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Sibylline SistersVirgil's Presence in Contemporary Women's Writing$
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Fiona Cox

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199582969

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199582969.001.0001

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A. S. Byatt

A. S. Byatt

(p.135) 7 A. S. Byatt
Sibylline Sisters

Lorna Hardwick

James I. Porter

Oxford University Press

A. S. Byatt's work has always been densely intertextual, and has always reflected the impossibility of separating artistic nourishment from lived experience. Her writing draws heavily upon writers and artists as diverse as George Eliot and Matisse, Browning and Van Gogh. One of the questions that fascinates her is probing how far characters are shaped by their relationships with books, discovering how an identity can be formed by the interplay between ‘then’ and ‘now’. Through her invented poem for a fictional poet Byatt explores the significance of Virgil to the Victorian imagination, and the legacy of that reception for subsequent readers. More broadly, her retellings of fairy tales and myth indicate her sense of being shaped by her immersion in the stories at the heart of Western culture.

Keywords:   Virgil, women writers, life experience, women poets, women's poetry, Western culture

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