“It’s a Pagan Communion, and We Are the Priests”: Plenitude in Michèle Roberts’s Short Fiction





Michèle Roberts, short fiction, genre, character, gender, passion, language


Roberts’s short stories have not received extensive scholarly attention, yet they make up a substantial part of her oeuvre. Her output of short stories is configured in a particular and coherent way, one that overlaps with her novels, but is consistent in itself. This configuration is summed up by the term plenitude. Abundance is noted in: genre and mood—in genre shifts and in a mixture of the comic and the dark; characters and settings—the range of female figures presented in the short fiction, and of time and place settings; character morphology—the recurrence of motifs of emotional excess, of longing, desire, and passion, in the shaping of characters (gender shifting is also relevant here); and language—the recurrence of motifs of excess on the level of language, the list, metaphoricity and self-referentiality, and the interpenetration of a variety of discourses. In her short fiction, Roberts conflates the spiritual and sensual, meals and wild gardens, the dark and the light. The plenitude of her created world and its language are entries to redemptive or consolatory experiences.

Author Biography

David Malcolm, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities

David Malcolm is a professor at SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw. He is author of books on Ian McEwan, Graham Swift, and John McGahern (all published by the University of South Carolina Press) and of The British and Irish Short Story Handbook (Wiley- Blackwell, 2012). He co-edited The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to the British and Irish Short Story (2008) and On John Berger: Telling Stories (Brill Rodopi, 2016). His edition of Hubert Crackanthorpe’s Wreckage (1893) was published by Edinburgh University Press in 2020. He is coeditor of A Companion to Contemporary British and Irish Poetry, 1960–2015 (Wiley-Blackwell, 2020). In October 2018, he was Professeur invité expert at the École Normale Supérieure, Paris.


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How to Cite

Malcolm, D. (2022). “It’s a Pagan Communion, and We Are the Priests”: Plenitude in Michèle Roberts’s Short Fiction. Analyses/Rereadings/Theories: A Journal Devoted to Literature, Film and Theatre, 6(2), 20–30. https://doi.org/10.18778/2353-6098.6.09