Time Will Tell: Time and Narrative in A. S. Byatt’s The Virgin in the Garden

Alfer, A. 2017. Time Will Tell: Time and Narrative in A. S. Byatt’s The Virgin in the Garden. in: Parey, Armelle and Roblin, Isabelle (ed.) A. S. Byatt, Possession, Before and After: Recent Critical Approaches Nancy Presses Universitaires de Nancy - Editions Universitaires de Lorraine. pp. 33-50

Chapter titleTime Will Tell: Time and Narrative in A. S. Byatt’s The Virgin in the Garden
AuthorsAlfer, A.
EditorsParey, Armelle
Roblin, Isabelle
Abstract

This paper discusses The Virgin in the Garden’s negotiations of time and temporality as realised through and within the novel’s intricate temporal narrative framework. It argues that The Virgin in the Garden represents both an internalising appropriation and an externalising articulation of what Paul Ricœur (1984, 52) calls the ‘interwoven reference’ of time and narrative, that is, an articulation of a process of two-fold transgression: fiction's entanglement in the realised potential of the past on the one hand, and history's eruption into the fiction of an unrealised potential of historical existence on the other hand. At the point of intersection of these two movements of transgression, Ricœur (1984: 3) sees what he calls ‘human time, a time in which the representation of time past through history merges with its fictional variations. A mapping of The Virgin in the Garden’s articulation of the complex constitutive processes of ‘human time’ not only sheds further light on Byatt’s lifelong engagement with the theoretical entanglements of representational fiction, but also functions as the very primer of the historical canvas the Frederica Quartet as a whole projects and against the backdrop of which questions of Byatt’s realist allegiance can be fruitfully explored.

Book titleA. S. Byatt, Possession, Before and After: Recent Critical Approaches
Page range33-50
Year2017
PublisherPresses Universitaires de Nancy - Editions Universitaires de Lorraine
Publication dates
Published2017
Place of publicationNancy
ISBN9782814303294

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