The Biographer's Tale
By A.S. Byatt
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375725081, 320pp.)
Publication Date: December 4, 2001
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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From the award-winning author of Possession comes an ingenious novel about love and literary sleuthing: a dazzling fiction woven out of one man’s search for fact.
Here is the story of Phineas G. Nanson, a disenchanted graduate student who decides to escape the world of postmodern literary theory and immerse himself in the messiness of “real life” by writing a biography of a great biographer. In a series of adventures that are by turns intellectual and comic, scientific and sensual, Phineas tracks his subject to the deserts of Africa and the maelstrom of the Arctic. Along the way he comes to rely on two women, one of whom may be the guide he needs out of the dizzying labyrinth of his research and back into his own life. A tantalizing yarn of detection and desire, The Biographer’s Tale is a provocative look at “truth” in biography and our perennial quest for certainty.
A.S. Byatt is the author of the novels Possession (winner of the Booker Prize in 1990), The Game, and the sequence The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, and Babel Tower. She has also written two novellas, published together as Angels and Insects, and four collections of shorter works, including The Matisse Stories and The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye. Educated at Cambridge, she was a senior lecturer in English at University College, London, before becoming a full-time writer in 1983. A distinguished critic as well as a novelist, she lives in London.
“Elegant . . .witty . . . intelligent.” –The Washington Post
“A tenderly funny novel. . . .One of Byatt’s most exuberant books.” –The Baltimore Sun
“Wise, sharp-witted. . . . miss it at your peril.”–St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“An impressive achievement, a literary mosaic at once exotic, academic, esoteric, engaging, and disconcerting. . . . A feast for the brain” –The Denver Post
“One of Byatt’s most exuberant books.”–The Baltimore Sun