Palimpsestic writing and crossing textual boundaries in selected novels by A.S. Byatt
Van der Westhuizen, Therina
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This dissertation examines three novels by the author and critic A.S. Byatt, namely Possession (1990), Babel Tower (1996) and The Biographer’s Tale (2000), using a hermeneutic method of analysis. The investigation pays specific attention to the structure of the novels and how this compares to the structure of the ancient palimpsest. Theoretical information on the palimpsest as model is based on relevant writings by Thomas Carlyle (1830, 1833), Thomas De Quincey (1845) through to Josephine McDonagh (1987), Gérard Genette (1997) and Sarah Dillon (2007). The ensuing argument is that Byatt’s use of postmodernist pseudo-intertextuality and intertextuality cause her novels to have a palimpsestic structure of various layers, with the effect that textual boundaries are transgressed. Ultimately Byatt’s writing strategies result in ontological uncertainty for the reader.
- Humanities