SUMMARY ✓ Possession

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SUMMARY ✓ Possession ´ 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 thItualist séances to the fairy haunted far west of Brittany what emerges is an extraordinary counterpoint of passions and ideasMan Booker Prize Winner 1990. “ Like many biographies this was as much about its author as its subject”AS Byatt has characters describing biography as “a form of religion a form of ancestor worship” She is a novelist who loves the academic approach to biography applied to fiction and semi fiction creating po mo metafiction that is rich in texture and research but which can be a little hard for mortals to digest There are two main timelines here a pair of Victorian poets Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte loosely based on BrowningTennyson and Christina Rossetti respectively and various modern academics who specialise in either RHA or LaMotte principally Roland Michell and Maud Bailey When a connection between the two Victorians is discovered professional rivalry and collaboration are at odds in the literary detective story that ensues That opens the possibility of modern romance to parallel the past culminating in rather ludicrous scenes in Cornwall The Great VentrilouistThat is the title of fictional Mortimer Cropper’s famous biography of fictional RHA described in the uote at the top but it applies to Byatt too The stories unfold in an impressive variety of documents and genres from different periods epic poems diaries letters lists and There are also references to real authors including Emily Dickinson and Willa CatherBut it alternates between being too self consciously clever all those uniue writing styles with the historical poems hiding clues to secrets of the past as well as triggering ripples in the modern story and too predictable plotwise propped up by stereotyped characters and clichéd situations And as well as the layers of fictional biography and wondering who is speaking on whose behalf literal ventrilouism is a recurring theme there is a seance and there is even po mo musing in this po mo book when Roland considers “partly with precise postmodernist pleasure and partly with a real element of superstitious dread that he and Maud were being driven by a plot or fate that seemed at least possibly to be not their plot or fate but that of those others” Roland also wonders why novels “do not habitually elaborate on the intense pleasure of reading” and concludes the “regressive nature of the pleasure” is to blame Too muchIn the first chapter I read this and empathised “ His own huge ignorance a grey mist in which floated or could be discerned odd glimpses of solid objects odd bits of glitter of dimes or shadows of roofs in the gloom”For example those deeply familiar with Victorian literature and especially Victorian interest in insects and jet mementoes would gain from this than I managedNevertheless this novel is a brilliant achievement Parts of it are moving inspiring thought provoking and educational And yet there was a disconnect between me and the words The researchers were possessed but I was not Overall I found to admire than to love But I suspect the failing is mine than Byatt’sHow Does Byatt Categorise HerselfThe uote at the top of this review is true of this novel as well as the fictional biography it is describing Cropper’s one of RHA But what does Byatt think of herself and her works I wonderShe wrote in RHA’s letter to LaMotte“ The difference between poets and novelists is this that the former write for the life of the language and the latter write for the betterment of the world”Here Byatt proves she is bothThoughts on Possession and LoveAfter writing my review I turned to those of friends In her excellent review here Dolors asks Does love inevitably imply possessionThat is a huge and profound uestion deserving deep thought My initial reaction is that people often say that love implies possession whereas I think the two are mutually exclusive The possession of love does not or should not limit the freedom of the subject of that love Uncertainty can change everything and that's where fear can make one or both cling so that love risks becoming controlling than liberating The very next day a blog I subscribe to cited Kahil Gibran's famous lines in a piece about finding the balance between independence and intimacy in long term relationships Love one another but make not a bond of love let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your soulsuotes about Fabric Decor and DressA Byatt trademark “He wore a long black silk dressing gown with crimson revers over black silk pyjamas crimson piped with a monogram on his breast pocket His slippers mole black velvet were embroidered in gold thread with a female head surrounded by shooting rays or shaken hair” “The stained glass worked to defamiliarise her It divided her into cold brightly coloured fires The green silk of her scarf glittered with turreted purple ridges Dust danced in a shadowy halo round her shifting head black motes in straw gold invisible solid matter appearing like pinholes in a sheet of solid color” “Leonora was resplendent and barbaric in a scarlet silk shirt and trousers faintly Oriental faintly Peruvian with woven rainbow coloured borders” “Prettily sprigged curtains hung on carved wooden rings from a brass rail Inside the front window a maidenhair fern stood in a large Minton pot On the front door painted a deep Delft blue hung a sinuous brass dolphin door knocker There were buds on the roses and a sea of forget me nots at their feet There was a frieze of bricks with moulded sunflowers between storeys Every brick breathed fresh air; each had been stripped and drenched with blow torch and high speed jet so that the house lay revealed beneath its original skin” “The bathroom tiled floor was a greyish violet With little bunches of ghostly Madonna lilies they were of Italian design on certain tiles not all These tiles extended halfway up the walls where they met a paisley vinyl paper crawling with busy suckered globules octopods sea slugs in very bright purple and pink There were toning ceramic fitments in dusty pink pottery a lavatory paper holder a tissue holder a toothmug on a plate like those huge African lip decorations a scallop shell holding pristine ovoids of purple and pink soap”Other uotes “Victorian dust a dust composed of smoke and fog particles accumulated before the Clean Air Acts” “She was dressed with unusual coherence for an academic” “Letters are a form of narrative that envisages no outcome no closure Letters tell no story because they do not know from line to line where they are going Letters finally exclude not only the reader as co writer or predictor or guesser but they exclude the reader as a reader they are written if they are true letters for a reader” “Cold air seemed to pour down the stone steps like silky snow” “She held his time she contained his past and his future” “Leonora was a kind of verbal Cleopatra creating appetite where most she satisfied” “All stories will bear telling and telling again in different ways What is reuired is to keep alive to polish And yet to add something of yours of the writer which makes all these things seem new” “In Romance women’s two natures can be reconciled enchantresses and demons or innocent angels”Byatt’s Novels of Biographers and other related booksAll four Byatt novels I’ve read are layers of fictional biography executed with varying degrees of success a writer writing about writers writing The Children's Book 4 See my review HEREPossession 3 This bookThe Biographer’s Tale 2 See my very old review HEREEven her myth based Ragnarok 4 is related as it's interwoven with the life of a child who is largely her See my review HEREI’ve also read some of her short stories most recently The Little Black Book of Stories See my review HERE Another novel of similar themes to this also 3 for me is Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent See my review HEREWord PlayThese I mostly like Ash the poet lots of dust and ashes and researchers in the basement of the BM aka The Ash Factory Possession in many forms literal and metaphorical Medusa mermaids and serpents LaMotte motte as in motte and bailey castle and motes of dust Blanche Glover LaMotte’s companion and glovesGloves lie togetherLimp and calmFinger to fingerPalm to palmWith whitest tissueTo embalmIn these uiet casesWhite hands creepWith supple stretchingsOut of sleepFingers clasp fingersTroth to kee C LaMotteCliché AlertThis may seem petty but I was so swamped by how many and how often they cropped up that I want a list for future reference StereotypesThere’s nothing inherently wrong or inaccurate about any of these but I felt they were overdone Rich brash Americans Feminists lesbians and bisexual women Socially awkward academicsSituationsMost of these were borderline comedy that felt out of place A creepy country house needing repairs Snowed in in a remote place Car chases Near misses Convenient coincidences essential to make the plot join up Digging up a grave at night Caught in a storm Legal small print An antagonistic pair who fall in love very Mills Boon

READ & DOWNLOAD É NATURAL-TREATMENT.CO.UK Ý A.S. Byatt

Researching the lives of two Victorian poets As they uncover their letters journals and poems and track their movements from London to Yorkshire from spir. Literary critics make natural detectivesI 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 outWhoever 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 coversWriters write alone and readers read alone Byatt says but they are alone together And that is true Sometimes I feel 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

A.S. Byatt Ý 1 SUMMARY

PossessionPossession 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. That was not what I was expecting this timeI have to admit I did not approach this book this time around with what I would consider pure motives I wasn’t in it to find things I had never found before to revisit a personal classic to explore ideas that I had left behind for the time when I was ready to connect with them in the way that they deserved I wasn’t even in it to re approach situations and characters with a new perspective of age and experienceNo I needed something from this book I can’t really think of any other way to put this really I was self medicating with this bookI’ve heard this talked about in so many different ways if perhaps not in those words by other book lovers that I know that I can’t be the only one who does this I came back to this book because of the transformative experience I had the last two times I needed to be transformed I’ve fallen into a new line of work in recent years and I well there are a lot of things that I’ve seen that I wasn’t prepared for It’s the sort of work where I’ve felt the need to create an entirely separate daytime persona to feel brave enough and competent enough to get through the day one that I consider separate from what I would consider myself I come home at the end of the day and spend my time trying to reconnect with the other person I know I am and want to continue being Some days I can even stay awake long enough to get some of her back It isn’t that it is necessarily objectively that horrible of an experience It’s just something where the vast majority of the time I spend during the day is spent in tasks that are for the most part not suited to my personality or many of my strengths It also involves things that I would personally prefer not to be part of my life I chose this job because I had become so disillusioned with the ivory tower academic path I was on that I chose the most opposite thing that I could think of to do that still fell within the realm of my skills and education After years of being shut up inside a library going crazy inside my head I got sick of the whole exercise as a merry go round of narcissistic and masochistic head games I decided I just wanted to be useful do anything that didn’t leave me time for that nonsense I think that I am useful sometimes Sometimes I help Sometimes I go home and don’t wake up in the middle of the night worried or check my email at 10 pm just in caseBut goddamn it’s just it’s ugly sometimes It’s tiring and isolating and my daytime persona is taking over and of my time There are things about her that I like and I think would benefit me if I could adopt them outside a situation of necessity But there are things that I desperately want to save about the person that I can only be after work hours which I have less and less time for What I would gain is not worth what I would lose I am lucky enough to have enough time with my other self banked right now to be able to say that with certainty It’s the only fucking reason I can write this review right now I’ve got the other one far enough at bay that I can only barely hear her screaming about what a fucking waste of time this is and what a terrible writer I am anyway and I should get back to doing something that fucking helps somebodyI reached for Possession after two weeks of working twelve hour days and only one Saturday to restore my Self I wanted it to bring me back to myself as fast as possible though I'm sure I didn't think that consciously I thought I rememberthis only when I was lucky enough to see it on the shelfThere are parts of this book that I have such a strong bodily anchored memory of that I have connected to so strongly that my body has a sense memory of what it should do at the time when I read those words I am at the point with this book where I am not only remembering the scenes and words I am doubling that over with my memories of myself reading them and feeding off of them trying to make them a part of my immediate self again It was a cycle of memory and experience one feeding off the other to bring me back make me disappear and make me whole again here in the presentI went to it looking for something that I knew wasn’t going to go away beauty I needed some beauty in my life so badly and this is how you know the disease of bibliophilia has really set in books are what I turn to when I need that I go to books to remind myself that beauty exists and it is worth something and it is a part of me no matter how much I forget that sometimes There are some books that we readers can no longer do this with Before I realized what I was doing this it was happening for years with my constant re reads of parts of Guy Gavriel Kay novels He was my go to until I read his latest novel and the spell was broken I stayed in the present and analytical that it wouldn't work again That was when I started to figure out what I was doing because then I tried reading my favorite novel of Arturo Perez Reverte’s and similarly rather than being swept away all I could see was the melodramatic dialogue and some fucked up coded gender politics that I considered writing an enraged essay about Some of this sure is perhaps about developing better taste and letting go of adolescent attachments But of it is about being so far away from what I like to think of as myself that there are days where I can’t get back Possession though it brought me back It has not disappointed me yet Parts of this book made me laugh and smile and exercise my brain in the way that I want it to be exercised and alternately it devoured me whole There were parts where I came up gasping for air and parts that I danced over lightly barely reading except for letting the pieces of a well known structure fall reassuringly into place There were parts where the rhythm of it was enough and parts where I read and re read a page again and again until I felt I had understood it on many levelsBut mostly it was all so much words words words paragraphs and pages put together in just that way Unsurprisingly perhaps for a read that looked to suck out whatever drop of beauty it could find it was the “first hand” personal accounts that stood out to me the most here the letters and the diaries each and every one of them a record of love desire becoming and stone set final regret and loss each and every one of them filtered though the love of words writing and books of the seeking narrative embroidered kind that I recognize as one of my own ”I may write to you as I write when I am alone when I write my true writing which is for everyone and no one so that in me which has never addressed any private creature feels at home with you I say “at home” what extraordinary folly when you take pleasure in making me feel most unhemlich as the Germans have it least of all at home but always on edge But poets don’t want homes do they they are not creatures of hearth and firedogs but of heaths and ranging hounds Now tell me do you suppose what I just wrote is the truth or a lie”“Today I laid down Melusina having come trembling to the end of this marvelous work What shall I say of it How shall I characterize it It is like a huge intricately embroidered tapestry in a shadowed stone hall on which all sorts of strange birds and beasts and elves and demons creep in and out of thickets of thorny trees”“At first Roland worked with the kind of concentrated curiosity with which he read anything at all by Randolph Ash This curiosity was a kind of predictive familiarity; he knew the workings of the other man’s mind he had read what he had read he was possessed of his characteristic habits of syntax and stress His mind could leap ahead and hear the rhythm of the unread as though he was the writer hearing in his brain the ghost rhythms of the as yet unwritten”“We live in an age of scientific history we sift our evidence we know somewhat about eyewitness accounts and how far it is prudent to entrust ourselves to them So if I construct a fictive eyewitness account a credible plausible account am I lending life to truth with my fiction or verisimilitude to a colossal Lie with my feverish imagination Do I do as they did the evangelists reconstructing the events of the Story in after time Or do I do as false prophets do and puff air into simulacra”“My dear FriendI may call myself your friend may I not For my true thoughts have spent time in your company than in anyone else’s these last two or three months and where my thoughts are there am I in truth even if like the May only a threshold presence by decree I write to you now in haste not to answer your last most generous letter but to impart a vision”“I have dreamed nightly of your face and walked the streets of my daily life with the rhythms of your writing singing in my silent brain I have called you my Muse and so you are or might be a messenger from some urgent place”“Oh Sir things flicker and shift they are indeed all spangle and sparks and flashes I have sat by my fireside all this long evening on my safe stool turning my burning cheeks towards the Aspirations of the flame and the caving in the ruddy mutter the crumbling of the consumed coals”“My dear The true exercise of freedom is cannily and wisely and with grace to move inside what space confines and not seek to know what lies beyond and cannot be touched or tasted But we are human and to be human is to desire to know what may be known by any meansI would not for the whole world diminish you I know it is usual in these circumstances to protest “I love you for yourself alone” “I love you essentially” and as you imply my dearest to mean by “you essentially” lips and hands and eyes But you must know we do know that it is not so dearest I love your soul and with that your poetry the grammar and stopping and hurrying syntax of your uick thought uite as much essentially you as Cleopatra’s hopping was essentially hers to delight Antony essentially in that while all lips hands and eyes resemble each other your thoughts clothed with your words are uniuely you came with you would vanish if you vanished”“I have been angry for so long with all of us with you with Blanche with myself And now near the end “in the calm of mind all passion spent” I think of you again with clear love I have been reading Samson Agoniste and came upon the dragon I always thought you were as I was the ‘tame villatic fowl’ His fiery virtue rousedFrom under ashes into sudden flameAnd as an evening dragon cameAssailant on the perched roostsAnd nests in the order rangedOf tame villatic fowl Is not that fine Did we not did you not flame and I catch fire Shall we survive and rise from our ashes Like Milton’s PheonixThat self begotten birdIn the Arabian woods embossedThat no second knows nor thirdAnd lay erewhile a holocaustFrom out her ashy womb now teemedRevives reflourishes then vigorous mostWhen most unactive deemedAnd though her body die her fame survivesA secular bird ages of livesI would rather have lived alone so if you would have the truth But since that might not be and is granted to almost none I thank God for you if there must be a Dragon that He was You”See that is the shit that matters Fuck I remember now That is the shit that started me down this path in the first place that lead me to make choice after choice that I thought was going there even if it went somewhere different That restored me again I read the letters twice and Sabine’s diary slowly once the sort of read that is three times over in reality By the time I was done my brain circuitry had slid back into it’s proper place and I could answer the sort of basic uestions that I couldn’t before I had started I felt purged like I had gone on a cleansing diet for a month This is the sort of read that cleans out all the nonsense from my brain and leaves me with what is essentially important againIt is a species of addiction it works much the same as any other I realize this But for now books like Possession books that devour me and spit me out again remade this is what keeps me in euilibrium and keeps the self that I very much want to keep around from disappearing They are my guide back I am keeping this one along with others of its kind on my bedside table I have a feeling I will need them again soonIf anyone has any books to recommend that they turn to for beauty and rest please let me know I would love to add them to what I can only call my arsenal Thank you ORIGINAL I do so hate to be predictable the girl who has victorian and victorian wannabe shelves and shelves for regency and romance and the aftermath and pretty much every other category that this would plausibly be generally shelved in except perhaps pretentiousness that's worth itbut we'll get to that later but I really do love this bookI'm going to have to go even further down the disgustingly adoring path and say that this is going to be a personal classic for me I don't argue that it needs to be taught in classrooms or become part of a modern canon or anything like that though I'm certainly not against the idea but it definitely meets the most important thing for meA different experience at every ageread This is my second read through The first time I read it was in 2002 I was 16 years old and the movie was coming out There was no way I appreciated this book beyond a few very shallow things Why 'Cause dude there was a movie coming out with some of my favorite sexy people in it Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehele and duuuude it was about hot Victorians having hot sexy smart people sexy sex and their words were as hot as their hot costumes and hot modern academics ooohmygood whoos this Aaron Eckhart hellooo getting it on over books books are so awesome Ooh look letters with smart people references in it that I understand this is so cool that I get even a little of this yay oh did I mention HOT VICTORIANS Yeah that was about the extent of my thoughts at the time I think I did cry at the end but for the most simple of reasons something that you could cry at a freaking Hallmark special on the Lifetime channel aboutNow I am only 23 but I'm old enough to be mostly embarrassed for myself at 16 though I still think parts of this book are smokin' sexy and I do feel like I'm getting worlds and worlds out of this book than I ever got back then and I can see myself getting and as I grow older as the characters do There's so much in here that leaped off the page and spoke to me and both my every day little problems and the bigger opinions and feelings that I have about the larger things in life And I know there are still vast things in here that I missed things that I don't think I uite understand yet or call bullshit at at the moment that I just know will be of comfort to me when I pick this book up again in ten years or so in twenty years in thirty years And the fact that I know that I'm going to do that that I expect my copy to wear out and that I'll have to get a new one before I die well that speaks volumes doesn't it This particular read I really attached onto the characters struggling to find out what to do with themselves what they were worth after the life prescribed by their parents and other authority figures ends those characters trying to deal with what other people expect them to be as opposed to how they see themselves creating the narrative of your own life being your own person in a relationship and the connections I keep making between this book and the ideas in Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own There's a fascinating fight over spiritual beliefs that I don't have the headspace to deal with now but is haunting the back of my head and I expect to be obsessed with it the next time I read itSo yeah that's what the good books should do to youThere's also other things like all the fascinating things she deals with in the book I mean just to rattle off a few feminism post modernism living in a post modern world deconstructionism many many issues of religion and spirituality cultural relativism and archetypes living in a globalized world negotiating the self in relationships the academic life and petty infighting etc etc And I do mean etc etc etc because there's tons in here that I'm not even bringing up and probably tons that I missed Which is why I think this book is a gold mineNow a lot of people say that they abandon this book because they find it too pretentious or too self gratifying etc I don't really think that's the case I think a lot of the things that could be deemed 'pretentious' are being used by Byatt to make fun of the ridiculousness of some of the characters within who are indeed pretentious Maybe it is just the subject matter I don't know how you avoid pretentiousness when you're writing about overeducated Victorian people with literary tendencies It probably does tend to go to your head the way that all works I can see that putting people off to begin with but if you picked up the book already knowing it was about Victorian poets and suabbling Victorian scholars then I would think you'd be prepared for that kind of thing and be able to wade through it Are all the full length Victorian style poems she includes pretentious Probably But man if I could do that I would want to do that too And it isn't as if they are pointless Most of the poems are clues to the mystery clues to the characters themselves especially as they get longer they're not just there to create an ambiance Plus we hear so much about the poems and other peoples' interpretations of them its great to actually see the real things and judge for ourselves and fits really well into the theme about people creating their own narratives out of the past according to their present needs and I think reflects cleverly back on the reader For me all of that pretentiousnes is worth it and I find it all brilliant that's just my response to it I usually think agree to disagree is bullshit but when you get into literary experimentation I think that's the only way to come out aliveSo anyway I tore through this in four insanely obsessed days and this on a re read So if you're into this kind of thing leap right in Leap I tell you It's the way to read this one