2008 Student Research Conference:
21st Annual Student Research Conference

A Reconciliation Between Biography and Deconstruction in A. S. Byatt's Possession
Paul R. Witte
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

Described by critics as historiographic metafiction, A. S. Byatt's novel Possession (1990) questions the role of literary analysis not only in the English academic field but also as it applies to the fictional authors Byatt creates. By presenting two sets of paired characters, firstly two Victorian poets, R.H. Ash and Christabel LaMotte, constructed loosely on poets, Robert Browning and Christina Rosetti, respectively, followed by two postmodern English professors, Roland Mitchell and Maud Baily, Byatt effectively stimulates the debate between biographical analysis and a deconstructionist approach. Her use of primary biographical information combined with frequent alternations between an extreme past and present tense thoroughly demonstrates that both of these ideas are immutable yet modern theory holds that they cannot coexist. My paper will show that literature progresses through two phases of life, one of strong biographical influence, proceeded by a second where the work asserts its own identity in a constantly developing culture.

Keywords: A.S. Byatt Possession, Metafiction

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 33-4
Location: OP 2121
Time: 2:00

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