A.S. Byatt : tradition and the female talent
Enstrom, Ethel L.
Master of Arts
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A. S. Byatt commented in an interview with Juliet Dusinberre in 1983 that literature was her means of escape from "the limits of being female" (186). For other artists who are also women, art is seen as a way of escaping the restrictions imposed by the realities of their social and economic powerlessness (Spacks 206). Today, literary critical feminists would undoubtedly reverse Byatt’s statement to show the role of literature in forming those very limits from which she and many other women feel the need to escape. While Byatt would, I think, agree with Gillian Beer’s qualification in "Representing Women: Re-presenting the Past" that gender formation cannot be isolated from social and cultural forces, that there is no single source of oppression of women (68), her recognition of the role of narratives in at least partly determining the limits of being female is readily apparent in her 1990 Booker Prize-winning novel Possession.