, can prove just as slippery as ideas His research quickly leapfrogs beyond the biographer to his other subjects scientist Carl Linnaeus, playwright Henrik Ibsen, and eugenicist Francis Galton, all of whom Destry Scholes chronicled in three unpublished, unfinished, and, as it turns out, well embroidered accounts Meanwhile, our hero continues his forays into the real world He takes a part time job with a pair of gay travel agents, who arrange some very specialized vacations, and meets up with a Swedish bee taxonomist named Fulla, who wants to save the world He also unearths a perplexing series of Destry Scholes s index cards, full of sketches, facts, quotations, and unattributed lines of verse These he attempts to shuffle into some kind of order, even as the enigmatic figure of the biographer himself seems to appear and disappear from view There are echoes here of Byatt s Booker Prize winning Possession, another detective story for the MLA set Yet The Biographer s Tale is an altogether odder and chillier sort of book It is, in fact, almost terrifyingly learned, and wears its research about as lightly as a pair of Fulla s Ecco sandals The mystery here is nothing less than the nature of mind, so it s no criticism to say that her characters have little life outside the ideas they represent What s surprising is that the result is so readable, even beautiful at times Here, for instance, is Nanson on truth and beauty There are a very few human truths and infinite variations on them I was about to write that there are very few truths about the world, but the truth about that is that we don t know what we are not biologically fitted to know, it may be full of all sorts of shining and tearing things, geometries, chemistries, physics we have no access to and never can have Reading and writing extend not infinitely, but violently, but giddily the variations we can perceive on the truths we thus discover The index cards themselves can be painful to read remember the ersatz Victorian poetry in Possession But persevere, dear reader meaning emerges through the play of one esoteric piece of information against another, just as it does in real life Byatt extends her philosophical variations as far as she giddily can, and in The Biographer s Tale, she has constructed an elaborate, glittering labyrinth at the center of which lie surprisingly simple truths Mary Park
  • Title: Stern- und Geisterstunden: Erzählungen
  • Author: A.S. Byatt Melanie Walz
  • ISBN: 9783821845524
  • Page: 235
  • Format: Hardcover

Comments

Marina Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
This is the tale of a would-be-biographer’s research for the purpose of writing an account of the life of another biographer, an obscure and forgotten figure in the novel’s world of letters.If I were to use only one word to describe this novel it would be erudite. A S Byatt is remarkably adept at showing off her extensive knowledge and enticing the reader into wanting more. But here, this doesn’t quite seem to be the case, all of the time. Our hero has to sift through his subject’s writi [...]
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Cecily Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
Story of a graduate student of lit crit who gives it up for the more concrete pursuit of facts, by writing the ultimate biography of a biographer. So layers of fictional biography, and lengthy and detailed diversions into the diverse interests of the original subject. The narrator is a man (admittedly of ambiguous sexuality to others), but it reads more like a woman telling the story, though I can't put my finger on why.When I read this way back in 2005, I found it “All very disjointed and ann [...]
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Lizzie Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
So this is a story told by an academic who decides to quit that and pursue concrete things. He decides to write a biography of a great biographer, known for his writings about a British adventurer. He obtains a number of essays written by the biographer, presented to us by Byatt, as she did with the poetry in Possession. They're puzzling - they describe playwright Henrik Ibsen, naturalist Carl Linnaeas, and scientist Francis Galton. All very well. But if they're intended to be biographical, they [...]
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Chris Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
The Maelstrom: how evocative that name is, the Charybdis that tempts you, the whirlpool that draws you down into its watery depths, a volatile spiral maze from which there is no escape. The Maelstrom, or Moskstraumen as the Norwegian original should really be called, features only sporadically in The Biographer’s Tale but its symbolism permeates the whole novel.In The Biographer’s Tale we have A S Byatt, critic, novelist and onetime academic writing in the first person as Phineas G Nanson. W [...]
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Quandong Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
Normally, I am A.S. Byatt's bitch. But I couldn't get into this book, I couldn't even get past the first 50 pages. I'd love to hear if anyone finished this and thinks I am missing something.
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Peter Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
One must bow to the scope of A.S. Byatt's fiction. Her knowledge is broad; her interests wide; her allusions many; her literary references dense. More impressive than all of these, however, is her skill as a storyteller - how she weaves her academic musings into epiphanies about life.The Biographer's Tale follows Phineas G. Nanson from the abstraction of graduate school to the discovery of wonder in the natural world. "e vision of these very real, chattering birds said to me that the senses of o [...]
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Rick Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
A.S. Byatt’s THE BIOGRAPHER’S TALE, is a mystery reminiscent of POSSESSION, although much more abstract and intellectualized. In the novel, graduate student Phineas G. Nanson drops his work in literary theory to pursue the “real,” embodied in his attempt to write a biography of biographer Scholes Destry-Scholes.Information about Scholes Destry-Scholes, however, is elusive and cryptic, and Nanson can only come up with clues. He eventually stumbles across a stack of index cards and a bag o [...]
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Ron Charles Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
Entering a novel by A.S. Byatt is like going to a party of very smart people. The initial thrill of mingling with such brilliance is tempered by the nagging sens e of one's relative stupidity.You know you're in trouble when a book opens with a quote from Empedocles and a reference to Lacan's theory of morcellement."The Biographer's Tale," a wildly inventive, over-demanding novel, reads like a parody of all things intellectual, Byatt included.The narrator is a comically self-conscious graduate st [...]
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Maddy Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
I've read a few of Byatt's books, and have been thinking about how to summarize my experience with them. She seems concerned with intellectual people (I think of all her characters having an I in their Mayer-Briggs classification) who, though some sort of academic or research-related journey, make strides in their romantic, sexual and emotional lives. The interesting thing is the weird, dark undercurrents that seem to go along with this journey. Usually it seems like the protagonist's journey to [...]
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Melanie Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
As a recovering post-sturcturalist who is quite glad that grad school is well and truly done with, I loved the premise of this book: Phineas G. Nanson ups and quits his graduate degree and critical theory seminars to write a biography of a biographer. In theory, I admire the elegance of a composite novel about a man researching a biographer who was working on a composite biography of three men who were obsessed in some way with the idea of the composite. In practice, I got bogged down by all of [...]
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Judy Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
Seeing that this was a blend of history and present-day narrative, I expected/hoped for another 'Possession'. It isn't - but maybe I shouldn't have expected that, as a writer like AS Byatt isn't likely to write the same book twice! I did enjoy it, all the same, although some of the long sections with little bits of the main character's research, as he aims to write a biography of the ultimate biographer, can be heavy going.
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Amy Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
Very literary and a bit over my head. I enjoyed A.S. Byatt's novel Possession, but this one I had a difficult time following. She's a very intelligent writer, which I appreciate, but sometimes it's a bit much. Still interesting, though!
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Karen Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
This is a cerebral novel about (narrated by) a graduate student of literary analysis who decides he wants to work with "things" instead of in the conceptual stratosphere that he has been used to so far in his academic career. So, he takes up the idea of writing a biography of a celebrated biographer from the beginning of the 20th century whose magnum opus is the 3 volume life of an 18th century British traveler with an absurdly long and disparate list of accomplishments. He begins his research, [...]
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Susan Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
Byatt has a way of making her characters seem like butterfly specimens pinned to a display. You may admire their intricacies, but you can never feel like you get close to them. Perhaps part of this is because they feel like they come from another time. Oddly enough, although one of the main characters is a new-agey earth mother type and computers and the Internet play a role here and there, the story does not gain much in warmth or a contemporary feel from either element. Nature in this book alw [...]
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Michael Spiering Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
I read this as a delightful satirical novel that cast a sidelong glance at some of the odder foibles not only of scholars, but the scholars they study. The insight behind the jokes, perhaps, is that genius coexists with eccentricity--if you want to think of figures like Linnaeus as genius. Perhaps genius is the wrong word here, but something worthy of scholarly biography. Similarly, we learn that a biographer may himself be a "genius"--here, I believe, the word is applied by a dissertation direc [...]
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Brigid Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
Since I liked Babel Tower (and long before that, Possession) so much, I thought I would read some other Byatt and found this one. It was so-so. Again, she interleaves multiple created and existing texts, which is only partially effective for me. I love her work with her actual characters so much more than her imitation of scholarly works or her character-created fictions. In Possession I shamelessly skipped the long poems, which didn't affect the read at all, but in both Babel Tower and this one [...]
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Liviu Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
This is another book I started months ago, read some, put it down, restarted it and so on until finally I got to about 50% in small chunks across time and then I read the rest in one sitting. Overall I liked a lot from it, but it's very unbalanced as a novel - the part that deals with the narrator and his relationships which is maybe 1/3 of the book itself is excellent but the rest which deals with the narrator's investigation of a writer/biographer and in turn that writer's investigations of ot [...]
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Paddy Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
What disappointment to find mind-numbing mountains of "knowledge" and "faux knowledge" in what started out as a possible romp through the fields of deconstructionists' most playful intellectual games. But haven't I written this before about other recent attempts of Byatt? Clearly, she and her sibs are brilliant scholars and writers, but strutting one's knowledge of others' scholarship weighs on the reader, who wants fresh intimacy with characters, lovable or not. In the end, I wish she were nice [...]
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Jeana Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
I'm saying I've read this because I read the first bit (23 pages) and I just CAN'T read anymore. It's too cerebral; it's too dry; I just don't care about the fact that the main character is reading about how the biographer wrote about some other guy who was "particularly fond of the contrast between red apples and green apples" (p. 21). I don't like reading biographies. I really don't. I prefer fiction. But the idea of reading a fictional story about a biographer's biography is just too much. So [...]
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Elizabeth Desole Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
I usually love Byatt though there have been times that I found the beginning of her books rough going. This one I actually gave up on. I never do this. It's just far too much like the diary of a not very interesting English Lit grad student
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Marvin Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
Surprisingly, I gave up on this one. Surprisingly, because I really liked her earlier book, Possession. But the elements that made that one intellectually rewarding somehow made this one seem pretentious.
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Meg Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
An interesting book, although ultimately disappointing. I never quite clicked with the narrator and the interweaving of random passages of text did not make for an easy reading experience. It sets up for more than it delivers.
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William Leight Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
I have a doubtless slightly unfortunate tendency to compare all A.S. Byatt novels to "Possession", but "A Biographer's Tale" makes such comparisons almost inevitable. It is, in a way, a mirror-image, or possibly bizarro-world version, of "Possession". Both novels have as their hero a young academic studying an unfashionable branch of literature; both feature a quest to solve a (fictional) literary mystery; both have a heavy Victorian influence; both involve the interpolation of excerpts from inv [...]
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Paul The Uncommon Reader Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
Too many layers for meThis was my third Byatt, after the truly impressive "The Children's Book" and the totally luscious "Possession". Byatt's output is, um, economical, so I've been saving her other stuff for a while. (Does anyone else out there do that? Purposely not read new books by favourite authors so that you've still got stuff to look forward to, and so that you aren't in the situation that you don't have more of your favourite author to read? Or possibly: there are so many other authors [...]
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Vita Annie Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
While Byatt has moments of glory with Phineas G. It seems she decided what she wanted to novel to be doing within the last few pages. Huge chunks of the book are devoted to bits of random research which you plod through hoping it will mean something later - only to find that it doesn’t really and could have been cut out completely. Honestly, I had to force myself to finish this book and I only did that because of Vera, Fulla and the men from Puck’s Girdle. Maybe this should have been a story [...]
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Ruth Brumby Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
A fascinating book about how human beings are both similar and unique, interconnected and individual and about how we are connected through language but also with the real stuff of the world. "As long as we don't destroy and diminish it irrevocably, the too-much-loved earth will always exceed our power to describe, or imagine, or understand it. It is all we have." I was puzzled by some things: why does everyone in the book have tiny writing and why did she choose such an odd narrator? Perhaps ju [...]
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Jane E Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
Blah, blah, blah. Rambling and pointless. My time is worth a lot more than this book. It was my first A. S. Byatt and will be my last.
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Melanie Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
Welcome to the Bizarro World edition of Possession. Where once the literary sleuths sought the mystery of a Victorian poet, now the sleuth seeks to escape the Laputa-like world of modern literary criticism. He wants things - facts - tangibles.Steered by his orotund advisor (who doodles random, obscene runes during lectures) and stirred by a three-volume biography of Elmer Bowles (a Victorian polymath whose own writings may or may not have been, shall we say, reliable), Phineas Nanson decides to [...]
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Rhiannon Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
I feel like such a cad. I bought this because I LOVE A.S. Byatt- bought it years ago- read the first few chapters and gave up. I couldn't follow it (probably because I was in school and not really able to read for fun much). My wife issued a challenge: we each work our way through our bookcases alphabetically, reading everything we haven't already read. I think 75% of the books on the shelf are mine, so this was a rare case of it's my book that I haven't read. WELL. I read the whole thing. It's [...]
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Leslie Graff Aug 04, 2020 - 05:15 AM
It feels like a betrayal to rate a Byatt novel so low but this book just disappointed me in so many ways. I purchased this book when it first came out, allowing myself a rare treat of a hardcover book as a PhD student. For years I was scared to read it, fearing that I too may be inspired to give up my literary studies and take up something more aligned with "facts" and "things." It sat on the shelf like a a precious gem, a book with so much promise that I was saving for a truly special moment. W [...]
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Stern- und Geisterstunden: Erzählungen By A.S. Byatt Melanie Walz A.S Byatt chronicles the life of the mind with the immediacy other novelists bring to the physical world So when the graduate student hero of The Biographer s Tale announces that he needs a life full of things, we take his words with a grain of salt Yes, Phineas G Nanson has renounced the cross referenced abstractions of life as a postmodern literary theorist, andA.S Byatt chronicles the life of the mind with the immediacy other novelists bring to the physical world So when the graduate student hero of The Biographer s Tale announces that he needs a life full of things, we take his words with a grain of salt Yes, Phineas G Nanson has renounced the cross referenced abstractions of life as a postmodern literary theorist, and vows to ground himself in what he warily calls the facts the quotation marks are definitely in order Yet he first forays into empiricism by reading a three volume life of the Victorian traveler, writer, and diplomat Elmer Bole then immediately undertakes a biography of Bole s biographer, Scholes Destry Scholes Things, as Nanson discovers, can prove just as slippery as ideas His research quickly leapfrogs beyond the biographer to his other subjects scientist Carl Linnaeus, playwright Henrik Ibsen, and eugenicist Francis Galton, all of whom Destry Scholes chronicled in three unpublished, unfinished, and, as it turns out, well embroidered accounts Meanwhile, our hero continues his forays into the real world He takes a part time job with a pair of gay travel agents, who arrange some very specialized vacations, and meets up with a Swedish bee taxonomist named Fulla, who wants to save the world He also unearths a perplexing series of Destry Scholes s index cards, full of sketches, facts, quotations, and unattributed lines of verse These he attempts to shuffle into some kind of order, even as the enigmatic figure of the biographer himself seems to appear and disappear from view There are echoes here of Byatt s Booker Prize winning Possession, another detective story for the MLA set Yet The Biographer s Tale is an altogether odder and chillier sort of book It is, in fact, almost terrifyingly learned, and wears its research about as lightly as a pair of Fulla s Ecco sandals The mystery here is nothing less than the nature of mind, so it s no criticism to say that her characters have little life outside the ideas they represent What s surprising is that the result is so readable, even beautiful at times Here, for instance, is Nanson on truth and beauty There are a very few human truths and infinite variations on them I was about to write that there are very few truths about the world, but the truth about that is that we don t know what we are not biologically fitted to know, it may be full of all sorts of shining and tearing things, geometries, chemistries, physics we have no access to and never can have Reading and writing extend not infinitely, but violently, but giddily the variations we can perceive on the truths we thus discover The index cards themselves can be painful to read remember the ersatz Victorian poetry in Possession But persevere, dear reader meaning emerges through the play of one esoteric piece of information against another, just as it does in real life Byatt extends her philosophical variations as far as she giddily can, and in The Biographer s Tale, she has constructed an elaborate, glittering labyrinth at the center of which lie surprisingly simple truths Mary Park

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    Published :2020-05-16T05:15:57+00:00