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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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9,786207295 (4.05)607
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Title:Possession
Authors:A.S. Byatt
Info:Vintage (1991), Paperback, 576 pages
Collections:Your library
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Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt (Author) (1990)

1990s (13)
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English (191)  Dutch (4)  German (4)  Spanish (4)  French (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (206)
Showing 1-5 of 191 (next | show all)
Well, what can I say about Possession. It's one of those books that I wanted to get to the end, to see what became of all the characters, but at the same time I didn't want it to end because I truly enjoyed it. That being said, there were a few things about the book that I wasn't so fond of.

Possession is simultaneously the story of two 20th century literary scholars, Roland and Maud, on the trail of a mystery of sorts involving two 19th century poets, Randolph Ash and Christabel LaMotte. The story unravels both in the book's present time and a bit in the past. There are also letters and journals to give readers insight into the lives of these 19th century poets. I think that was my favorite part of the book. The chapter that includes all of the letters shared between Christabel and Roland was just beautiful.

Now for what I didn't like. First, the backstories of Mortimer Cropper and Beatrice Nest, two relatively minor characters, didn't seem to contribute much to the overall story. Second, Roland and Maud seemed to me very wooden, emotionless characters. In opposition to Randolph and Christabel, whose letters were full of feeling and passion. I just felt like I didn't even know who Roland and Maud were when I reached the end of the book.

All in all, though, this is the best book I've read in a while. ( )
  Shannon29 | Jun 25, 2015 |
Lost me when I thought the soon to be lovers material visiting the country estate was toooo pop-py. I bailed after a hundred pages. Not quite Harlequin maybe; I d like to hear from Alethea Spiridon, editor and connaisseur of historical romances, what she thinks. She loved Susan Sontag's historical romance (!) on Admiral Nelson's inamorata Mrs. Hamilton and her cuckolded ambassador tuned-out collector scholar husband. ( )
  ted_newell | Jun 20, 2015 |
This title was Eva's choice for the genre of romance and our last book before summer. We ate at Pfeffermuhl. The book created some of the best discussions we've had, but also felt like something we would read at university and deconstruct to obtain the author's intentions. Colleen was absent and 2 had not finished reading the book. The first 60%+ is pure plowing, but the last part was good reading. Eva called this a "romance of the archive" to ferret out a mystery. ( )
  Bibliofemmes | May 30, 2015 |
This is much better than The Game. One of the major problems with that novel was the appalling dialogue. This book has hardly any. Byatt's learnt to play to her strengths. A very clever novel. The sort of thing you'd need to read more than once to pick up everything. Some of the textual extracts are frankly boring, though always convincing. I had to google Ash to check he wasn't a real, if obscure Victorian poet. I liked the correspondences between characters from different time-frames. There's a clever scene halfway through where I wasn't sure who she was talking about. The novel left me a little cold; an effect of Ash and LaMotte being off-stage for much of the time, but there's some beautiful prose to make up for it. ( )
  Lukerik | May 15, 2015 |
I did read this, and I didn't care for it. I remember it as being needlessly dense and show-offy. ( )
1 vote sturlington | Feb 25, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 191 (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 (44 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Byatt, A. S.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Alopaeus, MarjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baardman, GerdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Byatt, A. S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dugdale, RowenaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johansen, KnutTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lameris, MarianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lehto, LeeviTranslatorsecondary 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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