The Biographer's TaleBook - 2001
From the award-winning author ofPossessionandAngels and Insectscomes an ingenious new novel about love and literary sleuthing: a dazzling fiction woven out of one man's search for fact. It tells the story of Phineas G. Nanson, a disenchanted young 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. For what could be more real than biography, the "art of things, of arranged facts"? But Phineas quickly discovers that facts can be unreliable, and a "whole life" hard to find. No matter how hard he tries, he unearths only fragments--disconnected manuscripts, bones and husks, strands of poetry, boxes of marbles, undated photographs. How does one put together the idea of a person? Phineas tracks his subjects' journeys to the deserts of Africa and the maelstroms of the Arctic in a series of adventures that are by turns intellectual and comic, scientific and erotic. He meets others who are building wholes from bits and pieces: a beautiful radiographer, ecologists, anthropologists, even travel agents offering the trip of your dreams. But they seem only to make his task more difficult. And as he tries to sort through the cabinet of curiosities that is the past, he must also decide his own future, and face the most difficult puzzle of all: which woman will guide him out of this dizzying labyrinth and back into his own life? WithThe Biographer's Tale, A. S. Byatt--hailed by theNew York Times Book Reviewas "a storyteller who could keep a sultan on the edge of his throne for 1,001 nights"--asks provocative questions about our perennial quest for certainty, about "truth" in biography, about the nature of the imagination and the meaning of meaning, even as she spins a tantalizing yarn of detection and desire.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2001, c2000
Edition: 1st American ed
Characteristics: 305 p. : ill., ports. ; 22 cm