Author(s): A.S. ByattDownload
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 séances to the fairy-haunted far west of Brittany—what emerges is an extraordinary counterpoint of passions and ideas.Man Booker Prize Winner (1990)
Some Reviews: 4084 in Goodreads.com
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.
“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 more 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.
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.
Re-read 2018 – Focused more on Beatrice Nest in this re-read. I love this book so much, everyone is treated so well by Byatt.
For me, Possession is like a bottle of wine or a box of really good chocolate (the really, expensive and sinfully good kind). There is an aboluste beauty in this book, and it seems to lie in the details. How all the characters still in character, the resolution to both romances at the end, all the touches about criticism – all these ring true.
Over the years I have read this book, my favorite character has gone from Maud to Leonora then to both. Leonora, it seems to me, is so much larger than life, and I have to wonder if the character got away from Byatt, if perhaps, she had been intended to be more of “bad” critic than she is.
One of the best and greatest books ever written. Without a doubt, a canon book. Something I re-read every year to year and a half.
It took me three attempts to get this one right. Something about the premise drew me in from the get go. I was destined to love this book. No way around it. I was in for an unpleasant surprise. It didn’t take long before I found myself bored to tears. The language was so outmoded. Everything about it was plain difficult. I put it aside for a couple months in the hopes that it would get easier. It was still the same. I was still the same.
A couple years passed. It was always in the back of my mind. In the end, curiosity and sheer stubbornness got the best of me. There was, to a lesser extent, a hopefulness about things. A hope that despite everything I disliked, there was something here that was worthwhile, that gave it value. So with this in mind, I read until I reached the end.
There are some things that won’t change. I don’t love this style of poetry. Most of the letters between dead poets were eyebrow-raising at best and sleep-inducing at worst. None of that stood out to me. What did was the story. Towards the end, it become everything I’d wished for in perhaps the quietest way possible. Loose ends were tied off. The story was as rich as I always thought it would be. Down to the final sentence.
I wouldn’t recommend this to most people. It’s a particular book for a particular person. This doesn’t take away from it. Know yourself and what you like. I personally enjoyed this and I’m glad I gave it all the chances I did.
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