The Biographer's Tale by A. S. Byatt

By A. S. Byatt

From the Booker Prize-winning writer of Possession comes this erotic, playful, and provocative novel concerning the collision of artwork and fact.

Phineas G. Nanson, a dissatisfied post-graduate pupil, makes a decision to depart his summary reports and pursue a doubtless concrete activity: to jot down a biography of a good biographer. yet Phineas quick discovers that proof may be unreliable and a “whole life” demanding to outline. As he tracks his topic from Africa to the Arctic, he involves depend upon women–one of whom could be the advisor he wishes out of his study and again into his personal lifestyles. A tantalizing yarn of detection and wish, The Biographer’s Tale is a provocative examine “truth” in biography and our perennial quest for sure bet.

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But as techniques, the resultant sounds do not simply signify genre but evoke any number of more specific images and concepts, allowing the bands that make use of them to imbed social commentary, and often critique, within metal's musical texts. All of the songs I analyze in this thesis belong to the category of music I have labelled science fiction metal, and many of them particularly rely on evocations of threatening technology, oppressive power, rationalized control and, as the next chapter illustrates, dystopia.

David Szatmary suggests that the early metal played by bands such as Black Sabbath "reflect[ed] the militant mood of the times" with its "loud, explosive" sounds (182). While one might disagree with his suggestion that early metal was divorced from psychedelia,9 the militant times of the late 1960s to which he refers-increasing violence surrounding anti-Viet Nam war protests, violence on campus, race riots (170-174)-may well have contributed to the development of more aggressive musical styles, particularly in the case oflate 1960s American rock artists such as Jimi Hendrix, MC5 and Blue Cheer (SzatIhary 178-179; see also Weinstein, Heavy Metal 18).

Beginning with timbre, he identifies the sound of the distorted electric guitar as the "most important aural sign" in metal, emphasizing its relationship with technological and human (or superhuman) power (41-44). The loudness of metal also produces a sense of power, again relying on technology, but using that technology to "expand aural space" and remove boundaries between the power represented by the music and the listener's experience of bodily empowerment (44-45). The sustain and overdrive often employed by metal singers to .

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