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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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9,362None315 (4.05)535
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Title:Possession
Authors:A.S. Byatt
Info:Vintage (1991), Paperback, 576 pages
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Possession by A. S. Byatt (1990)

1001 (69) 1001 books (62) 19th century (90) 20th century (171) academia (126) Booker (93) Booker Prize (205) Booker Prize Winner (82) British (198) British literature (115) contemporary fiction (58) England (185) English (59) English literature (101) fiction (1,732) historical (85) historical fiction (306) literary fiction (91) literature (209) love (77) mystery (115) novel (304) own (64) poetry (218) poets (56) read (133) romance (378) to-read (202) unread (96) Victorian (147)
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English (174)  German (4)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (186)
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
Overall - VERY BORING and SLOW! Lots of letters and poems... Last chapter was the best - honestly. ( )
  KatieCarella | Apr 12, 2014 |
Bah. By page 40, I was exasperated. By page 100, I knew that another 455 pages would drive me nuts, so I stopped. This is an author in love with the sound of her own voice, which is a much different thing than an author in love with language. ( )
  blitheandbonny | Apr 6, 2014 |
Possession by A.S. Byatt (Vintage International, 1990) is written in a complicated structure, interwoven with Victorian poetry, prose and letters. Weaving two separate stories from two different time periods, Possession explores the contrast between male and female relationships of the past versus today and how society's perception of acceptable behavior has developed. Read more at http://thekeytothegate.blogspot.com/2014/03/possession-by-as-byatt.html ( )
  rebeccaskey | Mar 20, 2014 |
Perhaps I've been out of academia too long to actually enjoy this. Or possibly I had too high of hopes for this book that had been recommended to me by a few people. ( )
  Brainannex | Mar 2, 2014 |
This book tells the story of two modern day literary scholars' discovery of a relationship between two historical poets. Sounds boring? Well, it is a bit. However, the story gets more compelling as it goes on, and by the end if it is quite gripping, as the true tale of what happened unfolds, and other modern day interests compete to 'break' the story. I think it would be most suited to literary scholars, because there are some references to textual analysis etc. (although not so many that you can't follow it). I did find it a bit tedious in parts, mainly because the reader is taken along on the journey of discovery, so there are many letters to trawl through. This has the advantage that you can make your own judgements about what happened because you also see the source material, but it can be a bit slow at times. Overall though, I enjoyed the book. I'm a big fan of A. S. Byatt, and I love the way she weaves a story through time, place and different characters with their own motivations. ( )
  kmstock | Mar 2, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 174 (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 (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Byatt, A. S.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Alopaeus, MarjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baardman, GerdaTranslatorsecondary 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.
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:56 -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 5 descriptions

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