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Body Art Damien a gynaecological consultant and lapsed Catholic replaces Christian icons with modern art; he worships the absence of God in the abstract staining of paint and ink But when a vagrant young art student shows up in the ward he once has cause to uestion his personal and aesthetic convictions Part of the Storycuts series this short story was originally published in the collection Little Black Book of Stories Lost FaithWhat’s my religion? None I’m an atheist Should the conversation go deeper it may be relevant to mention I was raised an Anglican I know many former Anglicans who identify as atheist or agnostic But non believers who were raised as Roman Catholics invariably identify as some sort of Catholic usually “lapsed” They can’t shake off the label of the religion they no longer followDr Damian Becket is weighed down by his inability to free himself from the faith he no longer believes in “His way of life still ran furiously along the narrow channels cut by his upbringing” He long ago separated from his wife but considers himself “hopelessly and helplessly married” and is repelled by a woman’s intimate piercings because they remind him of the crucifixionBodies and ArtHe’s a gynaecologist with a passion for art “He discovered colour and worshipped the absence of God in the material staining of paint and ink” He’s on the hospital’s art committee including responsibility for a Victorian benefactor’s collection of medical curiosities Take it a step further and use medical parts as artShocking and AwfulBut disturbing art is not the dark aspect of this story It took a very unexpected turn in a veiled understated way No magic corporeal nastiness of an all to real kind Perhaps this was less controversial in 2003 but now it almost needs a trigger warningview spoilerThe doctor is an abuser Torn between two women he sleeps with the one he knows is medically damaged and emotionally vulnerable Her pregnancy is almost miraculous He bullies her into carrying the baby to term “He oversaw X’s pregnancy in a manner both cunning and draconian” ignoring ethics acting paternalistically to her even though he’s the father of her baby “The defiance had gone out of her and was replaced by an unnerving combination of resignation and fear” He’s adamant that the baby must be born even if he raises it alone He chooses the nanny who expresses an interest in art especially colour I was uncertain whether Byatt was making a case against abortion or against virulent anti abortionists The plot of the final story of the collection this was published in see note below suggests a compassionate interpretation hide spoiler

  • Kindle Edition
  • 35 pages
  • Body Art
  • A.S. Byatt
  • English
  • 03 April 2015

About the Author: A.S. Byatt

Margaret Drabble over the alleged appropriation of a family tea set in one of her novels The pair seldom see each other and each does not read the books of the otherMarried1st 1959 Ian Charles Rayner Byatt Sir I C R Byatt marriage dissolved 1969; one daughter one son deceased2nd 1969 Peter John Duffy; two daughtersEducationSheffield High School; The Mount School York; Newnham College Cambridge BA Hons; Hon Fellow 1999; Bryn Mawr College Philadelphia USA; Somerville College OxfordAcademic HonoursHon Fellow London Inst 2000; Fellow UCL 2004Hon DLitt Bradford 1987; DUniv York 1991; Durham 1991; Nottingham 1992; Liverpool 1993; Portsmouth 1994; London 1995; Sheffield 2000; Kent 2004; Hon LittD Cambridge 1999PrizesThe PENMacmillan Silver Pen Of Fiction prize 1986 for STILL LIFEThe Booker Prize 1990 for POSSESSIONIrish TimesAer Lingus International Fiction Prize 1990 for POSSESSIONThe Eurasian section of Best Book in Commonwealth Prize 1991 for POSSESSIONPremio Malaparte Capri 1995;Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature California 1998 for THE DJINN IN THE NIGHTINGALE''S EYEShakespeare Prize Toepfer Foundation Hamburg 2002;PublicationsThe Shadow of the Sun 1964;Degrees of Freedom 1965 reprinted as Degrees of Freedom the early novels of Iris Murdoch 1994;The Game 1967;Wordsworth and Coleridge in their Time 1970 reprinted as Unruly Times Wordsworth and Coleridge in their Time 1989;Iris Murdoch 1976The Virgin in the Garden 1978;GEORGE ELIOT Selected Essays Poems and Other Writings 1979 editor;Still Life 1985Sugar and Other Stories 1987;George Eliot selected essays 1989 editorPossession a romance 1990Robert Browning''s Dramatic Monologues 1990 editor;Passions of the Mind essays 1991;Angels and Insects novellae1992The Matisse Stories short stories1993;The Djinn in the Nightingale''s Eye five fairy stories 1994Imagining Characters 1995 joint editor;New Writing 4 1995 joint editor;Babel Tower 1996;New Writing 6 1997 joint editor;The Oxford Book of English Short Stories 1998 editor;Elementals Stories of fire and ice short stories 1998;The Biographer''s Tale 2000;On Histories and Stories essays 2000;Portraits in Fiction 2001;The Bird Hand Book 2001 Photographs by Victor Schrager Text By AS Byatt;A Whistling Woman 2002Little

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