Read Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt Online

possession-a-romance

Alternate cover edition here."Literary critics make natural detectives," says Maud Bailey, heroine of a mystery where the clues lurk in university libraries, old letters, and dusty journals. Together with Roland Michell, a fellow academic and accidental sleuth, Maud discovers a love affair between the two Victorian writers the pair has dedicated their lives to studying: RaAlternate cover edition here."Literary critics make natural detectives," says Maud Bailey, heroine of a mystery where the clues lurk in university libraries, old letters, and dusty journals. Together with Roland Michell, a fellow academic and accidental sleuth, Maud discovers a love affair between the two Victorian writers the pair has dedicated their lives to studying: Randolph Ash, a literary great long assumed to be a devoted and faithful husband, and Christabel La Motte, a lesser-known "fairy poetess" and chaste spinster. At first, Roland and Maud's discovery threatens only to alter the direction of their research, but as they unearth the truth about the long-forgotten romance, their involvement becomes increasingly urgent and personal. Desperately concealing their purpose from competing researchers, they embark on a journey that pulls each of them from solitude and loneliness, challenges the most basic assumptions they hold about themselves, and uncovers their unique entitlement to the secret of Ash and La Motte's passion....

Title : Possession: A Romance
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780099800408
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 511 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Possession: A Romance Reviews

  • Kelly
    2019-03-24 07:45

    That was.. not what I was expecting this time.I have to admit, I did not approach this book this time around with what I would consider pure motives. I wasn’t in it to find things I had never found before, to revisit a personal classic to explore ideas that I had left behind for the time when I was ready to connect with them in the way that they deserved. I wasn’t even in it to re-approach situations and characters with a new perspective of age and experience.No, I needed something from this book. I can’t really think of any other way to put this, really: I was self-medicating with this book.I’ve heard this talked about in so many different ways, if perhaps not in those words, by other book lovers that I know that I can’t be the only one who does this. I came back to this book because of the transformative experience I had the last two times. I needed to be transformed. I’ve fallen into a new line of work in recent years, and I.. well, there are a lot of things that I’ve seen that I wasn’t prepared for. It’s the sort of work where I’ve felt the need to create an entirely separate daytime persona to feel brave enough and competent enough to get through the day, one that I consider separate from what I would consider myself. I come home at the end of the day and spend my time trying to reconnect with the other person I know I am and want to continue being. Some days I can even stay awake long enough to get some of her back. It isn’t that it is necessarily objectively that horrible of an experience. It’s just something where the vast majority of the time I spend during the day is spent in tasks that are for the most part not suited to my personality or many of my strengths. It also involves things that I would personally prefer not to be part of my life. I chose this job because I had become so disillusioned with the ivory tower academic path I was on that I chose the most opposite thing that I could think of to do that still fell within the realm of my skills and education. After years of being shut up inside a library going crazy inside my head, I got sick of the whole exercise as a merry-go-round of narcissistic and masochistic head games. I decided I just wanted to be useful, do anything that didn’t leave me time for that nonsense. I think that I am useful, sometimes. Sometimes I help. Sometimes I go home and don’t wake up in the middle of the night worried, or check my email at 10 pm just in case.But goddamn, it’s just… it’s ugly sometimes. It’s tiring, and isolating, and my daytime persona is taking over more and more of my time. There are things about her that I like and I think would benefit me if I could adopt them outside a situation of necessity. But there are things that I desperately want to save about the person that I can only be after work hours, which I have less and less time for. What I would gain is not worth what I would lose-I am lucky enough to have enough time with my other self banked right now to be able to say that with certainty. It’s the only fucking reason I can write this review right now- I’ve got the other one far enough at bay that I can only barely hear her screaming about what a fucking waste of time this is and what a terrible writer I am anyway and I should get back to doing something that fucking helps somebody.I reached for Possession after two weeks of working twelve hour days and only one Saturday to restore my Self. I wanted it to bring me back to myself as fast as possible, though I'm sure I didn't think that consciously. I thought, Irememberthis , only, when I was lucky enough to see it on the shelf.There are parts of this book that I have such a strong, bodily anchored memory of, that I have connected to so strongly that my body has a sense memory of what it should do at the time when I read those words. I am at the point with this book where I am not only remembering the scenes and words, I am doubling that over with my memories of myself reading them and feeding off of them, trying to make them a part of my immediate self again. It was a cycle of memory and experience, one feeding off the other to bring me back, make me disappear and make me whole again, here in the present.I went to it looking for something that I knew wasn’t going to go away: beauty. I needed some beauty in my life so badly, and this is how you know the disease of bibliophilia has really set in- books are what I turn to when I need that. I go to books to remind myself that beauty exists and it is worth something and it is a part of me, no matter how much I forget that sometimes. There are some books that we readers can no longer do this with. Before I realized what I was doing this, it was happening for years with my constant re-reads of parts of Guy Gavriel Kay novels. He was my go-to until I read his latest novel and the spell was broken- I stayed in the present and analytical- that it wouldn't work again. That was when I started to figure out what I was doing because then I tried reading my favorite novel of Arturo Perez-Reverte’s, and similarly, rather than being swept away, all I could see was the melodramatic dialogue and some fucked up coded gender politics that I considered writing an enraged essay about. Some of this, sure, is perhaps about developing better taste and letting go of adolescent attachments. But more of it is about being so far away from what I like to think of as myself that there are days where I can’t get back.Possession, though, it brought me back. It has not disappointed me yet. Parts of this book made me laugh and smile and exercise my brain in the way that I want it to be exercised, and alternately, it devoured me whole. There were parts where I came up gasping for air, and parts that I danced over lightly, barely reading, except for letting the pieces of a well-known structure fall reassuringly into place.. There were parts where the rhythm of it was enough, and parts where I read and re-read a page again and again until I felt I had understood it on many levels.But mostly, it was all so much words, words, words, paragraphs and pages put together in just that way. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, for a read that looked to suck out whatever drop of beauty it could find, it was the “first-hand” personal accounts that stood out to me the most here- the letters and the diaries- each and every one of them a record of love, desire, becoming and stone-set final regret and loss, each and every one of them filtered though the love of words, writing and books, of the seeking, narrative embroidered kind that I recognize as one of my own:”…I may write to you as I write when I am alone, when I write my true writing, which is for everyone and no one- so that in me which has never addressed any private creature, feels at home with you. I say “at home” what extraordinary folly- when you take pleasure in making me feel most unhemlich, as the Germans have it, least of all at home, but always on edge… But poets don’t want homes- do they?- they are not creatures of hearth and firedogs, but of heaths and ranging hounds. Now tell me, do you suppose what I just wrote is the truth or a lie?”“Today I laid down Melusina having come trembling to the end of this marvelous work. What shall I say of it?.... How shall I characterize it? It is like a huge, intricately embroidered tapestry in a shadowed stone hall, on which all sorts of strange birds and beasts and elves and demons creep in and out of thickets of thorny trees…”“At first Roland worked with the kind of concentrated curiosity with which he read anything at all by Randolph Ash. This curiosity was a kind of predictive familiarity; he knew the workings of the other man’s mind, he had read what he had read, he was possessed of his characteristic habits of syntax and stress. His mind could leap ahead and hear the rhythm of the unread as though he was the writer, hearing in his brain the ghost-rhythms of the as yet unwritten…”“We live in an age of scientific history- we sift our evidence- we know somewhat about eyewitness accounts and how far it is prudent to entrust ourselves to them.. So if I construct a fictive eyewitness account- a credible plausible account- am I lending life to truth with my fiction- or verisimilitude to a colossal Lie with my feverish imagination? Do I do as they did, the evangelists, reconstructing the events of the Story in after-time? Or do I do as false prophets do and puff air into simulacra?..”“My dear Friend,I may call myself your friend, may I not? For my true thoughts have spent more time in your company than in anyone else’s, these last two or three months, and where my thoughts are, there am I, in truth, even if- like the May, only a threshold-presence, by decree. I write to you now in haste- not to answer your last most generous letter- but to impart a vision…”“I have dreamed nightly of your face and walked the streets of my daily life with the rhythms of your writing singing in my silent brain. I have called you my Muse and so you are, or might be, a messenger from some urgent place..”“Oh Sir- things flicker and shift, they are indeed all spangle and sparks and flashes. I have sat by my fireside all this long evening- on my safe stool- turning my burning cheeks towards the Aspirations of the flame and the caving-in, the ruddy mutter, the crumbling of the consumed coals…”“My dear-The true exercise of freedom is-cannily and wisely and with grace-to move inside what space confines- and not seek to know what lies beyond and cannot be touched or tasted. But we are human- and to be human is to desire to know what may be known by any means…I would not for the whole world diminish you. I know it is usual in these circumstances to protest- “I love you for yourself alone”- “I love you essentially”- and as you imply, my dearest, to mean by “you essentially”, lips and hands and eyes. But you must know- we do know- that it is not so- dearest, I love your soul and with that your poetry- the grammar and stopping and hurrying syntax of your quick thought-quite as much essentially you as Cleopatra’s hopping was essentially hers to delight Antony- more essentially, in that while all lips hands and eyes resemble each other- your thoughts clothed with your words are uniquely you, came with you, would vanish if you vanished…”“I have been angry for so long- with all of us, with you, with Blanche, with myself. And now near the end, “in the calm of mind all passion spent,” I think of you again with clear love. I have been reading Samson Agoniste and came upon the dragon I always thought you were- as I was the ‘tame villatic fowl’-His fiery virtue rousedFrom under ashes into sudden flameAnd as an evening dragon cameAssailant on the perched roostsAnd nests in the order rangedOf tame villatic fowl-Is not that fine? Did we not- did you not flame and I catch fire? Shall we survive and rise from our ashes? Like Milton’s Pheonix?That self-begotten birdIn the Arabian woods embossedThat no second knows nor thirdAnd lay erewhile a holocaustFrom out her ashy womb now teemedRevives, reflourishes, then vigorous mostWhen most unactive deemedAnd though her body die, her fame survivesA secular bird, ages of lives.I would rather have lived alone, so, if you would have the truth. But since that might not be- and is granted to almost none- I thank God for you- if there must be a Dragon- that He was You…”See, that is the shit that matters. Fuck, I remember now. That is the shit that started me down this path in the first place, that lead me to make choice after choice that I thought was going there, even if it went somewhere different. That restored me again. I read the letters twice and Sabine’s diary slowly once, the sort of read that is three times over in reality. By the time I was done, my brain circuitry had slid back into it’s proper place, and I could answer the sort of basic questions that I couldn’t before I had started. I felt purged, like I had gone on a cleansing diet for a month. This is the sort of read that cleans out all the nonsense from my brain and leaves me with what is essentially important again.It is a species of addiction- it works much the same as any other. I realize this. But for now, books like Possession, books that devour me and spit me out again remade… this is what keeps me in equilibrium, and keeps the self that I very much want to keep around from disappearing. They are my guide back. I am keeping this one, along with others of its kind, on my bedside table. I have a feeling I will need them again soon.If anyone has any books to recommend that they turn to for beauty and rest, please let me know. I would love to add them to what I can only call my arsenal. Thank you.* * *ORIGINAL: I do so hate to be predictable, the girl who has victorian and victorian-wannabe shelves, and shelves for regency and romance and the-aftermath, and pretty much every other category that this would plausibly be generally shelved in (except, perhaps, pretentiousness-that's-worth-it...but we'll get to that later) but I really do love this book.I'm going to have to go even further down the disgustingly adoring path and say that this is going to be a personal classic, for me. I don't argue that it needs to be taught in classrooms or become part of a modern canon or anything like that (though I'm certainly not against the idea), but it definitely meets the most important thing for me:A different experience at every age/read- This is my second read through. The first time I read it was in 2002. I was 16 years old, and the movie was coming out. There was no way I appreciated this book beyond a few very shallow things. Why? 'Cause dude, there was a movie coming out with some of my favorite sexy people in it (Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehele), and duuuude it was about hot Victorians having hot sexy smart people sexy sex and their words were as hot as their hot costumes and hot modern academics (ooohmygood whoos this Aaron Eckhart, hellooo!) getting it on over books, books are so awesome... Ooh look, letters with smart people references in it that I understand, this is so cool that I get even a little of this, yay!... oh did I mention HOT VICTORIANS??... Yeah, that was about the extent of my thoughts at the time, I think. I did cry at the end, but for the most simple of reasons, something that you could cry at a freaking Hallmark special on the Lifetime channel about.Now? I am only 23, but I'm old enough to be mostly embarrassed for myself at 16 (though I still think parts of this book are smokin' sexy), and I do feel like I'm getting worlds and worlds more out of this book than I ever got back then, and I can see myself getting more and more as I grow older, as the characters do. There's so much in here that leaped off the page and spoke to me and both my every day little problems and the bigger opinions and feelings that I have about the larger things in life. And I know there are still vast things in here that I missed, things that I don't think I quite understand yet, or call bullshit at at the moment that I just know will be of comfort to me when I pick this book up again in ten years or so, in twenty years, in thirty years. And the fact that I know that I'm going to do that, that I expect my copy to wear out and that I'll have to get a new one before I die, well, that speaks volumes, doesn't it? This particular read I really attached onto the characters struggling to find out what to do with themselves, what they were worth, after the life prescribed by their parents and other authority figures ends, those characters trying to deal with what other people expect them to be as opposed to how they see themselves, creating the narrative of your own life, being your own person in a relationship, and the connections I keep making between this book and the ideas in Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own. There's a fascinating fight over spiritual beliefs that I don't have the headspace to deal with now, but is haunting the back of my head, and I expect to be obsessed with it the next time I read it.So, yeah, that's what the good books should do to you.There's also other things, like all the fascinating things she deals with in the book. I mean, just to rattle off a few: feminism, post-modernism, living in a post-modern world, deconstructionism, many many issues of religion and spirituality, cultural relativism and archetypes, living in a globalized world, negotiating the self in relationships, the academic life and petty infighting, etc, etc. And I do mean etc, etc, etc, because there's tons in here that I'm not even bringing up, and probably tons more that I missed. Which is why I think this book is a gold mine.Now a lot of people say that they abandon this book because they find it too pretentious, or too self-gratifying, etc. I don't really think that's the case. I think a lot of the things that could be deemed 'pretentious' are being used by Byatt to make fun of the ridiculousness of some of the characters within who are indeed pretentious. Maybe it is just the subject matter- I don't know how you avoid pretentiousness when you're writing about overeducated Victorian people with literary tendencies. It probably does tend to go to your head, the way that all works. I can see that putting people off to begin with, but if you picked up the book already knowing it was about Victorian poets and squabbling Victorian scholars then I would think you'd be prepared for that kind of thing and be able to wade through it. Are all the full length Victorian style poems she includes pretentious? Probably. But man, if I could do that, I would want to do that too. And it isn't as if they are pointless. Most of the poems are clues to the mystery, clues to the characters themselves, especially as they get longer- they're not just there to create an ambiance. Plus, we hear so much about the poems and other peoples' interpretations of them its great to actually see the real things and judge for ourselves, and fits really well into the theme about people creating their own narratives out of the past according to their present needs, and I think reflects cleverly back on the reader. For me, all of that pretentiousnes is worth it, and I find it all brilliant, that's just my response to it. I usually think agree to disagree is bullshit, but when you get into literary experimentation, I think that's the only way to come out alive.So anyway, I tore through this in four insanely obsessed days- and this on a re-read. So if you're into this kind of thing, leap right in. Leap, I tell you! It's the way to read this one.

  • Paul Bryant
    2019-02-25 09:03

    A honking great piece of literary self gratification, a novel about writers (all novels about writers should be given a concrete overcoat), a grand excuse for A S Byatt to dazzle us with some fancy ventriloquism, and yes you can feel the throb of the author's perfervid intelligence like a lawnmower hacking away at the tough grass at the edge of the lawn but after all of that you have to come clean and say that Possession isn't worth the thinnest novelette written by Raymond Chandler or the most offhand poem by e e cummings or the most obscure B side by the Beach Boys either. A pure waste of time which I was suckered into by someone whose taste I had thought trustworthy, so that was a lesson bitterly learned.***This book breaks one of PB's commandments :- Thou shalt not write a book which is a series of SOCK PUPPETS designed entirely to impress the hoi polloi at the Hay-on-Wye Literary festival when you read bits out to them in FUNNY VOICES.

  • Warwick
    2019-02-26 11:04

    OK I have to say something. People keep writing reviews of this book and talking about how it was great except for all the boring poems which they skipped through.READ THE POETRY, PEOPLE! What's the matter with everyone?? They're actually rather good, they are full of plot clues, and, duh, they're a key part of the novel you're reading. I mean what is going on here? Do people really hate poetry so much that they're skipping a few pages of it in the middle of a story? If you try that shit with Hamlet you're going to miss half the play. Or is this part of some weird trend? Perhaps you hold your hands over your ears when the Rolling Stones switch to 12/8 time, or fast-forward through all the Frank Sivero scenes in Goodfellas? Or is it literally just verse? I mean, you know there are books out there which are all poetry, right? What's the matter, do you have a rhyme allergy? Too much alliteration brings on your irritable bowel syndrome? What's going on??I give up.PS the actual book is excellent.(Oct 2009)

  • Marjorie Hakala
    2019-03-11 09:10

    A while ago I said to myself, "I'm going to pay more attention to doing things that make me happy. So I'm going to cook more creatively and read more fantasy, because I keep forgetting I like those things."Then I started reading Possession. The happiness project got put on the back burner until I was ready to emerge from the Victorian melancholia, which placed demands on my time too great to allow for preparing meals. I never cried at this book, exactly, but I frequently wept the way a lemon meringue pie weeps when you leave it out and come back to find dots of moisture on the surface.Oh, it was beautiful, though, a book of such tangible substance that sometimes, when I was reading it while standing, I would feel as if the book were holding me up instead of the other way around. I've read and loved a couple of A.S. Byatt's short-story collections, so I knew she had a fine control of language, but Possession is on a different plane, telling the story with a multitude of voices through letters, poems, criticism, biography, and journal entries as well as the prose of the main narrative. Byatt didn't just write some poems to go in her novel, she created two major Victorian poets from whole cloth, fitted them exactly into a time and a place, and made so bold as to have a character say about one of them, "You can't understand the twentieth century without understanding him." Does that mean we can't understand the twentieth century fully, in a world where there was never a Randolph Henry Ash? This poet isn't a fictionalized Tennyson or Browning, he's a completely invented eminent Victorian. Christabel LaMotte, likewise, is something entirely new; her poems have a dash of Emily-Dickinsonian diction but with French-English, devout Christian, determinedly feminist sensibilities. I don't know if anyone calls this book a work of alternate history, but it was poignant to think about what would be different in a world that included this poetry. I wish I could visit that world, just to read the rest of Ragnarok and Melusina. The prose itself bordered on poetry, to such an extent that sometimes I had to stop to savor a rhythm. Like here: "But he had known immediately that she was for him, she was to do with him, as she really was or could be, or in freedom might have been." (I would quote more, but I've already loaned out the copy I read.)In addition to the new-old poetry, Possession has packed inside it a meditation on the arts of scholarship and biography; the most moving writing about celibacy I've ever come across; a critical work on the erotics of reading; and a half-lament, half-ode to the powers of time and memory and forgetting. And, as the cover proclaims, it is a romance--a set of entwined love stories written with impossible precision and believability. It is a book about books, but in such a generous way that nearly everything books can be about is in here. Reading something like this makes me glad that there is such a thing as literary fiction.

  • Dolors
    2019-03-20 10:52

    Stolen snapshots that defy the laws of space and time:Past.A poet observes a mystical creature, half woman half mermaid, scouting cliffs and creeks, bathing in unruly seas and still ponds, getting drenched in the cascade of his flowing words. The ache of losing God is not so acute when intellect is met with incandescent creativity. Or with unrestrained love. His gentle curiosity breathes life into inert things, making them shine with an inner glow of their own, because he doesn’t aspire to possess what he loves, he cherishes it and makes it flourish in its natural state. Present.A self-effacing, underpaid assistant researcher in a dark room that smells of stale history survives in reality while his mind thrives with verses penned by the dead Victorian poet, Randolph Henry Ash. Unaware that he possesses a voice of his own he searches for the veiled truths of his life in the legacy of the iconic poet.Past.A petite, pale woman with gleaming eyes, green like emeralds, crystalline like a dragon’s stare, sits in a carriage oblivious of the bearded gentleman sitting opposite her who memorizes the lines of her features with fascinated absorption. She is reserved, protective of her independence and shrouded in mystery. Skeptical of romantic love, her passion is devoted to the life of language. She speaks in tongues of fire and torrents of poems spring from the briny seas of her feral imagination. She moves like water, eluding possession in her ever-changing shape. Present.A successful scholar specialized in the underrated poetess Christabel LeMotte flushes with emotion as she anxiously leafs through yellowish pages, wrapped by the familiar odor of mildew, wax and ash. Unusually blond and displaying a cool and poised detachment, she covets loneliness guided by fear of being possessed. Four characters. Two stories. Parallel plotlines. Present and past dissolve in undelivered letters, secret diaries and rose-scented poems that act like two-way mirrors where reality becomes a mirage and generally agreed facts mere artificial constructs. Combining cultivated erudition, refined literary taste and virtuous mastery of several genres, Byatt exposes her characters to psychological vivisection merging fictional plot with intricate disquisitions and creates highly distinctive voices that speak to the different realities of the reader.Fast paced dialogues sprouting from picturesque secondary characters of the Academia tinted with sporadic brushtrokes of colorful yet haunting humor create the perfect palette for a Gothic scenario where raging storms, spooky cemeteries and ancient legends blend with sumptuous meditation on the concept of possession. Does love inevitably imply possession? How can the bird fly free in the gilded cage of desire? Can love be restorative rather than demanding? Is selfless love a chimera?Byatt doesn’t offer clear answers. She uses the third person narrator not as an omniscent actor but as a means to bring her characters closer to the readers and allow them to reach their own conclusions. All their voices speak to me in symphonic cannon with the unvarying idea that pure love thrives in letting go of the things we want to possess. Only when the object of our desires, be it the beloved person, a professional career, an idealized obsession or the inspiration to write, is released from selfish need will it open its locked gateways freely and show us the pathway to fulfillment. But that is not the only song I hear, for raising above the melody, I distinclty discern Byatt’s contralto singing the only truth that not even rigorous scholarship can claim to possess. That after passion is spent, heartache subdued and disappointments diluted in the sea of memories, that long after the stillborn happiness has burnt out in the arson of irreconcilable pasts, dead words will be rekindled from the ashes with every new reading, Phoenix-like. And bygone lives will be infused with the spark of new beginnings, for their essence will be preserved in the artistic creations writers sent sailing the tides of time to reach shores still to be read and mornings that smell of brine to wake up to. Never to be fully possessed, but forever adored."In the morning, the whole world had a strange new smell. It was the smell of the aftermath, a green smell, a smell of shredded leaves and oozing resin, of crushed wood and splashed sap, a tart smell, which bore some relation to the smell of bitten apples. It was the smell of death and destruction and it smelled fresh and lively and hopeful."

  • Duane
    2019-03-12 09:55

    Winner of the Man Booker Prize in 1990.Giving this book 5 stars was not ever in doubt for me. This is one of the most remarkable books I've ever read. I'm a romantic, I admit. I love art and art history. I love good historical fiction. But all that combined still does not make a good book. A.S. Byatt pulls all this together with the most important aspect of any book, great writing. But she adds something else also, something that's hard to put your finger on, a uniqueness, an edge, if you will, that puts this work in a class of it's own. It's a modern classic, without doubt, and it's worthy of all it's awards and praise.

  • Jennifer (aka EM)
    2019-03-07 12:05

    Too much work for too little reward.I read somewhere that if you pick up a book, and you're not enjoying it by either: a) your age (if you are under 50); or b) 100 minus your age (if you are over 50), you should abandon it and move on. There is too much to read and life is too short to be spent reading bad books.I think this applies particularly to books in that grey zone, where you can tell the writer is winding up to something, and the style and story has enough ooomph in it to keep you powering on, despite perhaps your better judgement.A.S. Byatt'sPossession: A Romance is definitely in that zone. It's not that Byatt is not a good writer: she is. I am enjoying her eviscerating attack on the insular, political world of academia, with its serpent-eating-its-tail kind of irrelevance. The set-up of the grad student/teaching assistant/temp couple, living in a dank basement, banned from the garden, and feeding off of each other in passive-aggressive co-dependency was ... well, pretty much perfect (and hit a little close to home!) The send-up of feminist scholarship is priceless.But it's all a little too much to wade through for just a taste of these morsels. It's too clever, and too complicated, by half. So far, I've got two major characters, two minor characters, a slew of tertiary characters including some that we see only through the eyes of the two major ones; two poets--who are two more major characters--from each of whom I am getting internal monologue, dialogue, and painstakingly-fabricated Victorian-era poems, letters, and academic research papers reflecting all of that. And these are rife with references, allusions and imagery from Victorian and classical times, both faux and likely real, but I just can't sort it all out and right now, I don't really want to. Oh, and we're on two continents, one convincingly, and one much less so. I've given it to p. 108, and I'm still not sure that I won't come back to it. Perhaps a different season, a different frame of mind. This novel is likely, for me, like drinking single-malt scotch in the summer: sometimes I do, but I rarely enjoy it. I need a bracing cool autumn evening, or a blizzardy night, woodfire blazing, my faithful companion, Sutcliffe, the Beagle, by my side. In other words, I need to get into a rarified connoisseur's headspace and let the experience wash over me while I noodle away at it like a crossword.I will put this one back on the shelf and maybe try again in January.

  • Cecily
    2019-03-12 10:04

    “Like many biographies... this was as much about its author as its subject.”AS Byatt has characters describing biography as “a form of religion… a form of ancestor worship”. She is a novelist who loves the academic approach to biography, applied to fiction and semi-fiction, creating po-mo metafiction that is rich in texture and research, but which can be a little hard for mortals to digest. There are two main timelines here: a pair of Victorian poets (Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte, loosely based on Browning/Tennyson and Christina Rossetti, respectively), and various modern academics who specialise in either RHA or LaMotte (principally Roland Michell and Maud Bailey). When a connection between the two Victorians is discovered, professional rivalry and collaboration are at odds in the literary detective story that ensues. That opens the possibility of modern romance to parallel the past, culminating in rather ludicrous scenes in Cornwall. The Great VentriloquistThat is the title of (fictional) Mortimer Cropper’s famous biography of (fictional) RHA, described in the quote at the top), but it applies to Byatt, too. The stories unfold in an impressive variety of documents and genres, from different periods: epic poems, diaries, letters, lists, and more. There are also references to real authors, including Emily Dickinson and Willa Cather.But it alternates between being too self-consciously clever (all those unique writing styles, with the historical poems hiding clues to secrets of the past as well as triggering ripples in the modern story) and too predictable plotwise, propped up by stereotyped characters and clichéd situations. And as well as the layers of fictional biography, and wondering who is speaking on whose behalf, literal ventriloquism is a recurring theme, there is a seance, and there is even po-mo musing in this po-mo book, when Roland considers “partly with precise postmodernist pleasure, and partly with a real element of superstitious dread, that he and Maud were being driven by a plot or fate that seemed, at least possibly, to be not their plot or fate but that of those others.” Roland also wonders why novels “do not habitually elaborate on the… intense pleasure of reading” and concludes the “regressive nature of the pleasure” is to blame. Too much!In the first chapter, I read this, and empathised: “His own huge ignorance, a grey mist, in which floated or could be discerned odd glimpses of solid objects, odd bits of glitter of dimes or shadows of roofs in the gloom.”For example, those deeply familiar with Victorian literature, and especially Victorian interest in insects and jet mementoes, would gain more from this than I managed.Nevertheless, this novel is a brilliant achievement. Parts of it are moving, inspiring, thought-provoking, and educational. And yet there was a disconnect between me and the words. The researchers were possessed, but I was not. Overall, I found more to admire than to love. But I suspect the failing is more mine than Byatt’s.How Does Byatt Categorise Herself?The quote at the top of this review is true of this novel, as well as the fictional biography it is describing (Cropper’s one of RHA). But what does Byatt think of herself and her works, I wonder?She wrote in RHA’s letter to LaMotte:“The difference between poets and novelists is this - that the former write for the life of the language - and the latter write for the betterment of the world.”Here, Byatt proves she is both.Thoughts on Possession and LoveAfter writing my review, I turned to those of friends. In her excellent review (here), Dolors asks "Does love inevitably imply possession?"That is a huge and profound question, deserving deep thought. My initial reaction is that people often say that love implies possession, whereas I think the two are mutually exclusive. The possession of love does not, or should not, limit the freedom of the subject of that love. Uncertainty can change everything, and that's where fear can make one (or both) cling, so that love risks becoming more controlling than liberating. The very next day, a blog I subscribe to cited Kahil Gibran's famous lines in a piece about finding the balance between independence and intimacy in long-term relationships:"Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls".Quotes about Fabric, Decor, and DressA Byatt trademark:* “He wore a long black silk dressing-gown, with crimson revers, over black silk pyjamas, crimson-piped, with a monogram on his breast-pocket. His slippers, mole-black velvet, were embroidered in gold thread with a female head surrounded by shooting rays or shaken hair.”* “The stained glass worked to defamiliarise her. It divided her into cold, brightly coloured fires… The green silk of her scarf glittered with turreted purple ridges. Dust danced in a shadowy halo round her shifting head, black motes in straw gold, invisible solid matter appearing like pinholes in a sheet of solid color.”* “Leonora was resplendent and barbaric in a scarlet silk shirt and trousers, faintly Oriental, faintly Peruvian, with woven rainbow-coloured borders.”* “Prettily sprigged curtains hung on carved wooden rings from a brass rail. Inside the front window a maidenhair fern stood in a large Minton pot. On the front door, painted a deep Delft blue, hung a sinuous brass dolphin door-knocker. There were buds on the roses and a sea of forget-me-nots at their feet. There was a frieze of bricks with moulded sunflowers between storeys. Every brick breathed fresh air; each had been stripped and drenched with blow-torch and high-speed jet, so that the house lay revealed beneath its original skin.”* “The bathroom… tiled floor was a greyish violet. With little bunches of ghostly Madonna lilies-they were of Italian design-on certain tiles, not all. These tiles extended halfway up the walls, where they met a paisley vinyl paper crawling with busy suckered globules, octopods, sea-slugs, in very bright purple and pink. There were toning ceramic fitments, in dusty pink pottery, a lavatory-paper holder, a tissue-holder, a toothmug on a plate like those huge African lip-decorations, a scallop-shell holding pristine ovoids of purple and pink soap.”Other Quotes* “Victorian dust, a dust composed of smoke and fog particles accumulated before the Clean Air Acts.”* “She was dressed with unusual coherence for an academic.”* “Letters... are a form of narrative that envisages no outcome, no closure... Letters tell no story, because they do not know, from line to line, where they are going... Letters, finally, exclude not only the reader as co-writer, or predictor, or guesser, but they exclude the reader as a reader, they are written, if they are true letters, for a reader.”* “Cold air seemed to pour down the stone steps like silky snow.”* “She held his time, she contained his past and his future.”* “Leonora was a kind of verbal Cleopatra, creating appetite where most she satisfied.”* “All stories… will bear telling and telling again in different ways. What is required is to keep alive, to polish… And yet to add something of yours, of the writer, which makes all these things seem new.”* “In Romance, women’s two natures can be reconciled… enchantresses and demons or innocent angels.”Byatt’s Novels of BiographersAll four Byatt novels I’ve read are layers of fictional biography, executed with varying degrees of success: a writer writing about writers writing. The Children's Book, 4*. See my review HERE.Possession, 3*. This book.The Biographer’s Tale, 2*. See my very old review HERE.Even her myth-based Ragnarok, 4*, is related, as it's interwoven with the life of a child who is largely her. See my review HERE.(I’ve also read some short stories.) Word PlayThese, I mostly like.* Ash (the poet), lots of dust and ashes, and researchers in the basement of the BM, aka The Ash Factory.* Possession in many forms, literal and metaphorical.* Medusa, mermaids, and serpents.* LaMotte, motte (as in motte and bailey castle) and motes of dust.* Blanche Glover (LaMotte’s companion) and gloves.Gloves lie togetherLimp and calmFinger to fingerPalm to palmWith whitest tissueTo embalmIn these quiet casesWhite hands creepWith supple stretchingsOut of sleepFingers clasp fingersTroth to kee - C. LaMotteCliché AlertThis may seem petty, but I was so swamped by how many and how often they cropped up that I want a list for future reference. StereotypesThere’s nothing inherently wrong (or inaccurate?!) about any of these, but I felt they were overdone:* Rich, brash Americans.* Feminists, lesbians, and bisexual women.* Socially awkward academics.SituationsMost of these were borderline comedy that felt out of place:* A creepy country house needing repairs.* Snowed in, in a remote place.* Car chases.* Near misses.* Convenient coincidences, essential to make the plot join up.* Digging up a grave at night.* Caught in a storm. * Legal small print.* An antagonistic pair who fall in love (very Mills & Boon).

  • Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
    2019-03-25 14:55

    I just finished reading A.S. Byatt’s novel, Possession, again for about the fourth time. It has been several years since I last read it, and I have to say that I saw it in a completely new light. It is a literary masterpiece that is exquisitely plotted and written. This time around I very carefully studied the epigraphs leading off most of the chapters and all of the beautiful poetry included in the text. I don’t know that I gave much more than a cursory glance to the poetry during previous reads. This time though, I focused on Byatt’s poetry and discovered just how much it enriched and influenced the novel’s dual plots. Regarding the epigraphs, I recommend that the reader carefully study each epigraph before reading the chapter; and then upon finishing the chapter, go back and read it again and see if you correctly figured out the true meaning of it. There are little puzzles and clues throughout the entire novel, most of them residing within the poetry sections. This is a beautiful love story, achieving a level of romantic passion, emotion, and anguish like that of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, but with the Byronic or Gothic touches of the Bronte sisters. It is clear, to me, why Byatt was awarded the Booker Prize for Possession in 1990; and that this novel is clearly destined to be a classic work of literature.

  • Maxwell
    2019-03-05 14:58

    I did it! I conquered the beast. That's a tad dramatic, but this book wasn't always the most fun to read even though I do appreciate everything Byatt accomplished. Creating this story about fictional Victorian poets, including their writings, letters, diaries, etc. is extremely impressive. But I did find it slow at times and she tends to digress a lot into descriptions that add very little to the story. I assume her own writing style was trying to mimic the poets' own writing styles, but I thought it was too wordy. The last 100 pages or so were definitely the best, and I really enjoyed the ending. Not one I'd probably ever read again, but who knows—I can see it being more rewarding on a re-read now having the knowledge of what is to come. Also this book definitely made me think a lot about poems vs. poet (i.e. the value of a creator vs. the value of their creation). 3.5 stars

  • Sarah Mac
    2019-03-12 16:03

    "With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog! Want to see my book report?" -Calvin & Hobbes (Bill Watterson)Indeed, Calvin. You speak the truth. And thanks to slogging through a sample portion of that intimidating & impenetrable fog known as Possession, I've learned an important lesson. Lend me your ears, gentle reader -- I'm about to whisper another truth that's been missing from your day-to-day literary drudgery.A.S. Byatt is smart. Oh, yes. A.S. Byatt is smart, & she wants everyone to know it. If the world refuses to listen, she'll wedge the truth into our ears with a handful of steel-plated swabs. I suspect Possession isn't a novel so much as an intellectual mercy killing, as she's taken it upon herself to correct the error of our feeble dreams -- i.e., that the common masses have received an education sufficient to understand the higher thinking of Literature. (Nothing culls the herd quite like an intimidating capital letter, right?)After suffering through the entirety of another impenetrable Byatt fog (Angels & Insects), I'd guessed myself prepared for the onslaught. But no. There was zero chance of harmonious discourse between my inferior brain & the superior Literature of Possession. It's the simple result of a simple equation: I failed to appreciate that A.S. Byatt is smart, therefore I failed to appreciate why I should give a rat's ass about these fictional academic blowhards & their bloated, self-indulgent dialogues. ...But perhaps the failure isn't all my fault. A.S. Byatt is smart, remember. My undergrad-level education & leisure reading hobbies are but a minor blip -- what hope did I have to appreciate Literature that proposes to celebrate the written word & Victorian culture? Call me a fool, gentle reader. But even after failing to meld with Possession, I'm gripped by the most ignorant of blind faiths. I believe my wounded pride shall recover. Surely those of lesser intellectual proportions can aspire to greatness -- even yours truly as she tosses & turns through another sleepless night, weeping salty tears of ignorance into a soggy, mildewed pillow.Yes, it's true. A.S. Byatt is smart. That's the beginning, the middle, & the end...so please excuse me while I post Possession on Paperback Swap. Maybe I can trade it for something I'll actually enjoy reading.

  • Adina
    2019-03-16 07:48

    This was mainly my fault. What went through my mind when I decided to read a book about a love story between two poets when I do not like poetry? Didn’t it cross my mind that there was going to be poetry in this novel? The answer is, not really. I read in the synopsis that there were going to be letters and a literary investigation. It sounded intriguing and it was a Booker winner, among which I found a few gems. After skipping quite a bit I have the following observations: 1. WARNING! Do not attempt to read this novel if you do not read poetry. It is full of it, chapters of it, and it would be a pity to do as I did, skip them as they add to the plot. I tried to read the first ones but after a few chapters I could not be bothered anymore. 2. The language is quite pretentious. It may be annoying for some and extraordinary writing for others. Like every art piece this is a subjective matter. I enjoy beautiful writing but this time I felt like the author tried very, very hard to write smart. I have to admit that I felt quite dumb reading this and I believe the novel is better suited for people that enjoy literary research and books about books. The novel was not suited for me for the reasons stated above and it does not mean that I believe it is a bad book. It was 2* for me but I gave it 3* since I skipped the poetry and some of the letters so my understanding of the novel was impaired.

  • Michael
    2019-02-27 11:07

    A fun ride that wavers between the competitive/collaborative work of two literary contemporary scholars in England and their subjects, fictive Victorian poets who had a secret love affair. The latter slowly comes out through letters, close reading of poems, and other clues pieced together by creative sleuthing. I liked how the story contrasts the cultures of the two eras and its accounting for why literary scholars often become obsessed with the personal lives of their favorite writers in order to "possess" them. �

  • Simona Bartolotta
    2019-03-07 09:10

    4.5“Tell your aunt,” he said, “that you met a poet.”This is not a proper review. This is just a list of the thoughts that at one point or another, during or after the reading of the book, struck me and got stuck in my head, of the peculiarities of this book that enchanted me, and of a couple things more. This list is not supposed to make sense to anyone but me, but I hope you will still be able to draw from it inspiration or motivation to rush to the nearest bookshop or library and get a copy of this magnificent book; those who have read it, instead, will surely understand many, if not all, of these points. I am sorry for this jumbled form, but I found, curiously enough, that if put in a more cohesive text these ideas make still less sense.- What possession, and of whom or what? Of the scholar by the poet, of the poet by the scholar; of the man by an idea, dream, castle in the clouds, obsession; of one lover by the other, and vice versa, platonically, carnally; of the listener, or reader, by curiosity, by the need to know what lies on the other side of the words and by the words themselves, the end of the story, how it is going to end. Intellectual possession, spiritual possession, romantic possession, sexual possession, narrative possession, and all of their nuances.- Mind and body and the places where they touch and where they do not, where they embrace each other and where they would tear each other apart, if only we’d let them. - The hatred, or disgust, we feel when we become acquainted with the tortuosity of our minds- and the fear, or disgust, we feel when we become acquainted with the physicality of our bodies.- How utterly ugly it can become –sexuality, relationships– between men and women, between partners, and how blissful.- Past and present running in parallel, in contrast and symmetrically.- The academic world, its clowns, it devotees, its treasure hunters and its novices.- Feminism, sometimes kindly and intelligently mocked, sometimes forcefully endorsed.- Literary criticism and categories, interpretation, virtuosity, ventriloquism, textual camouflage.- The tracing of sources halfway between a detective story and the research for an academic paper.- We never know the whole story. No one gets to know the whole story, ever, not even who writes it, not even who lives it, because even those who live it will only ever have their own perspective, and not other people’s. And to all stories, there is always another side, and another side, and another side.The only thing about Possession that I didn't like, or disagreed with, if you will, and therefore the only reason why this isn't a five-star reading for me, is (to do with) the arrangement of the narrative material. I found it difficult to come to care for the characters because the story progresses very slowly, not really flowing, due to the abundance of letters, academic documents and such, and also of POVs, even POVs of very secondary characters in whom the reader is, generously, only tenuously interested. I think that this, however, mostly concerns my personal taste and enjoyment of the story; rarely have I seen such a masterfully crafted piece of contemporary literature (or of any other genre you would like to place this book into).

  • Alison
    2019-03-21 08:44

    O.K., I finally finished Possession! Here goes.Possession is a highly celebrated novel by A.S. Byatt that contains two story threads. The first story could be categorized as historical fiction. We learn about the relationship of fictional poets Christabel LaMotte and R.H. Ashe through old journal entries, letters, and their "poetry" (the poems were actually created by Byatt, since the two authors never actually existed). Ashe was married, and LaMotte was in a relationship with a woman. But we come to find out that the two poets had a romantic affair.The second part of the story is a contemporary romance slash literary detective novel (think high-brow chic lit meets The Da Vinci Code). Maud & Roland are literary scholars. Maud's life's work has been dedicated to the study of her ancestor, LaMotte, and Roland, naturally, is an Ashe expert. Roland accidentally stumbles upon a letter from Ashe to LaMotte, and this sets off Maud & Roland's journey to the unraveling of the romance between the two historical poets. And, of course, a romance of their own (Yea!)This book is a masterpiece at 555 densely worded pages. The title and the theme of Possession run throughout the book. What can we truly know about the past? Because we read letters and journals and are able to piece together what people's daily lives may have been like, are we able to actually possess their souls, read their minds and know their secrets? What do historical biographies really tell us about people? How well can you really know someone? Won't there always be a disconnect between reality & our perception of the past when it's tainted with our personal assumptions, emotions, and biases?Maud was unclear on her emotions regarding being in a relationship. How much does our partner aim to possess us? Are we able to be a part of a relationship, yet remain free? In marriage, are there parts of our partner's souls that we'll never possess unless they choose to reveal them to us? Does being in a relationship mean that you own the other person? Is that person still a person, independent of the relationship?The two poets dabbled in the spirit world--at one time attending a mutual seance. Are the spirits of the ones who've gone on before us capable of possessing the ones who remain behind? What of demons? Can they own us and alter our destinies when our worst nightmares have come true for us?Also, literally and lawfully speaking, these letters and journals...who has the right to read private thoughts? What if the owners took pains to make sure things were kept hidden? Do we have the right to know? Because we stumble upon things, or they are left to us via a legacy, do we own them because we possess them? Is it our lawful right to know things that were intended to be hidden, or buried away? Does celebrity negate the right for privacy? All of these themes make up "Possession", and so much much more. This book is for literary junkies. It's for soulful, passionate people, and people who appreciate brilliant poetry and prose.

  • Fabian
    2019-03-10 15:04

    Basically, "Possession" is a (n outstanding, albeit old-fashioned) poet's "showcase." I firmly believe that poetry books are not worthy of sharing the same shelf space as works of fiction-- this is a merger of two arts, surely. The plot and the prose is only a pretext for getting all these snippets of poetry in a book! Byatt's possession of her characters is the novelty here: she has done something pretty outstanding, mainly giving both fictional historical poets true, clear voices. The poetry shines through, but it is unfortunately not to my taste. Dabbling in mythology and lore, some Gothic exotica--it doesn't totally astound. The Victorian poems are so droll, so irrelevant to the excitement of the modern day, that it's truly amazing just to see the way intellectuals "make love." (They aren't deliciously repressed nor even slightly interesting.)So again, I come across another highly praised (and prized) novel which is, despite all attempts at realism and Romance (an art truly left dead & buried-- but ripe for modern interpretation surely) mediocre.

  • Manny
    2019-03-27 12:55

    Brilliant literary puzzle-book, including a well-realised fictitious author loosely based on Tennyson... one of the best attempts of this kind since Pale Fire. Some people think the book is too clever by half, but what do you expect? Just as constructive to criticise Powell for including too many characters who are upper-class twits, or Proust for not making his sentences short and punchy...

  • Cindy Newton
    2019-03-18 08:42

    There have been so many reviews written about this book, by so many people much more articulate than I am, that I really don't feel I have anything new and/or brilliant to add. I will, therefore, just record my thoughts about it. I thought it was lovely. The language flows beautifully, both in the prose and the poetry sections. The story itself is intriguing, the flowering illicit romance between the poet and his poetess, and the more muted one between the scholars obsessed by them. Byatt does an excellent job of leading us into the ever-deepening waters of the mystery. It starts off as mild curiosity, and she carefully feeds the fire until it is a blazing inferno and you just HAVE to know what happens! I love how the letters reveal so much about both the characters and their deepening relationship. I did find some parts of them tedious--especially the parts about Ash's gathering of marine samples, and some of the more exhaustive description of the countryside. I daresay my impatience to find out what happens played a part in this. I thought she tied everything up wonderfully well at the end--especially the very last section, which laid to rest the anguished heartburnings I felt on behalf of Ash.I have to think that she was satirizing the world of literary criticism and academic focus on authors. It's a strange career, when you think of it. Your entire life is spent studying every detail of someone else's life. Your only achievement is your depth of knowledge about someone else's achievements. It seems rather preposterous when you really think about it. Every one of the professors whose focus of study was Ash or Christabel were (with the exception of Roland and Maud) pretty obnoxious and unlikeable in some way. They are definitely possessed by their callings, to the point where lying, cheating, and stealing become worthwhile. The title of the book was examined in a myriad of ways in the book: by the scholars, by the relationship between the poet and poetess, by the relationship between Roland and Maud, and a variety of others.I did enjoy this book, but think I may enjoy it a bit more on a second reading. I was also possessed while reading this time--by the desire to know how the mystery ends. Another reading can be a bit less feverish, perhaps.

  • Chris
    2019-03-25 14:45

    For me, Possession is like a bottle of wine or a box of really good chocolate (the really, expensive and sinfully good kind). There is an aboluste beauty in this book, and it seems to lie in the details. How all the characters still in character, the resolution to both romances at the end, all the touches about criticism - all these ring true.Over the years I have read this book, my favorite character has gone from Maud to Leonora then to both. Leonora, it seems to me, is so much larger than life, and I have to wonder if the character got away from Byatt, if perhaps, she had been intended to be more of "bad" critic than she is.One of the best and greatest books ever written. Without a doubt, a canon book. Something I re-read every year to year and a half.

  • Mona
    2019-03-11 14:48

    Artfully Told Tale of Academics, Victorian Poets and RomanceI wanted to like this book more than I actually did.Many Goodreaders really like this metafictional novel, which contains a story (and poetry) within a story. There is much to admire here.The author skillfully interweaves two time periods. One was 1987 (close to the time the novel was written), the other nineteenth century Victorian England.She not only invents two poets, but writes a lot of their poetry. The skill and brilliance involved here is astonishing.But...Most of the characters (with a couple of exceptions) left me cold.And I found both the Victorian romance and its poetry cloying, like overly sweet pastries, though I suppose this style was typical of the time.And the more contemporary romance was rather chilly.The book's title, "Possession", has many meanings. It refers to the possession of romantic love, ownership of precious objects, and the almost demonic possession that can take over those on a quest.The 1987 timeline involves a gaggle of academics. All of them are scholars of Victorian poets and writers. The author gently mocks the academics and their obsessions with ideas no one else cares about. At the same time, she makes the professors believable and very human characters.The focus of the novel are two fictional Victorian poets.One, Randolph Henry Ash, married to Ellen Ash, is considered one of the greatest poets of his time.The other, Christabel LaMotte, is less well known, primarily because she is a woman. She is also a closeted lesbian, living quietly with her lover, Blanche Glover on Mount Ararat Road in Richmond in London.Apparently LaMotte is based on real pre-Raphaelite poetess Christina Rossetti, although I much prefer Rossetti's poetry to LaMotte's. Plus their looks are different. Christina, although apparently a beautiful woman, had Italian coloring---dark hair and olive skin (orso it seems in the pictures of her). LaMotte has very fine light blonde hair (described as containing multiple shades of blonde) and fair skin.After writing each other a series of remarkable letters, which seem to be very much in the style of the time, (view spoiler)[(with only the coyest and most covert allusions to anything sexual), LaMotte and Randolph Ash have a brief affair, which wreaks havoc on almost everyone around them (particularly in LaMotte's case).Ellen Ash figures out what happened but keeps it to herself until her dying husband tells her about it many years later.(hide spoiler)]LaMotte seeks refuge with relatives on the Brittany coast. Her cousin Sabine also keeps a journal of the time.(view spoiler)[Christabel LaMotte, although clearly pregnant, disappears from her relatives' house and delivers her child in secret. No one discovers what has become of the child until years later. (hide spoiler)](view spoiler)[Blanche commits suicide by jumping into the ice cold Thames River with stones sewn into her pockets.(hide spoiler)]The academics in the 1987 timeline are all experts in LaMotte, Randolph Ash, or Ellen Ash (Randolph Ash's wife), who kept a journal.Roland Michell is an unknown London scholar. He is a quiet and reserved young man. In the London library in a book by Vico (presumably Giambattista Vico, the eighteenth century Italian philosopher and historian) he accidentally stumbles on some letters of Ash. They seem to be drafts of secret love letters. Roland uncharacteristically pockets the letters. He keeps his find secret. Roland lives with Val, a woman he met in college. The live in a crumby basement room that reeks of cat urine, and Val supports Roland. Neither of them are terribly happy with the situation or with each other. Fergus, a fellow scholar, refers Roland to Maud Bailey. (Maud had a romance with Fergus). Maud is an established authority on LaMotte. (view spoiler)[ She is also related to LaMotte, although the nature of her relationship to LaMotte becomes clearer later in the book (hide spoiler)]Maud is a beautiful, cold, and extremely reserved woman. She keeps her beautiful blonde hair under a head wrap. She is also a very competent scholar. Maud gets infected with enthusiasm for Roland's quest to find out what happened between Ash and LaMotte. The two of them decide to disappear for awhile on a secret quest to find out more about the connection between Ash and LaMotte.Other scholars get involved, some at Roland and Maud's request, others simply because they "pick up the scent" of an exciting hunt.Beatrice Nest is a scholar who specializes in the journals of Ellen Ash, Randolph Ash's wife. Maud enlists her help. Beatrice is a hesitant, prudish woman who is ashamed of her large breasts and big body. She's older (over fifty?) Beatrice feels protective towards Ellen Ash. She's not sure she wants Ellen's secrets to be exposed to public scrutiny. Roland is irritated by Beatrice's slowness. Surprisingly, Maud takes to Beatrice.Leonora Stern, a feminist professor from Tallahassee, Florida, is another expert on Christabel LaMotte. She shows up unbidden at Maud's apartment, to Maud's annoyance. Leonora has heard rumors about new discoveries on LaMotte. Leonora can be obnoxious and irritating, but still she is one of my favorite characters. She is larger than life. Proudly full figured, flamboyant, omnisexual (she is mostly lesbian but seems to be open to any type of sexual partner), she is resplendent and she knows it and plays it up. She dresses in bright colors and outrageous hippie clothing. She writes about female sexuality in LaMotte's poetry. She also tends to butt in where she isn't wanted. Of course, she is one of the characters that was not included in the Hollywood movie.James Blackadder is Roland's estwhile boss. He is a dour Scot, who turns out to not be as curmudgeonly as he seems to be. Roland works for him at his so-called "Ash Factory" in the British Museum. He is another of my favorite characters. Of course, he was cut out of the Hollywood movie as well.The last professor is Professor Mortimer Cropper, the man everyone loves to hate. He curates the Stant Collection at the fictictious Robert Dale Owen University in the apparently made up town of Harmony City, New Mexico. He greedily snatches up historical objects of interest (usually curios associated with famous writers). He wants all the Randolph Ash memorabilia he can get his hands on. The other professors all loathe him. He is not above using illegal and immoral methods to get his hands on objects he wants for the Stant Collection (or for his own secret personal collection, which he is rumored to hide in his home). He is lean and lithe and drives a Mercedes, as he has inherited wealth.Other characters include Sir George Bailey and his disabled wife Joan. (Apparently they belong to another branch of Maud's family and may be distant relatives of hers); and Euan MacIntyre, a solicitor (British lawyer). While I admired the scholarship, work, and artistry involved in putting this long novel together, as I've already mentioned, I have some reservations about it.For one thing, I didn't think Ash and particularly LaMotte were terribly sympathetic characters. Christabel LaMotte wreaks havoc on literally everyone around her, and while she does express remorse for this, it seems like too little too late. Her behavior completely turns off her French cousin Sabine, who is actually a more sympathetic character that Christabel is.For another thing, I wasn't wild about the poetry of either Ash or LaMotte, although part of my problem with their writings might have been the way the audio reader, Virginia Leisham, read them.Finally, I found many of the 1987 characters to be a bit chilly, although as I mentioned, Leonora and Blackadder are colorful.Virginia Leisham's reading of the audio didn't help matters. She gave Cropper, who's from New Mexico, an inexplicable stagey Southern accent that would have been more suitable for a production of "The Glass Menagerie" than for a guy who grew up in the Southwest. She did do better with some of the other characters. Still, I think I would have preferred a different reader. I hope my review doesn't deter Goodreaders from reading "Possession". Lots of people love this book, and certainly its treatment of the Victorian poets and of (nearly) contemporary scholars of Victorian literature is fascinating.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Kim
    2019-03-27 07:55

    I picked up this book because I had seen it in a recommended reading site and then a friend said that it was really good. But... Yes, there's a but... it took me 3 tries to get past page 10. I should have known then... but (again with the 'but') I persevered... thinking that I would eventually get into it, that I would get to the meat of it. By, page 300 I felt like I was trapped. I had alreadyinvestedthis much time into it and felt, at that point, that I had to finish it. I'm not saying that it probably isn't a great book. I'm sure it won awards and I'm sure that the writing is considered fair, but when I pick up a book called 'Possession - A Romance', I don't know... I guess I was expecting something with a bit morepassion . Maybe the fact that it had to include 'A Romance' in the title should have tipped me off. The story centers around the discovery that two fictitious 'famous' poets had an affair and thus altered the meaning of their work to the scholars that study said poets. Okay. My problem is that I never really cared about either the poets or the scholars. There were times that I thought 'Yes, here we go'. But, it fizzled. Maybe the writing is too 'proper' for me. I have no doubt that this book is beloved by many, just not me.

  • Nelson Zagalo
    2019-03-12 09:59

    Belíssimo “tour de force” literário. “Possessão” é um romance com múltiplas camadas de significação e enquanto tal merece uma análise cuidada por camada. Do meu interesse em literatura, e do que me é mais facilmente acessível, defino três que me surgem de modo evidente — romance mistério, virtuosismo, e sátira académica — mas é claro que um trabalho mais profundo de análise e interpretação literária encontrará outras camadas de relevo. Daqui percebe-se que não estamos perante um simples romance, mas antes uma obra de grande labor. Aliás, não é por acaso a sua premiação com o Man Booker em 1990, mas diga-se que também não é por acaso o reduzido número de leitores, a julgar pelo GoodReads, e pelo facto do livro ter saído em 2008 em Portugal e eu ter adquirido em 2016 ainda uma cópia da sua primeira edição.A.S. Byatt escreveu um romance académico a partir do seu conhecimento literário mas também com base em conhecimento experiencial da vida académica. Passou mais de metade da sua vida anterior à escrita de “Possessão” a leccionar Literatura Inglesa em diferentes universidades britânicas. O reconhecimento da qualidade do seu labor, pela academia, veio posteriormente à publicação de “Possessão” na forma de mais de uma dezena de Doutoramentos Honorários.Romance mistérioA história acerca-se de dois investigadores em literatura, Roland Mitchell e Maud Bailey, cada um especialista no estudo do seu poeta vitoriano — Randolph Henry Ash e Christabel LaMotte — que por meio da investigação de diferentes documentos vão descobrir algo completamente novo. Enquanto poetas mortos há muito, acreditava-se já tudo saber sobre os mesmos, quando a ponta do véu de uma potencial conexão entre ambos se levanta, não apenas a curiosidade por saber mais se apresenta, como muitas das teorias até aí tidas sobre cada um destes poetas se fragilizam, pondo em questão muito do conhecimento existente.[imagem]Paisagem de Yorkshire, onde acontecem algumas sequências centrais do livro.Acredito que Byatt, enquanto especialista em literatura, se tenha questionado sobre a estrutura a adotar para a escrita de uma tal premissa. Muito provavelmente percebendo a audiência limitada de uma história assente em minúcias de investigadores académicos, terá decidido adotar uma estrutura forte em termos de enredo, baseada no mistério e suspense, capaz de segurar o interesse do leitor geral. Para isto recriou a base clássica do romance impossível, condimentou-o com todos os ingredientes que nos fazem salivar e agitou tudo na nossa frente, obrigando-nos a ir atrás, desejosos por saber mais. Como se não bastasse, não se limitou a um foco romanesco, colocou dois poetas no século XIX, e dois investigadores no século XX, saltitando entre uns e outros, para que nunca nos faltasse ímpeto. E consegue-o, apesar do tema delimitado, apesar de uma abordagem estética pós-moderna, nunca o interesse por continuar a ler desaparece, tendo mesmo fases de alguma agudez em que não conseguimos pousar o livro.VirtuosismoFalei acima de estrutura porque é nela que Byatt exibe as suas maiores qualidades. Servindo-se do clássico discurso de mistério como dorso de suporte ao todo, são adotados múltiplos outros formatos discursivos para nos levar até ao cerne do universo criado: poético, confessional, intimista, académico. O texto em prosa serve de cola geral, mas o mesmo é continuamente ao longo de todo o livro, entrecortado por: textos de poesia; textos de cartas íntimas; textos não publicados de diários; textos de jornais; textos de artigos científicos. Por sua vez o próprio narrador vai saltitando no tempo (séculos XIX e XX), no espaço, entre personagens, e entre pontos de vista. É verdadeiramente virtuosa a estrutura, a complexidade que se entrosa para criar uma teia, que de tão perfeitamente tecida é a todo o momento completamente compreensível e digestível.Mas não é só na estrutura que Byatt surpreende, todos estes textos, todas estas vozes, todos os pontos de vista, são criados por si. Byatt pretende criar a ideia de textos pré-existentes, que vão sendo encontrados, à semelhança da tradicional narrativa detetivesca, mas aqui esses textos não são apenas referenciados, ou apropriados pela prosa, nem são tão pouco citados, retirados de outras obras. Para chegar àquilo em que resulta o todo desta obra, Byatt teve de criar universos próprios e estéticas para dois poetas vitorianos, os vários textos de jornal vitorianos, diários intimistas por múltiplas vozes, cartas e respostas de cartas, cada uma dotada de identidade própria. Temos múltiplas histórias dentro de múltiplas histórias, mas todas trabalham para uma mesma e única grande história, sendo este mesmo trabalho de união do todo, seguindo a abordagem de coerência causal, a “unidade de ação” de Aristoteles, que faz com que o final do livro seja tão gratificante, impactante, verdadeiramente catártico.Sátira académicaSe os dois primeiros níveis são de grande qualidade, é aqui que me sinto mais em casa, e desse modo quero dividir este ponto em dois subpontos: a crítica das rotinas e rituais dos académicos tão próximas da minha realidade diária; e a crítica aos modelos de fazer ciência.Relativamente ao mundo humano que habita a academia temos uma crítica certeira, começando pelo protagonista que apesar de fazer um bom trabalho, e ter excelentes capacidades, não consegue atingir uma posição estável no seio da universidade por força da sua inabilidade social. Temos assim que as Universidades apesar de propalarem uma cultura de mérito, o chico-espertismo consegue ainda vingar. A guerra entre os dois professores seniores, britânico e americano, especialistas no poeta central do livro, é também muito interessante pelo modo como espelha a diferença entre as academias americana e a europeia. Do lado Europeu, o interesse cultural, o interesse de uma nação, povo e acima de tudo do bem comunitário. Do lado americano, o interesse económico e individualista. A força do dinheiro que tudo pode, tudo consegue.[imagem]University of LondonO livro é de 1990 e reporta uma visão ainda distante do que se vive hoje, porque se nesse altura se olhava para os EUA com desdém e crítica, esse olhar deu uma volta de 180º, e hoje toda a academia europeia olha para a academia americana em busca de modelos a copiar e imitar. Hoje os gestores e políticos que regem as universidades europeias nada mais anseiam do que o poder financeiro. Daí, que o conhecimento tenha sofrido tantos revés, e muito daquilo que hoje se faz em termos de investigação acaba por vezes sendo bastante questionável.Mas a crítica à academia é cíclica, ou melhor dizendo contínua, nunca estamos bem, e ainda bem. E por isso em “Possessão” a crítica de Byatt, para além dos pontos mencionados, foca-se num problema iniciado nos anos 1970, nomeadamente ao nível de domínios das Humanidades, com toda a componente de áreas iniciadas por “Estudos”: de cinema, de literatura, feministas, culturais. Marcados pela ausência de um domínio de psicologia, ainda subdesenvolvido, dominado por uma psicanálise que de científico tinha pouco, e de esotérico tinha muito, vão começar a fazer surgir “verdades” assentes em teorizações fantásticas de Freud, Lacan, entre outros. Como consequência, a academia começa a perder credibilidade, mas o pior é que em vez de recuar, acelera e atira-se para o precipício por meio daquilo que chamaria mais tarde de pós-modernismo, que nos trataria até ao momento atual, o da pós-verdade.A crítica do livro é mais dirigida aos Estudos Feministas, mas é um claro ataque aos seus métodos, que não eram seu exclusivo, e está fortemente presente no cerne da obra, como choque mesmo, podendo passar despercebida a quem está distante destes assuntos. Assim, ao longo de toda a jornada encetada por Maud e Roland, existe a todo o momento uma preocupação com a verdade na forma de prova, com a demonstração efetiva do que teria acontecido no século anterior entre aqueles dois poetas, uma tentativa de buscar evidências que tornem claro o que se pretende afirmar de novo. E é aqui que surge a graça, o riso, já que muito do conhecimento detido sobre Randolph Henry Ash e Christabel LaMotte é de origem interpretativa, pejado de simbolismos e vieses de cada investigador, sendo agora postos em cheque e mesmo destronados pelo novo conhecimento. Mais se poderia ainda dizer, nomeadamente sobre a crença e descrença no espiritismo que surge a meio do livro, com Ash e LaMotte colocados de lados distintos.Por fim, não quero deixar de destacar uma última camada, que não analiso porque daria todo um texto próprio, e que o livro nos oferece a partir do seu título. A “Possessão” surge em múltiplas formas ao longo de todo o livro, e pode ser lida em conexão com qualquer um dos pontos acima discutidos, contudo para mim o foco esteve ligado à ideia de autenticidade. Desde o início, aquilo que conduz Roland a, na biblioteca, ficar na posse dos dois esboços de cartas, é o modo como ele define o que sente, a sensação de tocar num papel tocado e escrito pelo próprio Ash. A posse é depois definida de modos diferentes, consoante o personagem, mas existe um fascínio com essa autenticidade, que por sua vez se liga com a ideia de prova e existência. Este tema daria assim para discutir a nossa efemeridade e por outro lado a extensibilidade da mesma em remanescentes externos de garante de perenidade.Publicado em VI (https://virtual-illusion.blogspot.pt/...).

  • Mosca
    2019-03-16 14:05

    ----------------------------------------It is a special treat to discover a book that ends so intelligently, so intuitively, and so emotionally beautifully---all at the same time.This book is sophisticated in its construction and its literary detail. It requires a good deal of attention and focus on the part of the reader during its first half. And the details of its parts, the virtuosity of its styles, and the puzzles that it is assembles kept me fascinated. The writing is so good. And as the story began to grow around me, the characters proliferated and began to live. As a good number of these characters living more than a century apart start telling their stories---three, four, five, and more writing styles in both prose and poetry began to multiply. And this is not simply a display of writing virtuosity. This is a means used to enter the hearts and souls of these living characters.Work is required on the part of the reader. But the reader is rewarded with a complex interplay between breathing and dreaming people a century and a half apart. The plot is very slowly revealed. And the prose holds the attention.This is the first book written by A. S. Byatt that I’ve read. I will certainly read more. She likes people; and she has a wicked sense of humor. So, complex puzzles, beautiful prose and poetic styles, lovely romances, intelligent and important enigmas, magical journeys, and much more. This book is a gift.

  • Riku Sayuj
    2019-03-05 10:51

    Ah, did you once see Shelley plain,And did he stop and speak to you? And did you speak to him again?How strange it seems, and new! But you were living before that,And you are living after,And the memory I started at—My starting moves your laughter! I crossed a moor, with a name of its ownAnd a certain use in the world no doubt, Yet a hand’s-breadth of it shines alone’Mid the blank miles round about: For there I picked up on the heatherAnd there I put inside my breast A moulted feather, an eagle-feather—Well, I forget the rest.~ Memorabilia, Robert Browning.

  • João Carlos
    2019-03-25 08:42

    Maud Bailey (Gwyneth Paltrow) e Roland Michell (Aaron Eckhart) no filme realizado por Neil LaButeUm thriller literário - 5*Várias histórias de amor - 5*Em Setembro de 1986 Roland Mitchell, de vinte e nove anos, licenciado pelo Prince Albert College de Londres (1978) e doutorado em letras pela mesma universidade (1985), é um assistente de investigação a tempo parcial, que está à espera na sala de leitura da Biblioteca de Londres para examinar um livro que pertencera ao famoso poeta vitoriano Randolph Henry Ash: “O livro era grosso e negro e estava coberto de pó. Tinha as margens curvas e quebradiças; em tempos tinha sido maltratado.” (Pág. 9) e ”Via-se imediatamente que o livro tinha permanecido durante muito tempo sem que ninguém lhe mexesse, talvez desde que ali fora colocado.” (Pág. 10). Depois de várias horas de investigação e análise, Roland Mitchell, descobre ” (…) duas folhas completas de papel de carta. (…) Eram ambas cartas escritas com a letra graciosa de Ash (…). Ambas começavam por “Estimada Senhora” e não estavam assinadas. (…) Roland começou por ficar profundamente surpreendido com aqueles escritos, mas depois na sua qualidade de estudioso, sentiu-se emocionado.” (Pág. 13 – 14). Roland Mitchell toma uma decisão, ”Olhou à sua volta: ninguém estava a olhar para ele; colocou as cartas entre as páginas do seu próprio exemplar da edição de Oxford das Obras escolhidas de Ash, que trazia sempre consigo.” Pág. 16).As duas cartas roubadas escritas por Randolph Henry Ash, um respeitável homem casado, a uma mulher solteira que não é a sua esposa servem de pretexto para uma busca e uma investigação literária improvável unindo Roland Mitchell à académica feminista, Maud Bailey, uma especialista em Christabel LaMotte e sua parente afastada. Roland Mitchell e Maud Bailey vão descobrindo através da análise textual dos vários documentos uma série de pistas enigmáticas na tentativa de desvendar o mistério que envolve os dois poetas vitorianos, Christabel LaMotte e Randolph Henry Ash; em que o leitor vai assistindo à evolução da relação entre os dois poetas vitorianos e entre os dois académicos contemporâneos. A. S. Byatt (n. 1936) constrói a narrativa conjugando admiravelmente as duas histórias separadas no tempo – na época vitoriana em meados do séc. XIX e em 1986 – mas intimamente relacionadas, numa combinação única de técnicas literárias; com destaque, na época vitoriana em que a narrativa se desenvolve com recurso às cartas, aos diários, aos poemas, aos contos de Randolph Henry Ash e de Christabel LaMotte e aos artigos literários; e com um conjunto inesquecíveis de investigadores académicos, cujos comportamentos éticos e não éticos na pesquisa e na investigação universitária, são obviamente questionáveis, numa sátira inesquecível às instituições académicas e aos investigadores. ”Possessão” é um romance que permite múltiplas análises e interpretações – destaco uma: a problemática das relações e dos relacionamentos amorosos, quer no passado quer no presente, mesmo que delimitados por um enquadramento histórico específico, acabam por ser construídos ou reconstruídos com base em sentimentos irredutíveis, nem sempre facilmente explicáveis. ”Possessão” - premiado com o Man Booker Prize for Fiction em 1990 - é um romance excepcional, surpreendente, um thriller literário, escrito de uma forma imaginativa e talentosa, uma verdadeira criação académica, com inúmeras componentes narrativas, com múltiplas vozes, numa história ou histórias, narradas através de cartas, diários e artigos literários; a que se adicionam os poemas e os contos de Randolph Henry Ash e de Christabel LaMotte - nem sempre de compreensível explicação ou entendimento.”Possessão” é um romance que irei reler – mais cedo ou mais tarde.

  • Deea
    2019-03-19 15:06

    I met a lady in the meads, Full beautiful—a faery’s child, Her hair was long, her foot was light, And her eyes were wild............................................................ And there she lulled me asleep, And there I dream’d—Ah! woe betide! The latest dream I ever dream’d On the cold hill’s side. I saw pale kings and princes too, Pale warriors, death-pale were they all; They cried—“La Belle Dame sans Merci Hath thee in thrall!”La Belle Dame sans Merci - Keats Christabel LaMotte is a sui generis version of Keats' La Belle Dame sans Merci in prose. Her knight in shining armor is poet Randolph Henry Ash. Their story goes under different rules of morality than the story of the people discovering their story. We get to explore together with Roland and Maud the traces of these two poets Victorian love story as the novel goes on and we are given clues just like in a detective story. We read together with the scholars interested in them their love letters, we are described in great fashion what they see that inspire them to create the poems they are famous for in the reality created by A.S. Byatt.We get the feeling that we are initiated in the secrets of an arcane group of scholars and the more we read, the more we become immersed in the story that they themselves are struggling to discover and understand. We are made to believe that just like Dante had Beatrice, Petrarch had Laura, Shakespeare had a Dark Lady, there is a hidden love story behind the biography of every great personality waiting to be discovered and Christabel is more than a character: she is rather a prototype, a symbol that art needs muses to feed inspiration of male artists."I have dreamed nightly of your face and walked the streets of my daily lives with the rhythms of your writing singing in my silent brain. I have called you my Muse, and so you are, or might be, a messenger from some urgent place of the spirit where essential poetry sings and sings".As the secret Victorian love story begins to unravel, another love gets to be born: the love of two scholars who get to discover each other by sharing the same interests in the world of literature. In a world where we become more and more accustomed with the desacralization of any kind of values and in a world where we become immune to feelings of all kind, people tend to avoid love: out of fear, out of commodity, out of lack of belief that it can exist in the first place. Maud and Roland learn to love by pursuing their literary interests.I finished reading this book several days ago, but ever since I turned the last page, I miss the atmosphere of romance it created in my mind. This is one of those books that you remember every now and then after having read it and you miss it. I am not a big fan of poetry, but here it had a wonderful effect: Byatt really managed to recreate a Victorian atmosphere.

  • Roya
    2019-03-01 13:08

    DNF at page 229.I tried listening to the audiobook for this in July, but to no avail as my concentration skills are poor. Still, the story seemed quite interesting so I decided to get the book. I was so excited that I ordered it twice by mistake! I wish I'd loved this book, but the writing is far too lacy for me. I've noticed that beautiful writing tends to be the author compensating for a lack of plot. I wish there had been less poetry and Victorian dialogue. Either I'm becoming more stupid and that's why outmoded language bores me to tears or I'm just too picky. Such a shame though as I thought I'd love this. Hopefully I'll come across a new favourite by the end of the year.

  • Carrie
    2019-03-22 15:02

    I'm not sure what to say except how have I not read this before? It is incandescent in its temporal treatment of time. The multi-genre format contributes to the progression of the narrative in a way that a traditional format could not. I wanted to be on the trek of the mystery surrounding Christabel and Ash. Amazing, visual, intriguing. I loved it!

  • Tatiana
    2019-03-06 09:41

    No, can't do it. 2 hours into it and not a glimmer of hope. Man Booker Prize winner and was referred to as the best ever romance novel in one of my favorite books, but alas, I am giving up. Might be more suitable for people who love reading books about books and literary research. Or maybe I am just not smart enough... Painfully reminded me of "The Historian" too.

  • Stephen P
    2019-03-01 09:49

    It is easy to quietly read her articulated prose so well wrought as to shine in a glossed reflection if the reader looks away. It’s poeticized scheme perfectly planted. So simple for this reader to enjoy its simple tune, the easy flow of curved notes. The story of scholars dedicating themselves, their lives, to the study of Ash, his life, a Victorian poet. Immersed in the world of academics, departments, collectors, the profiteers, the dense competitiveness, some form of tenderness arising by a joint pursuit? Seeing in themselves what and who they are researching? The wisp of a thread separating life from fiction?This is where I or the text begin the slight heady swirl of a spin away, off from the silken prose. Even from the lives of these characters. Byatt mentions that…well, she mentions that words make an object.What?Sorry A.S. I know, it's a typo. It is the other way around. Why wake me from the trance of your prose though. I was enjoying lavishing in the heady atmosphere. Ha! Words are one step removed from the object; nothing but letters, their only connection is that most of us have agreed upon that arbitrary arrangement for survivals sake. However, let’s take the dresser here in my room. I can look at it different times and see it differently according to the shifts in lighting, due to the angle no matter how small a change I am viewing it from, made of ever changing atoms, molecules, etc., and is in the minutely, gradual, process of fading. I mean come on, is there anyone who can say what this dresser is apart from their experiences and associations. We are bound by these, right?You say…with words it isn’t reality you are trying to reach? But…But what then? It’s the breath of the world that the words create? Not the words themselves? This…what was it you said…parallel reality? So, this mixture of words-you say-is what separates literature from fiction, art from the accuracy of sheer representation? I know, don’t get angry A.S. I mean Miss Byatt. I’m putting it, some of it in my own words so that I remember. The way not only what is between the words but how they are woven, threaded, that can only be accomplished by a master of the craft of magic’s remembrance. I didn’t know you knew about GR, how this is the world we live in or try to live in through our books, our reading, our world transformed.Okay. Now especially that I have been humbled, I should mention more about the writing, the story, the thematic progressions. The story takes us immediately into the world of; the beauty of victorian poetry, academics, book collectors, the pure love of books. What I find extraordinary is how you make it understandable that these very same people delve into the infernal realms of every day life. The competitiveness, the backstabbing, betrayals, hoarding, and crime, and the dry and unloved lives living through and off of other lives. This parasitic gnawing to snatch a self, latching onto the identities of another. These others may in themselves be an equal amalgam of false identifications. What most of us are? To some degree(s)? Therefore the endless search for completion. You take it further and with suspense also. The desperation. These are not just collections of words, pages, books, letters, trinkets of possessions that are sought to be owned but the imperative to have a self, even if false. Something to fill the void. Anything better than nothing.I thank you A.S. You have included so much in such an exquisite way. I will tell all that your book is to be read, even more than once, and is so highly recommended.* Psst. Come closer. I don’t feel right about this and don’t want her to hear. Don’t read the Postscript. It has no place being there. The story ended just before it.