Imagining Characters: Six Conversations about Women Writers: Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eli OT, Willa Cather, Iris Murdoch, and T

A. S. Byatt, Author, Ignes Sodre, With
A. S. Byatt, Author, Ignes Sodre, With Vintage Books USA $16 (288p) ISBN 978-0-679-77753-3
Hardcover - 978-0-517-45247-9
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-1948-8
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When the authors of this articulate, intelligent book acknowledge that ""just talking can [add] to understanding,"" they hit on one of the secrets behind the success of today's popular book groups. For in their six dialogues about Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, Charlotte Bronte's Villette, George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, Willa Cather's The Professor's House, Iris Murdoch's The Unofficial Rose and Toni Morrison's Beloved, Byatt and Sodre invite readers into an illuminating psychoanalytic and literary discussion. Byatt (Possession) and Sodre, a Brazilian psychoanalyst, ""talk about the characters in the novels as though they were real people."" With a healthy dose of Freud, the authors put central literary characters and their creators on the therapist's couch, discussing relationships with parents and siblings, fear of marriage, female energy, self-knowledge and religion. From Austen to Morrison, the authors reveal the imagined worlds of these novels and confirm Eliot's assertion that ""art is the nearest thing to life."" Swift introduces each chapter or ""discussion"" is introduced with a brief synopsis of the novel addressed. A final chapter ties dreams to the process of creating the narrative, with Byatt allowing the reader access to her own process of interpreting her dreams and transferring them into her writing. The individual conversations make for a demanding read, for they delve rather minutely into each novel. But the persevering reader will be rewarded with an engaging interplay of ideas. (Sept.)
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