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This 1990 Booker Prize winner was second only to LOTR on the poll of what books I should take. It seemed to be popular with the visitors and I can understand why. I read this during my unfortunate delay before departure. It was absorbing and while a bit legthy at over 500 paperback pages, enjoyable. It is complex, literary, stylistically varied, and meta. There are various writing styles employed from poetry, critical academia, memoir writing, fairtales, to epistolary writing. While I found the ending just a tad too maudlin and the modern characters Maud and Roland not as well drawn out as Ash and Christabel, I liked the book overall. Byatt obviously took care in tracing the mystery aspect, and it is certainly not a conventional romance (or romances). It has many themes and interesting implements. It has academics writing not about poets, but also other academics. There’s a definite sense of meta literary and commentary beneath the surface. The idea of not only romantic possession, but that which possesses us from the long gone writers. It reminds me of Shakespeare academia and the sheer obssession academics have about him whoever he may be. Just a little thing could just how history views people and how we are enthralled, or “possessed” with the dead and ideas from and of them. I am glad to own this novel as I find that it will be immensely rereadable.

3 thoughts on “Possession

  1. I loved this book. When I lived in NY I was in a book club with people who were really good readers, and this was one of our picks…the only ones who enjoyed it were the literature teachers/students, which I found amusing. I’ve read it twice, though, and I’d read it again in a few years.

    Have you read Byatt’s short story “A Stone Woman”? http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2003/10/13/031013fi_fiction

    It’s my very favorite short story, as well as my favorite thing she’s written.

  2. I also read this a few years back and knew nothing about it but was enthralled immediately by the story. This is one of my all time favorite books. I love the mystery of it and the literary illusions and actually I quite like the poetry. Maybe I like it so much because I think I would have liked to be an academic!

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