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A Whistling Woman av A. S. Byatt
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A Whistling Woman (urspr publ 2002; utgåvan 2004)

av A. S. Byatt (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
831719,288 (3.91)16
"The triumphant conclusion to Byatt's quartet depicting the clashing forces in English life from the early 1950s to 1970. While Frederica - the spirited heroine of THE VIRGIN IN THE GARDEN, STILL LIFE and BABEL TOWER - falls almost by accident into a career in television in London, tumultuous events in her home county of Yorkshire threaten to change her life, and those of the people she loves. In the late 1960s the world begins to split. Near the university, where the scientists Luk and Jacqueline are studying snails and neurones and the working of the brain, an 'anti-university' springs up. On the high moors nearby, a gentle therapeutic community is taken over by a turbulent, charismatic leader. Visions of blood and flames, of mirrors and doubles, share the refracting energy of Frederica's mosaic-like television shows. The languages of religion, myth and fairy-tale overlap with the terms of science and the new computer age. Darkness and light are in perpetual tension and the meaning of love itself seems to vanish; people flounder - often comically - to find their true sexual, intellectual and emotional identity."… (mer)
Medlem:Phyllis.Mann
Titel:A Whistling Woman
Författare:A. S. Byatt (Författare)
Info:Vintage (2004), Edition: Reprint, 448 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:****
Taggar:fiction

Verkdetaljer

A Whistling Woman av A.S. Byatt (Author) (2002)

  1. 10
    Still Life av A. S. Byatt (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both novels are about Frederica Potter.
  2. 10
    Babelstornet : roman av A. S. Byatt (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both novels feature Frederica Potter.
  3. 10
    The Virgin in the Garden av A. S. Byatt (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both novels feature Frederica Potter.
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» Se även 16 omnämnanden

Visa 1-5 av 7 (nästa | visa alla)
The fourth of the Frederica novels brings us to 1968-1969, and into a whole series of parallel discussions and debates that were going on in biology, psychology, theology, computer science, linguistics, sociology and philosophy (...at least!) about what we mean by concepts like "mind" and "consciousness" and human identity. Frederica is at one of the focal points of this, in her new role as host of an Ideas programme on the Box; Vice-Chancellor Wijnnobel and his new University are at another, in a weird pairing with the radicals and hippies who have set up an Anti-University in a nearby field; and a third, most intense focus for all this intellectual energy is formed by a vaguely Manichaean religious cult that has grown out of the harmless Quaker-led forum, the Spirit's Tigers, which we met in the last book.

The irony, as Frederica notes, is that contrary to everything Dr Leavis taught her, the one thing that doesn't seem to be playing any important role at all in all this scientific-philosophical-religious upheaval is English literature. D H Lawrence is out, Freud and Jung and Chomsky are in. Frederica's own book, Laminations, has aroused interest only among literary journalists (who like having the photo of a TV celebrity to put over their columns), whilst Agatha's Tolkienesque fantasy story Flight North has been ignored by reviewers but turns into a phenomenal word-of-mouth success.

There's a huge amount to take in here, and it's thrown at us so fast that it's easy to get lost. There is still plenty of comedy along the way, but it's offset by our awareness that there are some very bad things going on, and vulnerable people are obviously going to get hurt, especially in the cult and among the student rebels. So it's not as much fun to read as Babel Tower, but still very worthwhile. ( )
  thorold | Oct 13, 2020 |
In the end a satisfying conclusion to the Frederica Potter series. I feel like 1/3 of the book could have been cut though. There is a big plot that is built up only to end in tragedy and a lot of characters I did not care about. But I guess it paid off in the end. ( )
  bostonbibliophile | Sep 6, 2018 |
excellent, but quite demanding ( )
  pepe68 | Sep 22, 2014 |
A great book.

My only real complaint is that Byatt doesn't show what happens when the police break up the demonstration at the variously titled NYU or UNY (North Yorkshire University). She's led us to despise the spiritualist, romantic, medievalist, Tolkienite excesses of the late 60s American/European student movement, while, yes, complicating matters somewhat by witnessing to its responsibility for the incipient animal liberation movement and cui bono critiques of reason. But when the students and their comrades assault NYU/UNY, smashing Elizabethan artifacts, vandalizing public sculpture, burning down ancient manors, stupidly demanding an end to the requirement that its students learn, all for their undergraduate degree, another language, math, and the humanities,* when they sing Ent-songs and psychedelic lyrics, give astrology lectures, and basically nauseate thinking people, by which I mean me, it would have been important to complicate all this by showing the police cracking their heads. Some readers would have cheered that on, too, but I suspect most would have felt accused by the sight of the foundations of their liberal world, revealed.

Instead we get some lovemaking.

* see this excellent point, where Frederica attends an interdisciplinary conference on the mind: "Frederica had expected to find these literary papers the most interesting. She had grown up in the narrow British educational system which divides like a branching tree, and predestines all thirteen-year-olds to be either illiterate or innumerate (if not both). She had grown up with the assumption that be literary is to be quick, perceptive and subtle. Whereas scientists were dull, and also--in the nuclear age--quite possibly dangerous and destructive. She thought of F. R. Leavis's Education and the University, which she had studied, and which had said that the English Department was at the centre of any educational endeavour. This suddenly seemed, as she listened to [D.H.:] Lawrence's dangerous nonsense abstracted from Lawrence's lively drama and held up for approval, to be nothing more than a Darwinian jockeying for advantage, a territorial snarl and dash.

What was important, she thought, is to defend reason against unreason." ( )
  karl.steel | Apr 2, 2013 |
Briljant, deze vier boeken over Frederica. Met elk boek wordt het beter, hoewel ik deel 1 nog wel een keertje wil lezen. Ongelofelijk knap geschreven, jammer dat ik aan het eind van de serie ben gekomen, ( )
  elsmvst | Aug 3, 2012 |
Visa 1-5 av 7 (nästa | visa alla)
A Whistling Woman is the final book in the Frederica Quartet. It continues the story of Frederica Potter and the rest of the Potter clan, along with a whole host of other interesting characters, including Frederica‟s lover computer programmer John Ottokar and his twin Paul-Zag, the scientists Luk Lysgaard-Peacock and Jacqueline Winwar, Vice-Chancellor of the North Yorkshire University Sir Gerard Wijnnobel, lysergic-acid-dropping psychiatrist Elvet Gander, rabble-rouser Jonty Surtrees, and the charismatic Manichean Josh Lamb/Joshua Ramsden, who sees blood dripping from everything. Julia Corbett and Simon Moffitt, from Byatt‟s previous novel The Game, are also mentioned briefly.
 
By far the strongest parts of ''A Whistling Woman'' have to do with the unfolding drama of a Quaker therapeutic community called the Spirit's Tigers, which is gradually taken over and turned into a religious cult by a former mental patient named Joshua Lamb, who, while still a ''plump, pitiable boy,'' witnessed his father's murder of his mother and sister. Byatt's writing about Lamb's gradual descent into self-protective madness and the way in which unbearable personal trauma becomes organized into a lunatically meaningful philosophical system is superb, and demonstrates the empathic powers that are available to her every bit as much as her daunting intellectual reach.
''A Whistling Woman'' is defiantly not for everyone, especially since Byatt is less concerned with keeping the reader happy than with keeping her eye on the vast prospect before her, and the larger arc of her vision is hard to keep in sight even if you're familiar with the three earlier novels.
tillagd av KayCliff | ändraNew York Times, Daphne Merkin (Jan 19, 2003)
 
The broad sweep of Byatt’s literary and intellectual enquiry is undoubtedly impressive. There’s a section where Frederica refers to her own previous books which had been described by reviewers as "irritatingly clever". It’s clearly a reference to some of Byatt’s previous books that have received similar criticism. But the problem is not that A Whistling Woman is clever - the more clever writers the better. The problem is that her subject matter and her ‘cleverness’ are not always integrated into the narrative. Thus, although the novel comes in at over 400 pages, its narrative could be contained in considerably less.
tillagd av KayCliff | ändraThe Scotsman (Sep 22, 2002)
 
With A Whistling Woman, A S Byatt concludes one of the grandest and most ambitious fictional projects anyone has undertaken since the war.... Now that it is complete, the cycle seems contained by one unchanging imaginative concept; this volume clarifies the intellectual structure of the whole cycle.
tillagd av KayCliff | ändraThe Spectator, Philip Hensher (Sep 7, 2002)
 
Whatever the eventual failures of A Whistling Woman and of the tetralogy as a whole, its massive ambition can never be called into question. Rejecting sensation and attitude, Byatt has instead explored sense and thought, and the problematic notion of how they can possibly be represented in fiction. And like the characters here whose ideas prefigure the search for a Theory of Everything, she has attempted to create a kind of fictional unity that few other writers could even imagine. Watching it break apart, one senses, is just as interesting for her as watching it struggle to cohere. For her readers, this is not always the case, but it's a very close-run thing.
tillagd av KayCliff | ändraThe Guardian, Alex Clark (Sep 7, 2002)
 
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". . . he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a highprice for living too long with a single dream. He must have looked up at anunfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts,breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about . . . like that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees."
Frederica admired this passage [from The Great Gatsby], and had made tidy notes on it, as the culmination of her lecture. Note, she had said, the implications for American literature, of the phrase about the 'new world', 'material without being real'. Note, she had written, that Gatsby has created his whole world out of his Platonic idea of himself; his romantic dream, and it is disintegrating.
But as she read it out, she caught the full force of the achieved simplicity of every word in that perfectly created paragraph about destruction, that perfectly, easily coherent paragraph about disintegration. She felt something she had always supposed was mythical, the fine hairs on the back of her neck rising and pricking in a primitive response to a civilised perfection, body recognising mind.
She stopped in mid-sentence, and began again, urgently. Look, she told them, I've just really seen how good this paragraph is. Think about the adjectives, how simple they look, how right every single one is, out of all the adjectives that could have been chosen. Look at 'unfamiliar' and think about a man who had made up his own heaven and earth, who was his own family. Look at 'frightening leaves' which are flatly bald and menacing, but lightly so. 'What a grotesque thing a rose is.' The idea of intricate natural perfection undone in one atmospheric and one psychological adjective which is also an ancient aesthetic adjective.
And then, 'raw' describing sunlight where did he find that? Raw is cold, not heated, raw is bare and open, raw is unripe and with 'scarcely created' it suggests a virgin world either at the shivering beginning or the end of time, when it doesn't hold together. And from these sensuous adjectives grotesque, raw we move to mental ones new, material, not real and the solid creation disintegrates into phantasmagoria, fimtasms, ghosts, dreams like air, not even really air, and then finally, the wonderful rendering of shapelessness, the 'amorphous' trees.
And if you use the negative Greek word, amorphous, you carry with it all the positive Greek words for shape, and form, metamorphosis, morphology, Morpheus the God of Sleep. What Fitzgerald has done, quickly, briefly, and clearly, is to undo what art and literature have done over and over again, the image of the human mind at home in the beauty of the created garden, with the forms of trees and the colour of the sky and the grass, and the intricate natural beauty of the rose.
Frederica stared almost wildly at the class, which stared back at her, and then smiled, a common smile of pleasure and understanding. For the rest of her life, she came back and back to this moment, the change in the air, the pricking of the hairs, of *really reading* every word of something she had believed she 'knew'. And at that moment, she knew what she should do was teach, for what she understood - the thing she was both by accident and by inheritance constructed to understand - was the setting of words in order, to make worlds, to make ideas.
The play [The Winter's Tale] swept on, and broke into the irritating little runnels of scenes in which the greatest of playwrights evaded the recognitions, reparations, climax, everyone had a right to expect, and fobbed off his audience with oratio obliqua, reported speech, when the father met the lovely living daughter who replaced both his dead son, and her exposed infant self, for whom he had mourned for sixteen unstaged years. What a mess, Frederica thought. "I can see why he did it, and we find ways to excuse it, because it is what HE did, but WHAT A MESS --"
When his pencil broke, Hodgkiss gave him his own pen, and watched him adjust his grip, test the slant of the nib and the flow of the ink. It was a stubby, mottled pen, black and midnight-blue. It produced, in Marcus's grip, a string of spider-webs, of ghosts of branches, of shapes like the graduated spines on the fish skeletons.
It was a good poem. It was an uncompromising description of elemental solids - snow, water, ice, iron, stone, with the adjective at work, bleak. And, Frederica thought, the wind moaned, which is a human sound, and there was the woman with the boy child. The earth moaning. And then, infinity.
.... Lovely, lovely, economical words, Frederica thought, fast, fast. Sustain is perfect. The earth can't either hold him up, or keep Him alive. ... Frederica, exalted by Rossetti's hard absolute words ...
In his garden he found a whole clump of Honesty. Perennial honesty, Lunaria rediviva, was fragrant; this was the biennial, L. biennis, a garden fugitive. The membrane inside the seed-case, polished and exposed, was like transparent oculi of parchment, or abalone shell. He spent some time rubbing off the seeds, and creating wands of fragile, translucent windows. The French called them monnaie des papes.
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"The triumphant conclusion to Byatt's quartet depicting the clashing forces in English life from the early 1950s to 1970. While Frederica - the spirited heroine of THE VIRGIN IN THE GARDEN, STILL LIFE and BABEL TOWER - falls almost by accident into a career in television in London, tumultuous events in her home county of Yorkshire threaten to change her life, and those of the people she loves. In the late 1960s the world begins to split. Near the university, where the scientists Luk and Jacqueline are studying snails and neurones and the working of the brain, an 'anti-university' springs up. On the high moors nearby, a gentle therapeutic community is taken over by a turbulent, charismatic leader. Visions of blood and flames, of mirrors and doubles, share the refracting energy of Frederica's mosaic-like television shows. The languages of religion, myth and fairy-tale overlap with the terms of science and the new computer age. Darkness and light are in perpetual tension and the meaning of love itself seems to vanish; people flounder - often comically - to find their true sexual, intellectual and emotional identity."

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