Posted by Karen R on October 22, 1997 at 13:46:42:
In both Hil and Jane Elizabeth's post, there are queries about the literary allusions (Tennysonian colors, names, etc.).
First, Are they are intentional? Absolutely, positively and they are all over the place. Byatt has been described as the bookworm's author. She has significant academic credentials in the area of English literature and has taught as well as written numerous books and articles of literary criticism. I'm no literary maven and believe me I hate poetry, but this book makes me want to ferret it all out--another animal reference!! I've read it a number of times and things are still popping out at me.
Please be indulgent with me when I break in and sound a little too authoritative. I've been toiling in my own "Ash Factory," digging up references, critiques, poems, you name it!!
OK: Now, what did amount to a major bombshell to me was the significance of the names. For that I mean three out of the four major characters' names. Maud, Roland and Christabel share one thing in common. Each of them is the name of a major poem by a Victorian poet. They are:
Maud by Tennyson
Christabel by Coleridge
Childe Roland by Browning (thanks to Cassia on this one, but I haven't tossed out my Chanson du Roland theories!!)
Reading these poems is quite an experience. Is it necessary for an understanding of this book? Well, it helps...but probably for those who are on their third reads of the book!! I had planned to post some tie-in/analysis of the poems with the books, that is if you'd like.
On to the second question about the colors of Tennyson. In an article, Byatt said she was influenced by Tennyson and that his landscapes had a jewel-like quality--all greens and golds. Within the poem Maud, there are landscape references to emerald and sapphires...and she has golden hair! Another color reference to the poem's Maud is white. Both the greens and the whites are the first things Roland sees when he meets Maud.
I'll try putting something together for each of these poems, although I find that this is a neverending quest....
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