> Skip to content

In this witty, Borges-like fiction, A.S.Byatt weaves a dazzling fiction out of one man's search for fact. Fed up with stultifying criticism, Phineas G decides to study the messiness of 'real life' Doing nothing by halves he sets out to write a biography of a great biographer. But a 'whole life' is hard to find. How do we put the idea of a person together? Everywhere he looks he finds fragments and gaps: bones and husks, oxes of marbles, collections of coins and undated postcards. Trails run cold and mysteries are unresolved.
Phineas feels he is hunting shadows Like a shaman flying across the globe, his mind tracks the journeys of his subjects to the deserts of Africa and the maelstroms of the Arctic, where the shapes of myth meet the patterns of science. He meets others building wholes from bits and pieces: taxonomists, ecologists to trave; agents offering the trip of your dreams. In the process he also puzzles out his own future - but which woman will guide him out of the labyrinth?

Reviews

This novel takes the reader somewhere rare and high

Financial Times

A voluptuous tale

Sunday Times

Awesome

Daily Mail

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780099283935

    June 1, 2001

    Vintage

    272 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au