➽ [Download] ✤ Possession By A.S. Byatt ➲ – Iphoneleaks.co.uk

pdf Possession, ebook Possession, epub Possession, doc Possession, e-pub Possession, Possession 778c6b2dd0e Possession Is An Exhilarating Novel Of Wit And Romance, At Once An Intellectual Mystery And Triumphant Love Story It Is The Tale Of A Pair Of Young Scholars Researching The Lives Of Two Victorian Poets As They Uncover Their Letters, Journals, And Poems, And Track Their Movements From London To Yorkshire From Spiritualist S Ances To The Fairy Haunted Far West Of Brittany What Emerges Is An Extraordinary Counterpoint Of Passions And IdeasMan Booker Prize Winner

10 thoughts on “Possession

  1. says:

    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 and 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, I rememberthis , 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 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 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 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 itbut 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 out of this book than I ever got back then, and I can see myself getting and 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 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.

  2. says:

    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.

  3. says:

    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

  4. says:

    Literary critics make natural detectives I loved this novel I know there are plenty of arguments against it, but to me, it summed up my life in the grey zone between reality lived and consumed in fiction Whoever was caught by the passion of reading a love story that is inexhausible, lifelong, passionate, and thus unlike most love stories between people will recognise the thoughts that accompany the lovers on the tracks of fiction past Whoever considers their library their most important POSSESSION will know the excitement of adding just a single poem s perfect rhythm to a collection already known by heart , like a part in our blood circulation, as Byatt points out.Whoever has felt a novel take POSSESSION of heart and mind for hours on end knows that reading is a curse and a blessing at the same time, for it makes one feel angry about being POSSESSED by schedules and everyday life business when all one wants to do is curl up alone and take POSSESSION of the story waiting between two covers.Writers write alone, and readers read alone, Byatt says, but they are alone together And that is true Sometimes I feel lonely in company than alone with my books I never had a real life person who wanted to share my possessive passion for books So sharing these fictional characters possession is as close to a communal literary experience as I will ever get.

  5. says:

    A while ago I said to myself, I m going to pay attention to doing things that make me happy So I m going to cook creatively and read 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 , 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.

  6. says:

    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

  7. says:

    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 s Possession 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 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.

  8. says:

    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.

  9. says:

    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 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 clich d 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 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 to admire than to love But I suspect the failing is 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 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 Biographers and other related booksAll 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 of her short stories, most recently, The Little Black Book of Stories See my review HERE Another novel of similar themes to this, also 3 for me, is Sarah Perry s The Essex Serpent See my review HERE.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 LaMotteClich 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.

  10. says:

    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 endso please excuse me while I post Possession on Paperback Swap Maybe I can trade it for something I ll actually enjoy reading.

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