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Archived Group Reads 2009-10 > Possession - Chapters 14-27

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The Book Whisperer (aka Boof) | 828 comments This thread is for the second half of the book. Please be careful of any apoilers that may affect the reading of those in the earlier part of this. Thanks. ☺


message 2: by Darcy (new)

Darcy | 232 comments It's funny--I think you and Silver are right that Byatt seems to think the academic curiosity about an artist's life is a little too voyeuristic. But that's weird, too, because a reader is basically a voyeur. And we're even worse, since we're utterly enthralled by the very investigations Byatt criticizes. Plus, we end up with even more knowledge than Maud and Roland do about all kinds of incredibly intimate moments, from the blood Ash finds on his thighs to the way the love story ends. Interesting that Ash consciously admits he can never ask about Blanche and Christabel's relationship--that it would be "indiscreet curiosity"--even as we read about him washing the blood away.

This comment was from the Ch. 1-13 thread. I moved it here so it wouldn't be a spoiler.


message 3: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine | 103 comments I just had to get myself a Granny Smith apple.


message 4: by Darcy (new)

Darcy | 232 comments lol. Nice one. Well, it isn't too much of a spoiler . . . hope it didn't ruin anything for you!


message 5: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine | 103 comments It was not I who moved it.


message 6: by Darcy (new)

Darcy | 232 comments Nope, I did ;) I meant your comment.


message 7: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine | 103 comments Oh! Lol!


message 8: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine | 103 comments Roland said very little. It was his first French meal in France and he was overcome with precise sensuality, with sea food, with fresh bread, with sauces whose subtlety required and defied analysis. p.334

This whole book is just like that for me.


message 9: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine | 103 comments "Prism! Where is that baby?"

I think I figured this one out two-thirds of the way through. I'm finding that this last third does not build tension so much as it obstructs my view.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 628 comments I love that play.


message 11: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine | 103 comments Susanna wrote: "I love that play."

Me too! (big grin)




message 12: by Silver (new)

Silver In the same way in which there seems to be some contrast between Ash and Ellen and Roland and Val and the differences as well as similarities in their relationships, contrasted between the old romanticism vs. modernism, in the "relationship" between Maud and Roland and their tracing Ash's trip, with the suggestion that LaMotte was with him, I cannot help but to also compare Maud and Roland to Ash and LaMotte.

As much like Ash and Lamotte, it is a much more intellectual relationship between Maud and Roland. They first met as scholars and examining each other's work to gain better understanding of their subjects, and in LaMotte's own seclusion their can be seen similarities to Maud's chosen isolation of herself.

I also find the somewhat fairy tale aspect around Maud, with her very Pre-Rapahalete "princess" hair which she feels the need to always keep concealed because of her insecurity in how others in her field judge her, and Roland trying to draw her out in enticing her to set her hair free when they are alone together, to be curious compared to LaMotte's own writing of fairy tales.


message 13: by SarahC (last edited Sep 17, 2009 04:24PM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments I think those are good observations, Silver. You are right, how does a beautiful AND seriously intellectual girl deal in modern society? The couple's intense study of the poets and their own confusion about themselves -- it is layer upon layer in this novel, isn't it?

Another question I want to ask while it is in mind --
I have in my own thoughts given Byatt credit for creating this type of fiction where there is a scholarly mystery to be solved and a modern academic(s) goes on the search. While I know Byatt may not have created it, she seems to have unleashed it. Was she the "first" to publish a bestseller of this kind? Anyone?


message 14: by Silver (new)

Silver Yes the novel is filled with complex layers which are crated by the stories within the story and the poetry and illusions and the way the past and present are seen side by side.




message 15: by Silver (new)

Silver I was looking up a movie on nexflix when I found out there was actually a movie made of Possession, though it will not be as good as the book, I could not help but be interested and added it to my movie list. It will be interesting to see what they do with it.

I was curious what do you think of Byatt suddenly changing technique and giving the reader an omniscient view of what happened between LaMotte and Ash, opposed to seeing it only through the snippets of "evidence" which was left behind for the scholars to study.

A part of me was almost disappointed, I was enjoying sharing the suspense and anticipation of Maud and Roland of not truly knowing what happened and only being able to speculate, looking for clues in the letters, poems and diary's that were left behind, and well that is what really history is. You never truly get to know the truth of it.

In a way it was almost as if Byatt was breaking the enchantment, to stick with the fairy tale like analogy used throughout the book.


message 16: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine | 103 comments Silver wrote: "I was looking up a movie on nexflix when I found out there was actually a movie made of Possession, though it will not be as good as the book, I could not help but be interested and added it to my ..."

I was disappointed too. On further thought, though, the omniscient POV may be a way of saying that Randolph and Christabel existed and had their own lives despite any scholarly interpretations, editing, and summation. They escaped the scholars, so to speak. That's thought; the feeling remains, as with you, of "breaking the enchantment."




message 17: by Silver (new)

Silver That is an interesting way to look at it. A suggestion that they were indeed truly flesh and blood humans, and they were more than just the scraps they left behind them.


message 18: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 200 comments Silver wrote: "I was looking up a movie on nexflix when I found out there was actually a movie made of Possession, though it will not be as good as the book, I could not help but be interested and added it to my ..."

I just picked up the film at the library today and might watch it tonight. I was surprised by the switch in viewpoints, too.


message 19: by Heidi (new)

Heidi I'll be interested to hear how people react to the film. I loved the part between Ash and Lamotte, but did not at all like the relationship between Maud and whatever name they gave to the male protagonist. They made him into an American and I just never bought into him as a scholar. I like Gwynneth Paltrow, but didn't like him (forget the actor.) Then again, I felt a certain weakness in the book re the relationship between Maud and Roland. Here she is, statuesque, almost Brunhilde-like and he is described as short and kind of nerdy. I never could buy their falling in love. That said, I enjoyed the book because the language was so great.
Incidentally, in the movie, Christabel is played by Jennifer Ehle, who was the splendid Elizabeth Bennett in the one and only A&E version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. She was great in thism, too.


message 20: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 200 comments Heidi wrote: "I'll be interested to hear how people react to the film. I loved the part between Ash and Lamotte, but did not at all like the relationship between Maud and whatever name they gave to the male pro..."

I'm plunging in now, so I'll let you know. They made him an AMERICAN?


message 21: by Silver (new)

Silver I haven't quite finnished the book yet, so I won't be watching the film until I am done with the book.


message 22: by SarahC (last edited Sep 19, 2009 04:24AM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Heidi wrote: "I'll be interested to hear how people react to the film. I loved the part between Ash and Lamotte, but did not at all like the relationship between Maud and whatever name they gave to the male pro..."

As I recall, they changed his nationality, but he is still named Roland. They shortened his story and Val was one of the characters that was left out. Most of the main storyline was retained, but Echardt did provide a more handsome American-type lead. I will leave it at that rather than go into spoilers.



message 23: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 200 comments Sarah wrote: "Heidi wrote: "I'll be interested to hear how people react to the film. I loved the part between Ash and Lamotte, but did not at all like the relationship between Maud and whatever name they gave t..."

Well, I watched it. Beautiful to look at, but all so very--obvious. I guess it was as deep as one could expect, and certainly easily forgettable. I'm glad I read the book first.


message 24: by Christy B (new)

Christy B (runaway84) The period scenes of the movie were beautiful, I thought. Northam and Ehle had great chemistry. The period scenes were worth it in the end. I didn't get much out of the modern day story.


message 25: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Christy wrote: "The period scenes of the movie were beautiful, I thought. Northam and Ehle had great chemistry. The period scenes were worth it in the end. I didn't get much out of the modern day story."

That was my take too. I'm going to re-rent from Netflix and just watch the Victorian bits!


message 26: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 200 comments Heidi wrote: "Christy wrote: "The period scenes of the movie were beautiful, I thought. Northam and Ehle had great chemistry. The period scenes were worth it in the end. I didn't get much out of the modern day s..."

I agree with both of you on that.


message 27: by Silver (new)

Silver Water plays an important role throughout the story, and it seems like Byatt plays with some of the mythological symbolic associations that water has. In her uses of water in the text it makes me think of the ideas of Joseph John Campbell.

Water is a central theme in the poem Melusina, and then there were the important water scenes with Maud and Roland upon the beach when they were trying to track Ash's journey and discover if LaMotte was with him. And the vivid description of the water when they run away together and are on the boat. Even the comical shower scene at Seal Court.

I was curious what others thought about the metaphor and importance of water within the story.


message 28: by Grace Tjan (new)

Grace Tjan Darcy wrote: "It's funny--I think you and Silver are right that Byatt seems to think the academic curiosity about an artist's life is a little too voyeuristic. But that's weird, too, because a reader is basicall..."

I was quite surprised to see them enter the narrative as characters after being able to know them only from letters or other characters' discussion about them. And that level of detail -- the blood etc. -- is quite startlingly voyeuristic for a Victorian romance. I have to remind myself that I'm reading a modern story about Victorian characters, and not an actual Victorian novel.

I think Byatt is ever so slyly implicating us readers in her voyeuristic explorations of her fictional characters. ;P




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