|Possession: A.S. Byatt
||[Jun. 11th, 2012|05:44 pm]
A Victorian tragic romance folded up inside a modern romantic comedy- rather beautiful and quite extraordinarily clever with all its mirrorings, doublings and post-modern self awareness. If Charlotte Bronte had come after Joyce and Nabokov- instead of so long before them- this is the sort of thing she might have written. |
Just one note of regret: the poems ascribed to the imagined Victorian protagonists don't quite work. They are the simulacra of poems, not really poems at all. Poetry is one thing you can't fake- not even if you are a wonderfully skilled writer of other things. Real poems have an inner life- a certain vitality of language- which these cleverly-crafted pastiche poems almost entirely lack.
Ha! A close-in branch of the Free Library has it. I may go scarf it up this afternoon.
The poetry won't bother me. I skip over the poetic bits in most things. They might as well be written in Elvish for all the attention I pay to them.
It's jolly good.
You can't entirely avoid the poems. They're integral and full of clues.
I couldn't stand the poems. Loed the rest, but hated the poetry. And, as you've pointed out, you can't ignore them, unfortunately.
The poems are very clever creations, but not poetical. It wouldn't matter so much if we weren't supposed to believe that Ash (at least) was a great poet.
Did you catch the radio dramatisation a while back? I'm not sure whether all the poems were included. I listened, but patchily.
Did you catch the radio dramatisation a while back?
Who were the primary actors?
Jemma Redgrave (Maud), Harry Hadden-Paton (Roland), James D'Arcy (Ash), Rachel Stirling (La Motte).
I didn't. But I can imagine it working rather well.
If Charlotte Bronte had come after Joyce and Nabokov- instead of so long before them- this is the sort of thing she might have written.
I bounced entirely off Possession
when I read it in college; I fell in love with her only because I re-read Angels & Insects
keeps telling me to try it again for the way Byatt writes the sea.
I read Elementals a few weeks back. That's full of the most amazing evocations of place and light and weather. I think she's been honing her descriptive skills since writing Possession.
I read Elementals a few weeks back. That's full of the most amazing evocations of place and light and weather.
I am fond of Elementals—I'm not sure I've managed to find a copy of my own, but I adore "Crocodile Tears" and "Cold" was one of the first things of hers I ever read.
I think she's been honing her descriptive skills since writing Possession.
How did you feel about The Children's Book, which is full of material culture and art?
I just finished Possession and I skipped most of the poems to read for plot -- or, rather, for divergence between book and film. But I skimmed a couple of the poems, and although I don't especially think they work as poems I can see they are a necessary part of the work.
So I'll go back and read it again, with poems. There's plenty in there to merit subsequent reading(s). Plus, I am finding that I want to possess this book, in several senses of the term.