Book 3 of 50 – Possession

Possession (affiliate link) by A. S. Byatt is a tour de force in many ways. At almost 600 pages, this book makes it difficult for anybody to finish in one week. Besides, by the time I read 25% of it, I was thoroughly confused.

Possession on Kindle

The cover of Possession on my Kindle

There is so much poetry and there are two timelines going on at the same time: 1990 and Victorian era. Metaphors abound and lots of British words and destinations. A. S. Byatt is, after all, a Britist woman.

As the weekend was approaching rapidly, I wondered if I could perhaps watch the movie and understand more of the plot. I do not mind spoilers. There is so much poetry and metaphor in this novel, that I needed help appreciating it by not having to wonder about the denouement.

My husband agreed to watch the movie with me and he really enjoyed it. Possession is a rare bird: a movie which both men and women can appreciate. So there you go, that is what you could do on your next date night with your hubby: watch Possession (2002, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jennifer Ehle) on Amazon Prime. You are welcome.

Suspense, drama, romance – this story has it all. (Do not confuse it with horror flicks by similar titles.) Byatt received the Booker Prize for this book, along with many accolades and, obviously, a Hollywood paycheck for the movie rights. I read it through Libby on my Kindle. Honestly, I skipped a lot of the poetry and the descriptions, in order to finish the book in a week.


Some Fragments

The writing moved me many times and I highlighted lots of sentences. Here are just a few:

  • The individual appears for an instant, joins the community of thought, modifies it and dies; but the species, that dies not, reaps the fruit of his ephemeral existence.
  • … the tiresome and bewitching endlessness of the quest for knowledge…
  • He thought often, in his dim place, of how a man becomes his job.
  • My Norfolk grandmother told me too much education spoilt a girl for a good wife.
  • Young girls are sad. They like to be; it makes them feel strong.
  • What could survive our education.
  • For 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.
  • Why could she do nothing with ease and grace except work alone, inside these walls and curtains, her bright safe box?
  • …drugget? said Roland’s word-obsessed mind…
  • You may forbid me cucumber sandwiches, but not spiritual sustenance.
  • Yours to command in some things.
  • Women are known for strong and irrational alterations of temperatment, he said. Women are. Feminists use that argument about car accidents and exams…
  • If the Tale of Noah’s Deluge turns out to be a fine poetic invention, shall I, the wife of a great poet, thereby cease to pay attention to its mesage about the universal punishment of sin?
  • Do you never have the sense that our metaphors eat up our world?
  • … the word for waist in Italian is vita, is life…
  • Where is the child? he asked. But Mr. Ash is childless.
  • O love, be fed with apples while you may.
  • God bless the Xerox machine.
  • How true it was that one needed to be seen by others to be sure of one’s own existence.
  • Fifteen cats. The cats were coming after him.
  • I felt possessed. I had to know.
  • People treat you as a kind of possession if you have a certain sort of good looks.
  • Her self-possession, her autonomy.
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