Skip to content
Paperback Babel Tower Book

ISBN: 0679736808

ISBN13: 9780679736806

Babel Tower

(Book #3 in the The Frederica Quartet Series)

Select Format

Select Condition ThriftBooks Help Icon


Format: Paperback

Condition: Good

Save $15.51!
List Price $20.00
Almost Gone, Only 4 Left!

Book Overview

The Booker Prize-winning author of Possession presents an extraordinary story set against the backdrop of the 1960s--a turbulent decade of clashing politics, passionate ideals, and shifting sexual roles.

At the heart of Babel Tower are two law cases, twin strands of the Establishment's web, that shape the story: a painful divorce and custody suit and the prosecution of an obscene book. Frederica, the independent young heroine,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

It gets better every time!

I read and loved The Virgin in the Garden and Still Life and I couldn't wait to read more of Frederica Potter and her eccentric, intellectual family. Babel Tower centers on Frederica's struggles to free herself from her rich, abusive husband. She is now in a custody battle that could well end in disaster. As she regains her independence and begins to work as a teacher in London, Frederica ponders on the reasons she married someone with a different social and intellectual background. There is another legal fight in the story. Jude Mason, a rebellious man who is described as a hippie before his time, is sued for writing an "obscene book." What transpires is a story centered on the laws and prejudices in sixties London. Babel Tower is my favorite part of this literary series. A.S. Byatt focuses on Frederica and her plights here more than on the previous novels. And the references to art and literature in this offering are especially engaging and insightful. I did miss the other members of the Potter family, but I loved reading about Frederica one more time. This is one beautiful novel and I so look forward to reading The Whistling Woman with utmost anticipation.

What Fiction was Meant to Be

A. S. Byatt's Babel Tower integrates one woman's complicated journey into the story of the troubled 1960's with masterful results. Frederica has married an upper-class gentleman who expects her to stay at home and take care of their child without exercising her intellectual gifts or being allowed to see her friends. When he turns violent, she flees with her son back to London and her artistic peer group. In her part-time job reading unsolicited manuscripts, she comes across a vibrant, disturbing book called Babbletower and recommends it for publishing. The rest of the novel deals with Frederica's divorce trial and the prosecution of the novel for obscenity. All of it is set, however, in the swirling, chaotic upset of the 1960's and the redefinition of an entire culture's values.Byatt is a masterful fiction writer. The many voices of the novel - Frederica's, the fanatic recluse author's, the liberal clergyman's, even Anthony Burgess' - are rendered in believable and splendid detail. We believe them all, whether they repulse us or not. The surrounding culture mirrors Frederica's changing identity - reading the Hobbit to her son, short skirts, hash brownies, happenings. Excerpts of Babbletower indeed read like a work of subversive genius - and it's all created by Byatt. I believe the English have an edge on the subtle development of character and plot. Read this great one to know how it's done.

Read it, it's great

When people talk about Byatt, they tend to dwell on her academicism, on her allusions and quotes, on her historicism. But if this were all there were to Byatt, no one would read her. What makes Byatt a wonderful writer is that she has a tremendous sense of how the world works, how situations and relationships that seemed promising slowly unravel, how smart people can do stupid things, and how things and people who at first seem hopeless can wind up being wonderful. She understands process, and she understands complexity.Babel Tower is about how people devoted to the life of the mind can survive in a society which is hostile to that life. Much of the book is taken up with trials, because a major character in this book is "society", which may be personified by juries, by expert witnesses, by journalists. Her character, Frederica, escapes from a marriage which first stultifies her mind, and then threatens to kill her. On a meagre living, she constructs a life and a support system that will give her young son what he needs, mentally and physically. But her husband is wealthy, and what he offers the boy seems superficially more wholesome, so in the trials for divorce and custody, Frederica is judged essentially for her surface, for what her life looks like from the outside.In a parallel subplot, the writer Jude Mason has written a book that is judged for obscenity. But Mason wrote it as a moral book which tells the lessons he has learned in life. He is a vagrant. He was sexually abused in childhood. He understands how people torture those they love. In the book's obscenity trial, Mason, his neuroses, his appearance, and his intentions are judged and condemned; when his book is banned, he himself is banned.And in the early part of the book, we have a debate about how children should be educated, and what they should learn. The proponents of throwing out classical and grammatical training win, and it is a blow for the life of the mind. In the end of the book we see the results.Babel Tower has several interesting themes: 1) the way society reduces and [clouds] a person's identity, and the effect it has on them; 2) depravity and sadism as an integral part of human nature, where cruelty is the backside to love; 3) gender and class double-standards; 4) the debate of what constitutes a good education; 5) the impossibility of creating coherency between the disparate elements of your life, and what this does to you.Byatt is a wise, courageous thinker who can turn a battle of ideas into an enthralling page-turner. But her understanding of life is what makes her work great.Babel Tower was a great book. But you should read its prequel first, Still Life.

If you love books, go for it!

If you love books, don't miss out on this one! Get it for the summer holidays or something, because it will take time and concentration to read, but it is absolutely worth the effort. The intellectual precision of its essayistic passages echoes "The Man Without Qualities", but here it is combined with an increasingly fast-paced narrative which culiminates in two court-room dramas which are unputdownable. I enjoyed this book without having read "Still Live" or "The Virgin", so don't worry if you haven't read them either.

Byatt is Great

A. S. Byatt has to be one of our greatest contemporary writers. POSSESSION remains one of my all time favorite books; and while I won't put BABEL TOWER in quite that category, it is very, very good. I read VIRGIN IN THE GARDEN several years ago and was somewhat disappointed. Even so, I read STILL LIFE which I liked and now BABEL TOWER which is the best of the three. I'm looking forward to the fourth book in the series and to anything new by Byatt.
Copyright © 2023 Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Do Not Sell/Share My Personal Information | Cookie Policy | Cookie Preferences | Accessibility Statement
ThriftBooks® and the ThriftBooks® logo are registered trademarks of Thrift Books Global, LLC
GoDaddy Verified and Secured