November 9, 2013

A.S. Byatt: Possession

Posted in Uncategorized at 23:58 by Miracle

“Do you never have the sense that our metaphors eat up our world? I mean of course everything connects and connects – all the time – and I suppose one studies – I study – literature because all these connections seem both endlessly exciting and then in some sense dangerously powerful – as though we held a clue to the true nature of things?”

¤ ¤ ¤

It lay there among the books that had toppled off from the shelves during the recent earthquake; one of the remnants of my online bookshop; and it suddenly appealed to me like never before – Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt.

I wonder why I was content with shelving this book for several years before deciding to read it. (Oh, but I suppose I do know why: It was the word “romance” – despite being written by A.S. Byatt, despite the cover not featuring a sinewy half-naked man and a sultry woman in a mawkish setting.  The hesitation that the word “romance” produced in me had been psychological, but this time I finally convinced myself that it could not possibly belong to that particular genre of books which I honestly quite loathe.  And it doesn’t.  To my great relief, it doesn’t. This novel is intelligently romantic.  In fact, it has exceeded my expectations and I feel properly penitent for my former distrust.

And oh, the passages on writing! “A writer only becomes a true writer by practicing his craft, by experimenting constantly with language, as a great artist may experience with clay or oils until the medium becomes second nature, to be moulded however the artist may desire.”

Not every female author can write about romance without succumbing to mush and excess female sentimentality, but this is written with total proficiency in femininity, poetry, and literary allegories that reading it does not dumb the reader down with melodrama but strengthens one’s perception of literature and, of course, possession.

But I must admit half-reading and half-daydreaming throughout this book, what with the charged correspondence between two poets of the Victorian era who “understood each other uncommonly well” and the blossoming alliance between the two modern scholars studying their lives.

It is also an exploration of relationships; of people who simply stay together because one already owes the other too much, of those who take hold of someone out of will and calculation and not desire, of those who deceive another and those who deceive themselves, of those who are committed to each other but whose minds are unmarried – but all of them frustratingly professing “love” to each other! (And I see this often in life outside book-covers!)

But oh, to have someone’s true thoughts spend more time in your company than in anyone else’s; to love and give the beloved freedom; to love with “a love so much refined… inter-assured of the mind…” =)

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Filed under Life Betwixt Book Covers
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