The Biographer's Tale
Phineas G. Nanson, a disillusioned post-graduate student, decides to leave his abstract studies and pursue a seemingly concrete task: to write a biography of a great biographer. But Phineas quickly discovers that facts can be unreliable ...more
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 writings ...more
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 ...more
In The Biographer’s Tale we have A S Byatt, critic, novelist and onetime academic writing in the first person as Phineas G Nanson. We ...more
The Biographer's Tale follows Phineas G. Nanson from the abstraction of graduate school to the discovery of wonder in the natural world. "...the vision of these very real, chattering birds said to me... that the ...more
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 ...more
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 of ...more
There will be ...more
Plus, cool cover.
Up to about the halfway point, I was utterly charmed. Besotted, even. Phineas Nanson (I was a bit ...more
In any case, I liked the postmoderny vibe and the meta parts ...more
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 ...more
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. ...more
This 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...more