"A snake of black language": the Trial as Narrative Structure in A.S. Byatt’s Babel Tower

Beatrice Seligardi


The article offers an analysis of the narrative dimension of the legal episodes in A.S. Byatt’s Babel Tower. The theoretical framework of the investigation is constituted by Nelson Goodman’s theory of worldmaking processes and, more specifically, its application in contemporary cultural narratology. The analysis focuses in particular on the function assumed by specific narrative techniques. The presence of metafictional devices on the one hand, and, on the other hand, of specific diegetic strategies employed by the narrator convey the narrative dramatization of the conflicts between different, juxtaposed master narratives. The existence and the influence of cultural and gender paradigms are reflected in these discursive instances. The resulting law in literature perspective (the presence in a narrative form of scenes and plots dealing with the legal field) could be interpreted as a highly self-reflexive tool, which testimonies the pervasive omnipresence of extra-literary narrative dynamics.


law in literature; metafiction; A.S. Byatt; cultural narratology

Full Text:

PDF (Italiano)


Bedford, Sybil, “Il processo a Lady Chatterley”, trad. it. di Giovanna Granato, L’Adelphiana (12 luglio 2002).

Bruner, Jerome, Making stories. Law, Literature, Life, Cambridge-London, Harvard University Press, 2002.

Byatt, A.S., Babel Tower (1996), London, Vintage, 2003.

Cambiaghi, Mara, “Quegli irriverenti anni Sessanta: la vena polemica di A.S. Byatt”, Il discorso polemico. Controversia, Invettiva, Pamphlet. Atti del XXXIII Convegno Interuniversitario del Circolo Filologico Linguistico Padovano, Ed. Peron, Gianfelice - Andreose Alvise, Quaderni del Circolo Filologico Linguistico Padovano, Padova, Esedra, 2010: 427-438.

Id., “The Power of Fiction in A.S. Byatt’s Babel Tower”, Symbolism: an International Journal of Critical Aesthetics, vol. 3, 2003: 279-304.

Campbell, Jane, A.S. Byatt and the Heliotropic Imagination, Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2004.

Ceserani, Remo, Convergenze. Gli strumenti letterari e le altre discipline, Milano, Bruno Mondadori, 2010.

Gaaker, Jeanne, ‘(Con)temporary Literature’, European Journal of English Studies, 11.1 (2007): 29 – 46.

Gilbert, Sandra - Gubar, Susan, The Madwoman in the Attic. The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth Century Imagination, Yale, Yale University Press, 1979.

Goodman, Nelson, Ways of Worldmaking, Indianapolis, Hackett Publishing Company, 1978.

Herman, David, “Narrative Ways of Worldmaking”, Narratology in the Age of Cross-Disciplinary Narrative Research, Ed. Heinen Sandra - Sommer Roy, Berlin-New York, De Gruyter, 2009: 71-87.

Nünning, Vera - Nünning, Ansgar - Neumann Birgit (ed.), Cultural Ways of Worldmaking. Media and Narratives, Berlin-New York, De Gruyter, 2010.

Siti, Walter, “Il romanzo sotto accusa”, La cultura del romanzo, Ed. Moretti Franco, Torino, Einaudi, 2008, pp. 129-192.

Steveker, Lena, Identity and Cultural Memory in the Fiction of A.S. Byatt. Knitting the Net of Culture, Palgrave MacMillan, 2009.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/388

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-17522

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM


Between is published by the University of Cagliari - Maintenance for this OJS installation is provided by UniCA Open Journals, hosted by Sistema Bibliotecario di Ateneo.

Between Journal was founded in 2011 with the financial contribution of Fondazione Banco di Sardegna (years 2010-2011).

ISSN 2039-6597 

CC-By lockssDOAJ seal SPARC Europe