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Angels And Insects by A S Byatt
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Angels And Insects (original 1992; edition 1993)

by A S Byatt (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,172337,486 (3.56)95
These two fascinating novellas, like A.S. Byatt's Booker Prize-winning novel Possession, are set in the mid-nineteenth century, weaving fact and fiction, reality and romance. "Morpho Eugenia" is a lively Gothic fable of the Earthly Paradise, of the Victorian obsession with Darwinian theories of breeding and sexuality and the parallels between insect and human society - the capture and taming of nature, whether it be a young woman in a country house or a rare butterfly, gleaming in the forests of the Amazon. "The Conjugial Angel" concerns Tennyson's In Memoriam, published in 1850, mourning the death seventeen years before of his friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who was engaged to Tennyson's sister Emily. A philosophical ghost story, bizarre, comic, and moving, in which fictive mediums meet "real" characters, it explores the contemporary preoccupation with God and life after death. Resonant, magical, entirely original, this is A.S. Byatt at her best.… (more)
Member:harrisoncotis
Title:Angels And Insects
Authors:A S Byatt (Author)
Info:Vintage (1993), Edition: New edition, 304 pages
Collections:Drama/Fiction, Your library
Rating:
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Work Information

Angels & Insects by A.S. Byatt (1992)

  1. 21
    A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh (lisanicholas)
    lisanicholas: Although it develops different themes than Byatt's Morpho Eugenia (the "insects" novella in Angels & Insects), like Byatt's work Waugh's A Handful of Dust also deals with the bestial crudity that can lie under the veneer of conventional English gentility.… (more)
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» See also 95 mentions

English (32)  Italian (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
I just finished the novella collection, ‘Angels & Insects’ by AS Byatt, which is a bind up of two novellas; Morpho Eugenia and Conjugial Angel. Both stories are set in Victorian England (like the poet plot in ‘Possession’) and employ many of the same storytelling devices and themes that I enjoyed so much in ‘Possession’, in new and interesting ways.

Morpho Eugenia focuses a lot on science and the juxtaposition of science and religion. It follows a scientific explorer after his research is destroyed in a shipwreck. He goes to stay with a wealthy family where he catalogues their collection of specimens and he falls in love with the beautiful daughter. While there he helps with the younger children’s lessons and begins observing the ant population. It has an almost gothic vibe to it, and deals with a dark revelation. Even though I saw it coming, and you might say it’s “too long”, because like ‘Possession’ it goes off on tangents and quotes poetry and even contains a story within the novella, the atmosphere is just so enjoyable. I love her writing and am happy to experience it, wherever it goes.

Another thing I noticed was that this style she uses reminds me a lot of classics I’ve really enjoyed, like ‘The Picture of Dorian Grey’ or ‘A Room with a View’. There are conversations between characters that explore opposing viewpoints on a theme or ruminate on an idea for multiple pages. Her works have that feeling and it works so well within the setting.

Conjugial Angel is about mediums and seances and connection through death. Full disclosure I thought I would prefer this one, but it didn’t quite hit for me. I still enjoyed her writing and some of the moments, and ideas presented.

As I said in my ‘Possession” review, these just won’t be for everyone… but if it works, I think you’ll really enjoy the time you spend here. The next books I have of AS Byatt’s to work my way through is that Frederica Quartet which is set in the 60s and 70s. So it should be a little different, and I’m excited to see what changes in her style. BUT I’m waiting a bit before I start it, as each book is quite long. ( )
  jo_lafaith | Sep 26, 2023 |
Byatt does it again. ( )
  mykl-s | Aug 12, 2023 |
First story is great - fun natural history and nice Gothic twist; second story has some interesting characters but oh, god, enough with the endless quoting of Tennyson! ( )
  ranaverde | Jan 4, 2023 |
The first Novella was amazing... ( )
  jaydenmccomiskie | Sep 27, 2021 |
two sections one about botanist who discovers his wife incest with brother, one on séance and contact with dead friend of Tennyson
  ritaer | Aug 24, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
A.S. Byattprimary authorall editionscalculated
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walz, MelanieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Jean-Louis Chevalier
First words
"You must dance, Mr Adamson", said Lady Alabaster from her sofa.
Quotations
`I have made a beautiful display - a kind of quilt, or embroidery almost - out of some of the earlier specimens [of butterflies] you sent my father. I have pinned them out very carefully - they are exquisitely pretty - they give a little the effect of a scalloped cushion, only their colours are more subtle than any silks could be.'
Alfred had been faithful, as she [Emily] had not.... She believed that in "In Memoriam" she stood accused.... it aimed a burning dart at her very heart, it strove to annihilate her ... Her small ghost appeared from time to time in the poem ... "Poor child that waitest for thy love!" ... Alfred had passed over her own inconvenient wedding to celebrate that of her sister Cecelia.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Contains two novellas: 'Eugenia Morpho' and 'The Conjugal Angel'. Not to be combined with single editions of either story.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

These two fascinating novellas, like A.S. Byatt's Booker Prize-winning novel Possession, are set in the mid-nineteenth century, weaving fact and fiction, reality and romance. "Morpho Eugenia" is a lively Gothic fable of the Earthly Paradise, of the Victorian obsession with Darwinian theories of breeding and sexuality and the parallels between insect and human society - the capture and taming of nature, whether it be a young woman in a country house or a rare butterfly, gleaming in the forests of the Amazon. "The Conjugial Angel" concerns Tennyson's In Memoriam, published in 1850, mourning the death seventeen years before of his friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who was engaged to Tennyson's sister Emily. A philosophical ghost story, bizarre, comic, and moving, in which fictive mediums meet "real" characters, it explores the contemporary preoccupation with God and life after death. Resonant, magical, entirely original, this is A.S. Byatt at her best.

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