Sally B. Pickard’s web book club: read and discuss A.S. Byatt’s medusa’s ankles

The series showcases by Appavance on 27 August in the Walworth library, Walworth, and all month and on the next three Sundays. Medusa’s Ankles, the first volume in A.S. Byatt’s Wildly Imagined Stories, recounts…

The series showcases by Appavance on 27 August in the Walworth library, Walworth, and all month and on the next three Sundays.

Medusa’s Ankles, the first volume in A.S. Byatt’s Wildly Imagined Stories, recounts the lives of Virginia Woolf, the Victorian Inspector Japp (known as “Jock”, by his friends and colleagues at Dulwich College), and Emily Dickenson, who is forever the victim of cruel misunderstandings. Woolf’s sister died of complications caused by polio in 1845; Dickenson’s brother died of cerebral malaria in 1858, and Dickenson herself died of typhoid fever in 1830.

In a world that respects certain “decisions” or “behaviour”, none of the three women survives, leaving our protagonists to meet in exile and tell wry, witty, poignant stories about their tragedies. As Dickenson said: “Let us, on the common ground, discuss the veracity of the contradictory parts.”

A.S. Byatt’s Wildly Imagined Stories include snapshots of war, riots, cults, prisons, stars, rumours, letters, love, rage, and visions of terrible deaths (the Salisbury massacre; Tim Tam Kid Syndrome). Four of her first collected stories are here: those of Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickenson, Captain Hiradeld Hess, and Madame LaLaurie. For the rest of the story, see our colleague Caroline Bittor’s companion essay on this collection.

Download the FREE PDF here.

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