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Îngeri şi insecte Volumul ngeri i insecte Angels and Insects cuprinde dou romane scurte Morpho Eugenia i ngerul conjugal Amestec de fic iune postmodern cu nara iune victorian , filosofie, tiin i poezie, volumul este printre cele mai incitante dintre c r ile semnate de AS Byatt Mesajul naratorului care se ascunde n spatele textului ar putea fi rezumat ntr una dintre frazele unui personaj feminin din Morpho Eugenia Lucrurile nu sunt ce par a fi This is a beautifully written book The first story concerns a man who, shipwrecked, finds a new home with a collector of specimens from such places as thethe man becomes entangled in the family, inevitably uncovering some dirty secrets, all the while trying to find his purpose There s some philosophical musing, and several long digressions on ants, as well as extensive excerpts from contemporary literature, religious works etc I would have preferred fewer excerpts andoriginal t This is a beautifully written book The first story concerns a man who, shipwrecked, finds a new home with a collector of specimens from such places as thethe man becomes entangled in the family, inevitably uncovering some dirty secrets, all the while trying to find his purpose There s some philosophical musing, and several long digressions on ants, as well as extensive excerpts from contemporary literature, religious works etc I would have preferred fewer excerpts andoriginal text, true of both novellas, because I genuinely enjoyed A.S Byatt s writing Characters had that really human quality of being both likeable and irritating, at times repulsive, at times delightful I did suspect the twist I believe there is meant to be a bit of a shocking reveal from almost the beginning The second story is about a group of people interested in communicating with the dead a woman who has lost five children, a woman whose betrothed died while he was traveling, whose new husband also attends and is a source of social discomfort, as she was expected to live and die in mourning, and a lusty itinerant preacher There is one medium who specializes in automatic writing and desperately misses the embrace of her husband, presumed drowned, and one medium who seems to exist almost entirely in the realm of spirits The story focuses on Alfred Lord Tennyson and his family, as his brother was the dead fiancee, and so there is much quoting But the passages about the spirits, the delicate examinations of everyone s reasons and beliefs and despair and love and hopelessness, so gentle and incisive, meandering and precise A S Byatt goes back again to the Victorian era she writes about so well and has put two novellas together Morpho Eugenia and The Conjugial Angel Both are well written and as always Byatt makes excellent use of poetry especially Tennyson s In Memoriam in the second novella.Morpho Eugenia the Latin name for a South American moth is about William Adamson and ian explorer who has returned and is consulting with Lord Alabaster, a cleric who is also obsessed with moths, butterflies, ins A S Byatt goes back again to the Victorian era she writes about so well and has put two novellas together Morpho Eugenia and The Conjugial Angel Both are well written and as always Byatt makes excellent use of poetry especially Tennyson s In Memoriam in the second novella.Morpho Eugenia the Latin name for a South American moth is about William Adamson and ian explorer who has returned and is consulting with Lord Alabaster, a cleric who is also obsessed with moths, butterflies, insects and is a generally obsessive collector Adamson agrees to catalogue his collection and becomes entangled with his family and marries one of the daughters This is a suitably gothic tale and is layered with symbolism Adamson himself becomes one of the specimens There is intrigue and secrecy and Byatt plays with the surname alabaster, using the whiteness of the skin of Adamson s wife to symbolize purity She then plays with the idea of the purity and decay and degeneracy underneath This is also set around the time that Darwinian ideas and the debate about evolution are taking place and the tensions around these ideas also underlay the novella There are fairly lengthy descriptions of the social life of ants which are gruesome and fascinating at the same time Matty Crompton is an interesting character and she plays the part of the intellectual foil to Adamson very well It is a satisfying and intellectually stimulating gothic tale.The Conjugial Angel takes a look at the Victorian obsession with s ances and the next world There is a tenuous link between the two stories in the form of the sea captain The main focus of the tale is Emily Jesse formerly Emily Tennyson , Alfred Tennyson s sister The s ances revolve around amongst others Arthur Hallam, the subject of Tennyson s poem In Memoriam Hallam was a close friend of Tennyson s who died at the age of 22 he was also engaged to Emily Tennyson The novella takes place many years after Hallam s death and after the writing of In Memoriam Byatt examines the persistence of love, memory and the way the living hold onto and re interpret the dead It is also about the guilt of those who carry on living There is a bleakness about the s ances and Byatt throws in some Swedenborgian theology just to spice things up There are some masterly touches which provide symbolism and humour the pet raven and the farting dog The use of the poem is excellent and Byatt provides a master class in the meanings behind the poem.Two very good novellas providing a snapshot of the Victorian period and some of its eccentricities and hidden depths The strong characters in these tales are the women the men are mostly weak, led though amiable , absent, opinionated or villainous The women have the inner strength and usually see the way forward Byatt writes beautifully and if you like Victorian tales this is for you RereadMy name , she said, is Matilda Up here at night there is no Matty Only Matilda Look at Me The above is dialogue from the book s first novella, Morpho Eugenia, and eerily echoes a recent read of mine, which eerily echoed another novel I read not too long ago While an overall theme of Morpho Eugenia is the dichotomy between the male protagonist s present life with a Victorian English family and his past experiences in the , Matty Matilda is revealed as a patient, reckoning forc RereadMy name , she said, is Matilda Up here at night there is no Matty Only Matilda Look at Me The above is dialogue from the book s first novella, Morpho Eugenia, and eerily echoes a recent read of mine, which eerily echoed another novel I read not too long ago While an overall theme of Morpho Eugenia is the dichotomy between the male protagonist s present life with a Victorian English family and his past experiences in the , Matty Matilda is revealed as a patient, reckoning force Though I fully remembered the ending from my prior read, I was still surprised by part of it Despite some self indulgent sections, knowing full well that s what you get with Byatt, I once again found this novella a multi layered, fascinating work Mrs Papagay wondered whether other people told themselves stories in this way in their heads, whether everyone made up everyone else, living and dead, at every turn, whether this she knew about Mrs Hearnshaw could be called knowledge or lies, or bothBefore starting the second novella, The Conjugial Angel, I was already swarmed by 19th century women real, fictional, even hybrids With this work, I can now add twoone fictional and the other a hybrid As interesting and erudite as Byatt s Swedenborgian and Tennysonian riffs were, I preferred being in the heads of the women Adding to the minor theme of the unseen woman of the first novella, a minor theme here is resistance to the Victorian age s angel in the house mentality, a resistance that perhaps leads to Emily s willful eccentricity, perhaps also to a bit of The Yellow Wallpaper but at least not to The Madwoman in the Attic After reading Byatt back to back along with my recent read of The Children s Book , it struck me that despite her very dark themes, these stories end on uplifting notes, endings that may be fantasies especially for the time but are not fantastical As a fourth read from her, this helps confirm Byatt as among my favorite authors All complex, rich, and mesmerizing This pair of novellas was published together in 1992, soon after Booker Prize winner Possession The blurb on the cover did a good job hooking me and mystifying me with semi spoilers in distorted compression The shipwrecked naturalist who is the protagonist of Morpho Eugenia is rescued by a family whose clandestine passions come to seem as inscrutable as the behavior of ins As a fourth read from her, this helps confirm Byatt as among my favorite authors All complex, rich, and mesmerizing This pair of novellas was published together in 1992, soon after Booker Prize winner Possession The blurb on the cover did a good job hooking me and mystifying me with semi spoilers in distorted compression The shipwrecked naturalist who is the protagonist of Morpho Eugenia is rescued by a family whose clandestine passions come to seem as inscrutable as the behavior of insects In The Conjugial Angel, a circle of fictional mediums finds itself haunted by the ghost of a very real historical personage The naturalist, one William Adamson, has lost most of his specimens and notes from his ten years in the jungles of South America and his prospects for a lucrative career based on the work are slim One of his wealthy customers for rare butterflies and the like takes him in and gives him work organizing his collection Harald Alabaster also tasks him to serve as a sounding board for his ideas for a treatise that can reconcile God with Darwinian evolution, which at this point in the 1860s is a hot topic Fascinating discussions, but to William the efforts of Alabaster don t inspire himBut you do not feel your own sense of wonder corresponds to something beyond yourself , William I do indeed But I also ask myself, what has this sense of wonder to do with my moral sense For the Creation we so admire does not appear to have a Creator who cares for his creatures Nature is red in tooth and claw, as Mr Tennyson put it Thejungle does indeed arouse a sense of wonder at its abundance and luxuriance But there is a spirit there a terrible spirit of mindless striving or apathetic inertia a kind of vegetable greed and vast decay which makes a mindless natural force much easier to believe in He may be a rational scientist, but he succumbs like a fool to love at first sight with one of Alabaster s daughters, Eugenia Happy days come for him at winning her agreement to marriage and persuading her father to accede despite his low birth But there is something missing in Eugenia, who passively goes along with being a baby machine This is one of so many analogies with the social insects that were his focus in his field work and a major topic of the discussions with his father in law Being a useless drone to his queen is something he resists He comes to appreciate studying the ants and bees on the estate with a female tutor for the Alabaster children, Mattie, who is a refreshing, though androgynous, character who strives to surmount gender and class barriers to the playground of knowledge In teaching the household s children about the ways of ants and bees, they find a path to write an accessible educational book I loved the fantasy tale she pens from the inspiration Byatt s presentation of the ferment of Victorian thinking about the world and the place of humans in it is wonderfully done It goes far beyond assailing creationist arguments In winding up this ensemble cast of characters with all the sublime Romantic thinking and poetry and the new scientific knowledge of the biological roots of human nature Byatt gets to play the Watchmaker god who walks away It felt playful on her part to let her characters linger on thinking about nature and nuture, instinct and predestination, that presaged modern formulations and debates on sociobiology from the likes of Stephen Jay Gould, E O Wilson, and Richard Dawkins William s fascination with the craft in ant slavery and the analogies between individual ant workers and cells in a superorganism makes a warm spot in my heart Mileage from this may vary among other readers.Some of my pleasure is biased from the allure ant behavior had for me in childhood, which shaped my choice later to become a biologist But I think others out there might feel the brilliance of how her heroes in their quest for knowledge faces down the almost Gothic horror of all the ways of parasitism and dog eat dog brutality in nature Getting the reader to see the proper privileged society through the images and metaphors of insect life was marvelous Its not hard to empathize with Alabaster s reluctance to relinquish the divine sublime of human art and esthetics Here he dwells on his altered responses to a beautiful painting of the Annunciation to Mary by angels with colored wings echoed by butterflies And now all this it as it were erased, and there is a black backcloth on an empty stage, and I see a chimpanzee, with puzzled eyes and a hanging brow and great ugly teeth, clutching its hairy offspring to its wrinkled breast and is this love made flesh No frog, no hound even, could have a vision of the Angel of Annunciation Where does it all come from The second novella makes a wonderful juxtaposition with the first in that the fad of spiritualism and s ances is another form of resistance of Romanticism to the advances of science Mrs Papagay, whose husband disappeared at sea, is a medium gifted in automatic writing from the minds of the dead while her otherworldly partner Sophie has the second sight to see ghosts and through windows it seems to angels and alien life forms of alternate universes His sister Emily, now married to a Captain Jesse, wants to use the s ances to communicate with her first beloved, her brother s best friend Arthur Hallam, who died before their wedding The Tennyson of nature being red in tooth in claw in Morpho Eugenia becomes in The Conjugial Angel a core presence for bravely holding to the immortal qualities of love, beauty, and the soul Readings of his poems are used to set the mood for the s ances, and the ghosts summoned into presence make use of his poetry to communicate Especially Tennyson s In Memoriam , which was a response to his 17 years of grief over the death of his beloved friend and fellow poet, Arthur Mrs Papagay is endearing, both pragmatic and nurturing, as well as strong enough to see through the manipulators and users in her circle She recognizes the entertainment value of the parlor tricks often employed in s ance productions, but she can t help believing in the reality of Sophie s visions I loved how she handles the lecherous lay minister, Mr Hawke, who is always pontificating on Swedenborg s views about the afterlife and witnessing of the permanent fusion in heavenly angels between male and female souls as a sexual apotheosis of human loveSwedenborg teaches us, as you know, that conjugial love comes to us all but once, that our souls have one mate, one perfect other half, whom we should seek ceaselessly Swedenborg was the first religious founder to give the expression of sexual delight the central place in heaven that in holds in many of our hearts on earth to divine, and to constate, that earthly love and Heavenly Love, are truly One, at their highest This is a noble, a daunting understanding, of our nature and our one true duty do you not think Better to marry than burn, said Mrs Papagay reflectively, quoting the gloomy admonition of the misogynist St Paul, but thinking of her own state of mind and body Mr Hawke made her aware of her own discreet burning at her side Mr.Hawke, Mrs Papagay thought would theorise if a huge red Cherub with a fiery sword were advancing on him to burn him to the bone he would explain the circumstances, whilst the stars fell out of the sky into the sea like ripe figs from a shaken fig tree The s ances conjure up some surprising presences and have significant impacts on the participants lives I loved the way Tennyson s overblown sentimentality gets deflated through the tale Emily in particular comes to realize how her much her brother usurped her own grief, effectively making himself the widow to Arthur s death in his epic poem It was, she knew and said often, the greatest poem of her time And yet, she thought in her bursts of private savagery, it aimed a burning dart at her very heart, it strove to annihilate her, and she felt the pain of it, and could not speak of that pain to a soul.Byatt is a charmer in her story telling, great on fruitful beginnings, surprising but apt in her endings, and masterly in her characters development and diversions in the body of her tales We can feel the warmth of compassion for the ones trying to solve life s great problems and a lively amusement in her fools and snobs

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