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Extra resources for A.S. Byatt: Critical Storytelling
Qxd 24/09/2010 13:23 Page 19 Fathers, sisters and the anxiety of influence 1111 2 3 4 5111 6 7 8 9 10111 11 2 3111 4 5 6 7 8 9 20111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40111 19 Ostensibly, and at the most basic level, the conflict negotiated in the scene between Henry and Oliver is one between creativity and criticism, ‘seeing’ and ‘thinking’, writing and reading, synthetic versus analytical ways of imagining and perceiving the world. Discussed in explicitly aesthetic terms that pit a holistically inspired symbolism against a socially committed realism, however, this conflict also reflects the historical split between Romanticism and realism that has not only run between and within authors from the nineteenth century onwards but that has also significantly shaped our ways of discussing evolving reading and writing practices since that time.
Snakes are absolutely weighed down with meanings for the average man – you kept referring to them quite naturally on your programmes – death and rebirth, evil and healing, water and light, oh, you know, and sex, look at your Freud. . Now, why shouldn’t the thing itself really “mean” something? Since it has had these mythical meanings through the ages, why do we suppose science is the only truthful way of approaching it? . It seems to me as much a pathetic fallacy to pretend we can have an impersonal and neutral relationship with – Nature – that it’s entirely alien – as to pretend it simply reflects our passing moods.
It’s filling its own stomach. We don’t know what it feels like. It’s simply there. ’ ‘Simon –’ said Julia urgently. ‘Scientific knowledge –’ said Simon, ‘the thing itself –’ Percy burst into speech. ‘No, honestly, you can’t get away with that. I mean, with all this rubbish about the pathetic fallacy. Snakes are absolutely weighed down with meanings for the average man – you kept referring to them quite naturally on your programmes – death and rebirth, evil and healing, water and light, oh, you know, and sex, look at your Freud.