August 23, 2009

IT HAS VERY NEARLY NO CHALLENGERS FOR THE TITLE OF GREATEST CHICK BOOK EVER:

Classic book review: Possession: A.S. Byatt's stunning novel about books and their readers. (Thomas D'Evelyn, Nov. 16, 1990, CS Monitor)

“Possession” is about reading. The characters all read the fictitious Victorian poet Randolph Henry Ash. In varying degrees, they have bought into the Ash industry that has grown up in England and as far away as New Mexico. The title “Possession” refers not only to the romantic plot, but also to the legal problems that arise with the discovery of new manuscripts by the poet.

The manuscripts are letters to a woman, a poet hitherto unconnected to the hitherto unblemished Ash. The finder of the letters is a mild young scholar named Roland. He is just about to give up scholarship for something that pays, as his girlfriend Val has already done. Through his discovery, Roland meets the beautiful, self-possessed Maud (who specializes in the person Ash corresponded with, the poet Christabel LaMotte).

Before the novel is over, everybody interested in either Ash or Christabel – scholars and “poetic trippers” alike – becomes involved in the hunt for missing evidence as to the nature of their relationship. The book surveys contemporary academic styles with fastidious glee.



Posted by Orrin Judd at August 23, 2009 7:00 AM
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