Read A.S. Byatt’s `Possession’ is one of the highest challanges a reader can face. The novel is wonderful, but very demanding, not only because its length but also its structure. I had to read it twice in order to get better all the references and magic of Byatt’s work and I still have the feeling that I’m missing many things.To put in a nutshell the novel is the story of two British academics, who study two late poets Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte. After finding some never seen letters of these writers, the scholars discover a secret love affair between the poets and start to investigate it and its consequence their lives and works. It is hard to classify this novel: it is part a drama, part a thriller and much of an analyze of the sexual behaviour of the Victorian Era and the `80s.
To begin with the title, the word `possesion’ allows many interpretations related to the novel. One of the academics, Roland, who is the first to find and steal Ash’s letters says he was possessed when he did it. Another good explanation is that he and the other academic. Maud, are so `possessed’ by the late poets that they revive the love affair. Or the word `possession’ refers to love itself: being in love is being possessed by some unknown entity. Ash says many times he was possessed by something he didn’t know when in love with LaMotte. Possession may also be related to the obsession that all the academics can have to their object of study. All of them in the novel go deeper in the poets’ lives than in their own, mainly Croppe. There are some other explanation that anyone can come up with after reading the novel. All of them can be right, all can be wrong.
As a modern work as it is, `Possession’ allows many interpretations and conclusion. Byatt’s wrtinting is very semitotic: everything is related to everything. Acts from the past still have effect in the present time. Things that the poets did in the XIX century, interferes in the life of people in the late XX.
Another effective technique used by the author is the interrelationship of verse and prose. More than creating two characters who are poets, Byatt created their work. One can read many verses and tales written by these poets through the novel, and their meaning and importance are in a higher level. Their works are clues to understand their lives and their affair. And, yes, Byatt is this good. She can created verses as good as her prose and so different that one may doubt they were written by the same person. By the way, these kind of writing reads a bit hard at first, but once you get uesd to it, it is very pleasant to have many different sources as poems and letters than the plain narrative as usuall. The poets’ letters are very vivid and beautiful, it is impossible not to be touched by their relationship and feel sorry for all the problems they have to face.
The comtemporany characters are very well developed also. Roland and Maud are the ones who face the most drastically change. Not only all the work they have developed about Ash and LaMotte have to change, but also their own private lives faces a challenge. The other three main academics, Croppe, Leonora and Blackadder, also see their working falling down. These characters are very realistic: it is not hard to find people who spent their whole lives devoted to study one single subject that they become obsessed to it.
Byatt’s prose is insightfull and discriptive. Colours have an mayor role through the narrative. She uses many shades of colours just to give to the reader the right feeling of the moment, particularly green, that seems to be associated to the female pole of the novel. The sexual tension between the characters is very subtle. The differences between the Victiorians and the XX Century people is very thin, although we think we can point it out easily. Byatt’s shows we still share some of the same doubts and fears that were so common in the other century.
All in all, `Possession’ is possessive. It is impossible not to fall for Byatt’s writing and characters. After finishing the novel you got the actuall sense you’ve read a true story. It is impossible to believe that Ash and LaMotte have never been alive and lived that deep love affair.
Originalmente publicado em www.Amazon.com em 05/03/2002