Babel Tower by A. S. Byatt

England

By A. S. Byatt

The Booker Prize-winning writer of ownership offers a beautiful, modern tale set opposed to the clashing politics, passionate beliefs, and transferring sexual roles of the early Nineteen Sixties. In Byatt's imaginative and prescient, the presiding genius of the day appears a mix of the Marquis de Sade and The Hobbit. Peopled with bizarre and colourful characters, charted with superb, creative sympathy, Babel Tower is as comedian because it is threatening and peculiar.

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1;. ", oftt>. fl. ",,", Nj ;, po ' . "" PhII;pp. Augur'" I'd. H. F. D"bbonle '" "I, (4 vcl,. (0<1010: 1'>';" '9,6- ). vol. l, 'K>, ;9j. pp. - :S Cross-Channel estates were not limited to holdings in England and Nor- mandy. A few lords held not only English and Norman lands. but also properties in France beyond the Norman frontier. A notable example is provided by the counts of MeuJan. who took their title from the town and castle on the Seine between Rouen and Paris. For this. they were vassals of the kings of France.

First from 1066 to the I 1405, is the period when there was an Anglo-Norman realm and an Anglo-Norman baronage. It was a realm fought over by rival mem hers of the ruling dynasty and a baronage often with divided loyalties, but it was nonetheless a political entity conceived of as fundamentally one, and one ruled by Frenchmen. W the accession of the Angevin, Henry 11, changed the pattern. He not only inherited Anjou and its subordinate territories but had also acqUired comrol of Aquitaine, the vast duchy extending over south-west France, by his marriage to EIeanor of Aquitaine.

Two of his four legitimate sons had predeceased him. DUring his lifetime he had made various proposals for dividing his territories, more than one of which had prompted violent opposition from sons who thought they were being ousted, and Henry indeed died while in the middle of a struggle with his oldest surviving son, Richard. As things turned out. Richard succeeded \0 the whole of his father'S domains, though he made generous provision wi thin them for his brother John. It was ,a. , • W. h llll.

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