Thursday, November 2, 2017

AS Byatt - Possession

Possession is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once a literary detective novel and a triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars investigating the lives of two Victorian poets. Following a trail of letters, journals and poems they uncover a web of passion, deceit and tragedy, and their quest becomes a battle against time.

Comment: This is a book I added to my reading list because I saw it being recommended quite passionately in some site. I liked what the person recommending it said, so there it went to my list. At the end of October I finally picked it up.

In this literary novel, we have basically two plots: a contemporary one where people in an academic field investigate the work of two poets and the second plot is the relationship between those two poets which we get by reading some of their correspondence and of those around them.
This is a very detailed and well thought work, the literary aspect is magnificent and very well researched. At the same time, the fictional elements also provide a lot of knowledge and the two plots converge in a surprisingly dramatic end.

I liked the overall idea of this book. I can see and appreciate the beauty of the words and the ideas we are supposed to understand.
The literary content is rich and involves you and the plot, at its base, is fascinating. I think my biggest issue wasn't simply the confusion created in some parts nor the sometimes boring passages. I think the problem, for me, was how the language written by the author, no matter how correct, was often too pretentious and lacked enough precision to make the story easier to follow.

This was certainly a fascinating literary story with strong elements of romance but the majority of its message and beauty was lost, I'd say, among all the references, poems and descriptions that didn't become obvious if they were just part of the overall plot or the author's attempt to have a tone as academic as possible. 
I missed a more objective message, meaning, the author wasn't precise enough in some moments in the story and it was quite confusing if a certain passage was about what was happening now or related to the correspondence of the poets. I know, I know, part of the plan is for us to be able to see between the lines and come up with an opinion but much of my enjoyment of the story was lost in my attempt to understand what was happening.
It seem readers of this novel can be loosely divided into two categories, those who can fully see the magic of this work and those who can't see anything. I guess I'm in the middle because even while appreciating the beauty of the written word it was also boring a lot of the time...

The two main plots are solved differently. I liked the supposed connection between the two poets but the academic approach to their lives and work was too analytical to be fully savored until the end where we find a surprising outcome.
As for the contemporary characters, namely the two researchers/professors who are trying to find and and prove the connection between the poets, their relationship is just too weird. I suppose there is a hidden message there and one could even imagine the old fashioned ideas about platonic love giving in to modern needs but honestly, it was a bit too weird and unbelievable to be read as something one can easily imagine two professionals would do. I don't buy into the "possession" notion one is supposed to infer. Metaphorically speaking, of course!

I feel a little bad I can't manage to find many positive things to say... I did like many passages but the way things happen, the way they are described and analyzed and processed for us to read and absorb just didn't make me feel that glad I was spending time with the book. Maybe one day in the distant future I can try to re-read and my focus will be different but so far it wasn't as dazzling as I imagined.
Grade: 5/10

No comments:

Post a Comment