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The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye by A. S.…
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The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye (1994)

by A. S. Byatt

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English (11)  French (1)  All languages (12)
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Four short fairy tales followed by the title fairy tale novella, The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye.

This is the first book that I have read by A S Byatt, and I can see how she achieved her popularity. The tales are wonderfully and beautifully told by a true wordsmith. (Isn't that how fairy tales should be!).

One of my favorites was The Eldest Princess. Eldest children are often given short shrift in fairy tales and fail their tasks, which are eventually accomplished by the youngest child. In this story, the Princess realizes that she inhabits such a story, but refuses to follow the plot and makes her own way.

Although I enjoyed the title piece The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye, I dislike the framing of this one. In it, a storyteller goes to a convention of storytellers in Instanbul and we hear several of their tales. Then, wandering through a bazaar, our storyteller purchases a rare and beautiful bottle and steps into her own story. To me, the first stories told by the other tellers of tales seem superfluous, almost as if they were added in to make the Djinn story longer.

Still, I'm looking forward to the next A. S. Byatt that I will read. ( )
  streamsong | Apr 18, 2018 |
"The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye" is the second book by A.S. Byatt I've read this year. I enjoyed it as much as "The Children's Book," which means I hope to read her masterwork "Possession" in the near future.

"Djinn" is a collection of stories -- four short stories and the title story, which is novella length. They are fairy tales with a twist and most are lovely. I thought the title story was the weakest -- it wanders a lot before getting around to the interesting bits. By far, the strongest was "The Story of the Eldest Princess," which was a clever take on the fate of the oldest adventurers who set out on a quest.

I like the way Byatt writes for the most part, though sometimes she gets a big bogged down in tangential stuff that admittedly sometimes brings up an interesting observation. This book overall was a fun little batch of stories. ( )
  amerynth | Nov 20, 2016 |
I read this for the Mythic Fiction book group here on Goodreads, but never got around to going and posting about it over there...

A collection of 5 stories - 4 very short, and one novella-length (the title story). The first 4 stories were excellent - but 4.5 stars for the first half of the book, and 2 stars for the second half (actually, it's a little more than half) averages out to 3.

The Glass Coffin -
A humble tailor granted magical gifts, a sleeping princess, an enchanted prince, an evil magician and a happy ending. The familiar elements meshed together by Byatt's exquisite writing create a fresh story which could have come straight from a 19th-century book of fairy tales.


Gode's Story -
A handsome young sailor's careless ways come back to haunt him - literally - in this tragedy.


The Story of the Eldest Princess -
In a kingdom with three Princesses, an unexplained phenomena occurs - the sky turns green. The eldest princess heads out on a quest to discover the reason for this change, and to turn the sky back to blue. On the road, she encounters some elements that you might expect from a quest story - and some things that you might not.


Dragon's Breath -
A village is plagued by dragons (?) that sap the will and rob life of meaning. More allegorical-feeling than the others, but a thoughtful and lovely tale.


The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye -
This is the one, sadly, that I really didn't like at all. This clearly semi-autobiographical story of a modern "narratologist" who meets a ridiculously handsome djinn-in-a-bottle, and, of course, grants her three wishes, just felt self-indulgent, annoyingly metafictional, and rather dull.


Overall, the book left me with the same feelings I've had about most of Byatt's work - except here my positive and negative feelings were sharply divided. Usually the brilliantly lovely parts and the dull parts of her books are more intertwined.

I did love the selection of nineteenth-century illustrations as headers for each story.

( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
This was at the tale end of my "I am ill therefore I require magic" phase last month. It's a book of short stories, so I can pick it up again any time. I just am easing away from fairy tales at the moment and will come back when I want to read some beautifully crafted fairy myth. ( )
  eldashwood | Apr 17, 2013 |
Rating: 3.5 of 5

Of the five stories in The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye I enjoyed "The Story of the Eldest Princess" and "The Glass Coffin" the most. However, the other three were just okay. ( )
  flying_monkeys | Apr 8, 2013 |
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For Cevat Capan
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There was once a little tailor, a good and unremarkable man, who happened to be journeying through a forest, in search of work perhaps, for in those days men travelled great distances to make a meagre living ...
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She had hated the stories of St Paul and the other apostles because they
were true, they were told to her as true stories, and this somehow stopped
off some essential imaginative involvement with them, probably because she
didn't believe them, if required to believe they were true.

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679762221, Paperback)

"Once upon a time," A.S. Byatt's title fairy story begins, "when men and women hurtled through the air on metal wings, when they wore webbed feet and walked on the bottom of the sea, learning the speech of whales and the songs of the dolphins ... there was a woman who was largely irrelevant, and therefore happy. Her business was storytelling..." But this is no backward looking, quaint fairy time. The time is the present, and the protagonist is a sensible scholar who is given the not-at-all sensible gift of a genie. How will Gillian, an expert in fairy stories and well versed in all that can go wrong with wishes, use hers?

Distinguished British author and Booker Prize-winner A.S. Byatt creates fairy tales for adults, each a blend of the magical and the modern, and readers of Angels & Insects and Possession will recognize the role of Victorian fairy tales in her fiction. This handsome little book includes reproductions of woodcuts that evoke our childhood wonder for dragons and princesses, glass coffins and netherworldly things.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:12 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A collection of fairy tales for adults. The title novella is on a middle-aged Englishwoman attending a writers' conference in Turkey. She picks up an antique bottle and as she is washing it a djinn appears, offering to grant her three wishes. She asks for a younger body, then requests he make love to her.… (more)

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