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The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye (1994)

by A.S. Byatt

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,2551611,526 (3.87)56
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)
  1. 30
    Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt (aces)
  2. 10
    Oriental Tales by Marguerite Yourcenar (nillacat)
    nillacat: Yourcenar's stories are sadder and more bitter than Byatt's, so be prepared. But they are hauntingly beautiful.
  3. 01
    Die entführte Prinzessin, Von Drachen, Liebe und anderen Ungeheuern by Karen Duve (JuliaMaria)

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» See also 56 mentions

English (15)  French (1)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Intellectual fairy tales, in Byatt’s characteristically lush language. The longest, eponymous tale is a modern-day fable, but even more enchanting for being so. ( )
  Charon07 | Jul 16, 2021 |
Lucid, poetical, mysterious, and appealing. The title story, a nest of stories and a meditation on the nature of story and on the roles of men and women in the world, is a marvel. Some of Byatt's images strike horror into my heart in a way no other writer's images can, and she can move my contrary heart to joy unlike any other writer, as well. The other stories are gemlike as well. I particularly liked "The Eldest Princess." ( )
  dmturner | Jun 29, 2020 |
Read 2017. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 8, 2020 |
If you like storytelling, if you enjoy Italo Calvino or Borges or Neil Gaiman, you will love this little book of tales. Each is a perfect little postmodern fairy-tale, charming, frightening or enlightening. The tone is illustrated nicely by the Tale of the Eldest Princess, who, realizing she is in a story and not liking the role she is playing ("I do not want to be the princess who fails and must be rescued" and she cries), decides, after much reflection and with the brusque encouragement of a dangerous guide, to leave the road and abandon the story and create her own. Along the way she sees sometimes an old woman walking behind her, or ahead of her on the path. Much later she learns that there is always an old woman ahead of you or behind you... and I'm sure she will someday be the old woman to another young woman who chooses to make her own path. ( )
  nillacat | Jul 29, 2019 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Byatt, A.S.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chevalier, Jean-LouisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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 ...
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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Wikipedia in English


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.

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Book description
  • A Glass Coffin
  • Gode's Story
  • The Story of the Eldest Princess
  • Dragons' Breath
  • The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye
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Average: (3.87)
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