This study guide will help you analyse the text “Sea Story” by A. S. Byatt. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, themes and message.
Presentation of the text
Title: “Sea Story”
Author: A.S. Byatt
Published in: The Guardian
Year of Publication: 2013
Genre: Short story
A.S. Byatt is the pen name of British author Dame Antonia Susan Duffy (b. 1936). Byatt writes poems, novels, and short stories and was awarded the Booker Prize. The Times newspaper ranked her among the 50 greatest British writers since 1945.
A. S. Byatt is a postmodernist writer. Although writers associated with postmodernism in literature often refuse to accept clear definitions of postmodernism, some literary features are still attributed to this movement. In the case of “Sea Story” we can identify the following aspects as postmodernist features:
Byatt prefers showing rather than telling the reader what is happening. This is most obvious in the description of the bottle’s voyage which is filled with imagery. The references to literary poems by other authors is called intertextuality, another feature of postmodernism.
Yet another postmodernist feature noticeable in the short story is irony and the dark humour. Laura is killed indirectly by the sea which she chose over love. The poem Harold sent to Laura was about love overcoming nature, yet in his case, nature triumphed over love.
Works by the same author
To gain more insight into the author’s style of writing we encourage you to read A. S. Byatt’s short story “Baglady”. The story follows the wife of a company director who goes with her husband on a business trip in the Orient, together with other directors and their wives. The woman gets lost in the mall and is subsequently robbed and taken for a homeless woman by the local police. The things that happen to her makes her feel like she is having a nightmare.