The four novels centred around the Potter family and particularly the younger daughter Frederica, which are generally referred to as the Tetralogy or the Frederica Quartet, are emblematic of the representational, intellectual and historicist project of Byatt’s fiction more generally. They function singly, as narratives dealing with the broad sociocultural conditions of a particular moment in England’s post-war history (the early and late 1950s, the early and late 1960s, respectively), but also as a sequence, proposing a chronicle of the changes in the nation’s attitudes towards education, gender, power and art. The connections between the individual texts, both backwards and forwards, thus bind each temporal and geographical setting closer to the others and foster the sense of a historical continuum, even if the direction of this ideal chronological line is not univocal and much of the sense of historicity comes from the later novels’ return to earlier themes, events and locations.
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