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06 July 2016 @ 03:04 pm
Byatt book (half) on William Morris  
A.S. Byatt has written a nonfiction book about William Morris and Mariano Fortuny (I'm only familiar with the former):


I haven't read as much Byatt as I ought, probably (loved and have reread Possession; read The Virgin in the Garden but didn't seek out the other books of the Frederica Potter quartet). At one point I started reading The Children's Book, but partway through I realized that while it wasn't quite making me want to stick with the novel, it was making me want to read about William Morris and Edwardian children's book authors. So…I might want to read half of this new book?

(I always feel like I ought to know a lot more than I do about William Morris - not that this would be hard, because I hardly know anything about him. I did a research paper in college on Victorian uses of Arthurian imagery, so of course he popped up a bit there, but he got drowned out by Tennyson and the PRB. And I can recognize a Morris wallpaper pattern easily enough - once I visited the Evergreens, the home of Emily Dickinson's brother and wife Susan, when they'd opened it up for visits, and there were scraps of original Morris wallpaper still on the walls, and this was very exciting. I've looked at some of his stuff in the V&A, and I'm still disappointed that I've never had a chance to eat in the William Morris dining room there, because it's been full every time I've gone to the museum. But that's not much. So I feel as if I ought to make up for it, somehow. I don't know why I feel this way, though. There are tons of things in the world that I don't know anything about, after all.)
La Reine Noire: Victorian Fanlareinenoire on July 7th, 2016 01:56 pm (UTC)
I got through The Virgin in the Garden by the skin of my teeth. I confess I found Frederica insufferable and irritating, although I don't remember why now. I did read The Children's Book but it didn't consume me the way Possession did. I don't know what it is about that particular book. (Also, I need to reread it, but that's neither here nor there.)

I may need to pick up the Morris book, though. I am somewhat familiar with Fortuny, if only because I keep running across "Fortuny pleats" when reading about turn-of-the-century fashion. ;)
tempestsarekind: princess elizabethtempestsarekind on July 7th, 2016 04:26 pm (UTC)
I seem to remember liking everything in The Virgin in the Garden that was about the play they were putting together about Elizabeth I, and not really liking the rest of it. :) But I also read it just after I'd read Possession for the first time, which was probably the worst time to read anything else by Byatt! It's so much its own thing, and practically designed to be a book that I would love. Perhaps it's not fair to expect Byatt to have written anything else with that kind of pull for me. I do keep meaning to give some of her fairy tales a try one of these days, though.

negothicknegothick on July 8th, 2016 02:07 am (UTC)
Have you read the Morris prose romances, which long ago were reprinted in the late lamented Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series? (Well at the World's End, The Wood Beyond the World, etc.) I included them in my long-ago dissertation. Definitely worth reading.
tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on July 8th, 2016 11:24 pm (UTC)
No, I haven't! I'll have to look for them - thanks for the suggestion!