Colour Phenomenology in A. S. Byatt’s Short Stories.An exploration of the use of colour in A. S. Byatt’s short stories.

Carpenter, Donna (2019) Colour Phenomenology in A. S. Byatt’s Short Stories.An exploration of the use of colour in A. S. Byatt’s short stories. Undergraduate thesis, University of Chichester.

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Abstract

This thesis argues that the detail and significance of A. S. Byatt’s colour choices is
fascinating, though this has garnered less critical attention than her position on feminism and
her novel quartet. It explores the influences upon Byatt’s writing and specific use of colour
within her short stories. In much of her fiction Byatt uses colour intricately and purposefully;
however, it is particularly significant within her short stories owing to the limitations of the
genre.
Byatt openly discusses her love of art, artists, and other authors who discuss art,
including: Henri Matisse, J. W. Goethe, Patrick Heron, Henry James, George Eliot, D. H.
Lawrence, and Robert Browning. Byatt is interested in merging realism and naturalism with
fantasy, myth and fairy tales, and emotional romance among others. In recognising Byatt’s
literary and artistic influences, it must be understood that her detail and concern with colour
has developed over her career and that her influences may permit a renewed perspective
surrounding her colour choices.
As an explorative work, this dissertation suggests there is meaning to be found in
Byatt’s use of colour and its communicative delineation. Despite recognition of her interest in
colour, and indeed, art, this study goes further to explore the manifestations of colour in her
less critically considered short stories. Drawing upon four of Byatt’s five collections Sugar,
and other Stories (1987), The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye (1994), Elementals (1998), and
Little Black Book of Stories (2003), alongside the individual stories ‘Dolls’ Eyes’ (2008) ‘Sea
Story’ (2013), and ‘The Time Travelling Monk’ (Unpublished), I investigate how Byatt uses
colours, shadows and shades as forms of communication in her stories. A consideration of
Byatt’s colour lineage, transitions, and colour choices contribute to a deeper reading of her
stories. This dissertation investigates specifically her use of colour in her collections The
Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye and Elementals, through the stories ‘The Glass Coffin’
(previously published in Possession, 1990) and ‘A Lamia in the Cévennes’. This study then
traces chronologically the transitions in her colour phenomenology, from Sugar, and other
Stories, through to her most recent story ‘The Time Travelling Monk’. This dissertation
navigates an important, but hitherto neglected, area of study in relation to Byatt’s colour
phenomenology.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Uncontrolled Keywords: ENL304 ENL305
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Departments > English and Creative Writing
Undergraduate Dissertations
Depositing User: Wendy Ellison
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2019 12:44
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2019 12:44
URI: http://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/4824

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