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Possession by A.S. Byatt
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Possession (original 1990; edition 1991)

by A.S. Byatt

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10,057217284 (4.04)627
Member:cc1158
Title:Possession
Authors:A.S. Byatt
Info:Vintage (1991), Paperback, 576 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**
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Work details

Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt (Author) (1990)

Recently added byTess_Elizabeth, Amandalingo, private library, unspuncapricorn, memccauley6, LynL, siok, ahumanist
1990s (8)
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» See also 627 mentions

English (201)  Dutch (4)  German (4)  Spanish (4)  French (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (216)
Showing 1-5 of 201 (next | show all)
The depth of the story is breathtaking - a plot within a plot. Byatt created new poems, stories and letters for the subplot, which is an enterprising on its own. There is a pleasant twist at the end. ( )
  siok | May 2, 2016 |
I was bored stiff. Byatt is simply not my cup of tea. ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
A love story and a story about literary sleuthing into another love story. Though I tried to read all the poems in this book, one could just as easily pretty much skip over it all and still get a lot out of the book. Don't be scared away by some of the ancient (to us) vocabulary either. The end seemed to be a bit trumped up, but overall a great read. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
I finally finished this book! The author's ability to create works by two fictional Victorian poets is quite impressive. Unfortunately, I found the poetry incredibly tedious to read. The overall book is very good-very clever! I definitely did want to see it through to the end. ( )
  Cricket856 | Jan 25, 2016 |
After reading "Babel Tower" I felt this book lacked the charm and edginess of Byatt's other work. Both deal with literary scholarship, but Babel Tower seemed to offer a subtle sarcasm of academia that made the topic more accessible. The characters seem to understand they are faintly ridiculous, while the Possession throng (even more absurd) seem oblivious. Plus, I found the Possession heroine much less dynamic. A woman who covers her hair because her incredible beauty would so distract men and fellow feminists from appreciating the quality of her scholarship. I am being a bit too hard on this book, which is a good read. While at the beginning the story drags, Byatt achieves an incredible momentum as the story progresses. Perhaps this criticism stems from my inability to forgive one of the main characters for stealing from an archive in one of the opening passages. :) My own brand of moral indignation. ( )
  Alidawn | Jan 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 201 (next | show all)
This is a romance, as the subtitle suggests, but it's a romance of ideas — darkly intricate Victorian ideas and modern academic assembly-line ideas. The Victorian ideas get the better of it.
 
Shrewd, even cutting in its satire about how literary values become as obsessive as romantic love, in the end, “Possession” celebrates the variety of ways the books we possess come to possess us as readers.
 
I won't be so churlish as to give away the end, but a plenitude of surprises awaits the reader of this gorgeously written novel. A. S. Byatt is a writer in mid-career whose time has certainly come, because ''Possession'' is a tour de force that opens every narrative device of English fiction to inspection without, for a moment, ceasing to delight.
added by stephmo | editNew York Times, Jay Parini (Oct 21, 1990)
 

» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Byatt, A. S.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Alopaeus, MarjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baardman, GerdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dugdale, RowenaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Galuzzi, FaustoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johansen, KnutTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lameris, MarianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lehto, LeeviTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leishman, VirginiaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nadotti, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nyqvist, SannaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Polvinen, MerjaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walz, MelanieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
When a writer calls his work a Romance, it need hardly be observed that he wishes to claim a certain latitude, both as to its fashion and material, which he would not have felt himself entitled to assume, had he professed to be writing a Novel. The latter form of composition is presumed to aim at a very minute fidelity, not merely to the possible, but to the probable and ordinary course of man's experience. The former -- while as a work of art, it must rigidly subject itself to laws, and while it sins unpardonably so far as it may swerve aside from the truth of the human heart -- has fairly a right to present that truth under circumstances, to a great extent, of the writer's own choosing or creation. ... The point of view in which this tale comes under the Romantic definition lies in the attempt to connect a bygone time with the very present that is flitting away from us. -- Nathaniel Hawthorne, Preface to The House of the Seven Gables
Dedication
For Isobel Armstrong
First words
The book was thick and black and covered with dust.
Quotations
The book was thick and black and covered with dust. Its boards were bowed and creaking; it had been maltreated in its own time. It spine was missing,

or rather protruded from amongst the leaves like a bulky marker. It was bandaged about and about with dirty white tape, tied in a neat bow. … it had been exhumed from …
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
"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.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679735909, Paperback)

"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.

Winner of the 1990 Booker Prize--the U.K.'s highest literary award--Possession is a gripping and compulsively readable novel. A.S. Byatt exquisitely renders a setting rich in detail and texture. Her lush imagery weaves together the dual worlds that appear throughout the novel--the worlds of the mind and the senses, of male and female, of darkness and light, of truth and imagination--into an enchanted and unforgettable tale of love and intrigue. --Lisa Whipple

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:57 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

As a pair of young scholars researching the lives of two Victorian poets uncover their letters, journals, & poems, & trace their movements from London to Yorkshire-and from spiritualist seances to the fairy-haunted far west of Brittany-an extraordinary counterpoint of passions & ideas emerges. An exhilarating novel of wit and romance, an intellectual mystery, and a triumphant love story. This tale of a pair of young scholars researching the lives of two Victorian poets became a huge bookseller favorite, and then on to national bestellerdom. Winner of England's Booker Prize, a coast-to-coast bestseller, and the literary sensation of the year, Possession is a novel of wit and romance, at once an intellectual mystery and a triumphant love story. Revolving around a pair of young scholars researching the lives of two Victorian poets, Byatt creates a haunting counterpoint of passion and ideas.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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