A.S. Byatt's “Morpho Eugenia” (1992) marks a significant moment in the consideration of (narrative) hospitality in neo-Victorian fiction. It expands on the concerns of neo-Victorianism during the phase of its definitive affirmation, the early 1990s, by foregrounding the theme of hospitality in discourses that are central to the Victorian novel and to contemporary re-interpretations of Victorian literary culture. Among these are the trope of the visit to the family house in the English novel, with the notable abundance of unprotected guests, who are often then assimilated into the family. Another central concern regards the perils and threats to personal identity that come with the crossing of the threshold of hospitality. A third is the question of the relationship with the ‘other’ in the un/conditional hospitality that is experienced by the protagonist. All of these sub-themes are contained in an epistemological dimension that is framed by the languages of science and religion, which were problematically interrelated at the time. This article thus considers the conceptual standpoint and the narrative strategies with which Byatt engages with the literary tradition of hospitality, from Homeric parallels through the nineteenth-century novel’s interest in self-identity, to the implications of the limits of knowledge and recognition of otherness. It also assesses the novella’s neo-Victorian self-consciousness as a literary reimagining of the nineteenth-century world and examines how this viewpoint is receptive to a post-structuralist questioning of traditional notions of hospitality.

“Doomed to a kind of double consciousness”: treacherous hospitality and the inversion of tradition in A.S. Byatt’s “Morpho Eugenia”

Gefter Wondrich Roberta
2021-01-01

Abstract

A.S. Byatt's “Morpho Eugenia” (1992) marks a significant moment in the consideration of (narrative) hospitality in neo-Victorian fiction. It expands on the concerns of neo-Victorianism during the phase of its definitive affirmation, the early 1990s, by foregrounding the theme of hospitality in discourses that are central to the Victorian novel and to contemporary re-interpretations of Victorian literary culture. Among these are the trope of the visit to the family house in the English novel, with the notable abundance of unprotected guests, who are often then assimilated into the family. Another central concern regards the perils and threats to personal identity that come with the crossing of the threshold of hospitality. A third is the question of the relationship with the ‘other’ in the un/conditional hospitality that is experienced by the protagonist. All of these sub-themes are contained in an epistemological dimension that is framed by the languages of science and religion, which were problematically interrelated at the time. This article thus considers the conceptual standpoint and the narrative strategies with which Byatt engages with the literary tradition of hospitality, from Homeric parallels through the nineteenth-century novel’s interest in self-identity, to the implications of the limits of knowledge and recognition of otherness. It also assesses the novella’s neo-Victorian self-consciousness as a literary reimagining of the nineteenth-century world and examines how this viewpoint is receptive to a post-structuralist questioning of traditional notions of hospitality.
16-mar-2021
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https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13825577.2020.1876605
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/2982366
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