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is a novel by Penelope Fitzgerald
Penelope Fitzgerald was a Booker Prize-winning English novelist, poet, essayist and biographer. In 2008, The Times included her in a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".-Early life:...
. It won the Booker Prize for that year. It recalls her time spent on boats in Battersea
Battersea is an area of the London Borough of Wandsworth, England. It is an inner-city district of South London, situated on the south side of the River Thames, 2.9 miles south-west of Charing Cross. Battersea spans from Fairfield in the west to Queenstown in the east...
by the Thames. The novel centralizes around the idea of liminality
Liminality is a psychological, neurological, or metaphysical subjective state, conscious or unconscious, of being on the "threshold" of or between two different existential planes, as defined in neurological psychology and in the anthropological theories of ritual by such writers as Arnold van...
, expanding upon it to include the notion: 'liminal people,' people who do not belong to the land or the sea, but somewhere in-between. The epigraph
In literature, an epigraph is a phrase, quotation, or poem that is set at the beginning of a document or component. The epigraph may serve as a preface, as a summary, as a counter-example, or to link the work to a wider literary canon, either to invite comparison or to enlist a conventional...
, "che mena il vento, e che batte la pioggia, e che s'incontran con si aspre lingue" (whom the wind drives, or whom the rain beats, or those who clash with such bitter tongues) comes from Canto XI of Dante's Inferno.