Saturday, January 24, 2009

Possession by A S Byatt (5/81)

Roland Michell and Maud Bailey, two rather unfulfilled young literary scholars, unexpectedly become figures of romance as they discover a surprising link between the two poets on whom they are authorities. Byatt deftly plays with literary genres--Romantic quest, campus satire, detective story, myth, fairy tale--as Maud and Roland become deeply involved in the unfolding story of a secret relationship between the Victorian poets Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte. The young people's quest inevitably attracts the jealous attention of the competitive academic world, and all too soon the quest becomes a chase. Byatt's staggering technical ambition and her powerful romantic vision are tributes to the great Victorian age, which the novel brings to life. "For the Victorians, everything was part of one thing: science, religion, philosophy, economics, politics, women, fiction, poetry," Byatt says. "They didn't compartmentalize--they thought BIG"

''The book,'' Ms. Byatt writes, ''was thick and black and covered with dust. Its boards were bowed and creaking; it had been maltreated in its own time. Its 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.''

I have to say I have been dying to dive into this book for a while and although it did take me a little bit to get into it I really enjoyed it .... I have to say that it is not for the faint hearted as the language sometimes is difficult but if you take your time with the novel it is really well written ...

The Title of the novel is POSSESSION and it is really adeptly named ... As throughout the book you can see how people wish to Possess either other people or possessions as their own .... And feel that they have a rightful claim .........

If you are a lover of Poetry then you will adorn this book as it is littered with short and long verses ... And it is very cleverly written with the poems of the so called Victorian Poets Ash and LaMotte ......

It does beg the question of the things we write down and record mainly journals and letters can give a get insight into the person ... And the novel is like one big jigsaw puzzle which Roland and Maud both scholars in their own right race to piece it all together ...

It is a romance story and how because of a two unfinished letters written by Ash suddenly open up a whole new world ...... And because of these letters your assumption of Ash changes and you then view his poetry with a different eye !!! It is a love story between two Poets who for a brief moment find each other but can never let that secret become public knowledge ...

I have a few favourite quotes ...

"I have called you my Muse, and so you are, or might be, a messenger from some urgent place of the spirit where essential poetry sings and sings. I could call you, with even greater truth - my Love - there, it is said - for I most certainly love you and in all ways possible to man and most fiercely. It is a love for which there is no place in this world - a love my diminished reason tells me can and will do neither of us any good, a love I tried to hide cunningly from, to protect you from, with all the ingenuity at my command" Pg 193
I must tell you - ever since that first meeting, I have known you were my fate, however from time to time I may have disguised that knowledge from myself" Pg 192

"All creation rushed round us out there - earth, air, fire, water, and there we were, I beg you to remember, warm and human and safe, in the circle of the trees, in each other's arms, under the arch of the sky."

"They say that woman change: 'tis so: but you
Are ever-constant in your changefulness.
Like that still thread of falling river, one
From source to last embrace in the still pool
Ever-renewing and ever-moving on
From First to last a myriad water-drops
And you - I love you for it - are the force
That moves and holds the form.
R H Ash, Ask to Embla, XIII "

I feel that this is a book to be enjoyed slowly and to be discussed but I did enjoy it ...

I rate this book 3 1/2 Stars

Here's the movie trailer to the book ... As with Hollywood they have spiced it up .... In the book it eludes to their relationship but doesn't need to go into details left to your imagination .....

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