Beyond belief : the crisis of faith in A.S. Byatt's fiction

Jennifer Anne Johnson


A. S. Byatt’s Ragnarök (2011), a retelling of the Norse myth of the downfall of the gods and the end of the world, would seem to be a departure from her fictional narratives set in the nineteenth or twentieth century. However, this book is a natural development from her earlier novels that explored the Victorian crisis of faith resulting from the loss of religious certainty in the face of scientific discoveries. The author’s writing over the last twenty years has become increasingly involved with science, and she has long acknowledged her rejection of Christian beliefs. Byatt used the nineteenth century as a starting point for an exploration of twenty-first century concerns which have now resurfaced in the Norse myth of loss and destruction. This paper revisits "Possession" and "Angels and Insects" within the framework of her more recent writing, focusing on the themes of religion, spiritualism and science.


A. S. Byatt; contemporary British literature; Victorian spiritualism; science; religious belief

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Copyright (c) 2012 Jennifer Anne Johnson

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