Jessica Tiffin


A. S. Byatt recurringly employs fairy-tale and folkloric motifs to illustrate her interest in the self-conscious use of narrative. Her work is integrally metafictional in her awareness of the gap between reality and the crafted narratives that reflect it, most strongly in the artificial patterns of the fairy tale. She employs images of glass and ice metaphorically in her work to explore the nature of narrative as artifact. These images express the paradox of representation as both entrapping and empowering, and enable a feminist exploration of the implications of sexuality for the female artist. Byatt’s characteristic use of embedded narrative particularly highlights the artifice of narrative and the interactions between reality and representation. The presence of fairy-tale motifs in her work powerfully reflects her self-consciousness about the processes of narrative and art.