> Skip to content
  • Published: 22 October 2018
  • ISBN: 9781473520516
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 112

Portraits In Fiction



A lively, fascinating and sumptuously illustrated exploration of the links between fiction, writers of fiction and portraits by one of the most admired writers of modern fiction.

Portraits seem the opposite of fiction, fixed in time and space, not running with the curve of a story or a life. Yet since the birth of the novel, writers have been fascinated by portraits as icons, as motifs, as images of character and evocations of past time. A. S. Byatt delves into the complex relations between portraits and characters, and between portraits and novels as whole works of art. Her authors range from Henry James to Iris Murdoch, her artists from Holbein to Botticelli, Manet to the present day. She looks at the way writers use portraits to conjure up the past, as in Ford Madox Ford's The Fifth Queen and Virginia Woolf's Orlando. She explores their erotic use, the idea of painting as a sexual act, full of danger. And she examines the creation of fictional portrait painters by writers like Balzac and Zola, whose writing was closely linked, in different ways to the art of Cézanne. A portrait can defy the process of age but its very stillness can also seem like death. Art can be a murderer. And sometimes, as in Salman Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh, a portrait can itself become the victim of Gothic rage.

  • Published: 22 October 2018
  • ISBN: 9781473520516
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 112

About the author

A S Byatt

A.S. Byatt is a novelist, short-story writer and critic of international renown. Her novels include Possession (winner of the Booker Prize 1990), the Frederica Quartet and The Children’s Book, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction. She was appointed CBE in 1990 and DBE in 1999, and was awarded the Erasmus Prize 2016 for her ‘inspiring contribution to life writing’ and the Pak Kyongni Prize 2017. In 2018 she received the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award.

Also by A S Byatt

See all

Related titles