As we saw in the preceding chapter, Byatt’s short-story collections have received less critical attention than her novels and are often judged to have a style that is distinct from the intellectualism found there. Despite this, the short stories share many of the interests and preoccupations that were identified in the novels. All the collections demonstrate Byatt’s concern with art and the role of the artist. This is most obvious in The Matisse Stories but the other collections are also interested in the possibilities provided by art, both visual and verbal. The focus on the nature of story-telling has been identified as a primary concern in both Sugar and Djinn and is, for some critics, evidence of Byatt’s postmodern leanings. Others, such as Maack, however, are keen to distance Byatt from postmodernism and implicitly identify her with the realist tradition of literature. As with the novels, then, Byatt’s stories equally occupy an uneasy position in relation to postmodernism and realism. Byatt’s work occupies a similarly uneasy position in relation to feminism; the short stories show a concern with feminist issues but, as with the novels, they never quite form a coherent feminist approach.
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