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Archived Group Reads 2009-10 > Possession - Chapters 1-13

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The Book Whisperer (aka Boof) | 828 comments This thread is for our first neo-Victorian group read:

Possession A Romance by A.S. Byatt


toria (vikz writes) (victoriavikzwrites) just started and it seems interesting. Look forward to reading this book and talking about it.


message 3: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Someone is going to have to calm me down because when I saw the poetry I started to freak out. But I think it was either Scott or Everyman that said you read the poetry, read the chaper, then read the poetry again and it will make more sense. Is that right whoever posted that? I need all the help I can get. :)


message 4: by Scott (new)

Scott Ferry | 132 comments I am having to keep telling my mind that the poetry of Randolph Henry Ash is the work of Byatt. Out of habit I keep wanting to think he is a real poet.

I found this audio recording of A.S. Byatt reading and answering questions (First broadcast March 2004 - bbc)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/ch...


message 5: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (last edited Sep 01, 2009 08:30AM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Rebecca wrote: "Someone is going to have to calm me down because when I saw the poetry I started to freak out. But I think it was either Scott or Everyman that said you read the poetry, read the chaper, then read ..."

Rebecca, I think that was my comment; and it was associated with the epigraphs - the stanza or two of poetry that leads off each of the chapters. Definitely read each of these carefully; and then as you the chapter you may find that the epigraph has provided a clue or two. When I finished each chapter, I went back and re-read the epigraph and make sure that I had gotten the gist of it. The poetry that is included is very important to the plot too.

Take your time, and savor this novel; it is well worth the careful and deliberate read. It is a beautifully written and plotted novel. Cheers!


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Scott wrote: "I am having to keep telling my mind that the poetry of Randolph Henry Ash is the work of Byatt. Out of habit I keep wanting to think he is a real poet.

I found this audio recording of A.S. Byatt..."


Scott, thanks for sharing the link! Very interesting! Cheers! Chris


message 7: by Silver (new)

Silver Scott wrote: I am having to keep telling my mind that the poetry of Randolph Henry Ash is the work of Byatt. Out of habit I keep wanting to think he is a real poet.

Haha at first I thought it was a real poet and I tried to google him to find out he was in fact an invention of Byatt.

I am on the 4th chapter right now, and so far I am finding the book to be quite interesting, parts of it kind of remind me of a few other things I have read. In a way it makes me think of the Aspern Papers by Henry James. I look forward to reading more, and to the discussion of this book.


message 8: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Christopher wrote: "Rebecca wrote: "Someone is going to have to calm me down because when I saw the poetry I started to freak out. But I think it was either Scott or Everyman that said you read the poetry, read the ch..."

Sorry I couldn't remember. Thanks for the refreshing. I was thinking also that it looks like one to be savored. Cheers Chris.


message 9: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (last edited Sep 02, 2009 09:14AM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Anna wrote: "Rebecca wrote: "Someone is going to have to calm me down because when I saw the poetry I started to freak out. But I think it was either Scott or Everyman that said you read the poetry, read the ch..."

Anna, you absolutely have the right of it! My last read of Possession was so incredibly enriched as I carefully studied and contemplated the poetry of 'Randolph Ash' and 'Christabel LaMotte.' Additionally, there are numerous references to the great Romantic and Victorian poets throughout too; so, it is helpful (if one has the time and inclination) to keep a good compendium of English poetry nearby. The next thing you know, you'll find yourself reading the poetry of Wordsworth, Christina Rossetti, Tennyson, and Robert Browning. Possession is a novel that truly appeals to the intellectual side of each of us! Cheers! Chris


message 10: by Scott (new)

Scott Ferry | 132 comments Christopher wrote: "Anna wrote: "Rebecca wrote: "Someone is going to have to calm me down because when I saw the poetry I started to freak out. But I think it was either Scott or Everyman that said you read the poetry..."

Chris, Which poetry style does Randolph Ash's work most resemble in your view? Tennyson or Browning or ?



message 11: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (last edited Sep 02, 2009 09:25AM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Scott wrote: "Christopher wrote: "Anna wrote: "Rebecca wrote: "Someone is going to have to calm me down because when I saw the poetry I started to freak out. But I think it was either Scott or Everyman that said..."

Excellent question, Scott! I have given this some thought too. Personally, I think that Byatt's 'Ash' poetry has strong similarities to both of these prominent poets. I saw some relationships to the style and structure of Tennyson's Maud: A Monodrama and to In Memoriam A.H.H.; but there's definitely a nod to Browning's bleak epic Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came (note the name of the novel's 'Roland' Michell to Browning's 'Childe Roland'). Finally, have a look at Charles Swinburne's The Garden of Proserpine. Swinburne was also one of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's best friends, and heavily involved in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood movement.

The point is, I think, that Byatt, throughout this novel, is paying literary homage to the great poets that were important to Victorian society (and still are today) including the Romantics (e.g., Keats, Byron, Coleridge, and Wordsworth, et al.), and the contemporary poets of the day (e.g., Tennyson, the Brownings, the Rossettis, et al.). Consequently, it is my opinion that the poetry that she wrote for this novel has been written to emphasize this special relationship that Victorian readers had with poetry; and maybe she's trying to point out to all of us that we are missing something by not having poetry as an important part of our current literary experiences.

Finally, with respect to the poetry of 'Christabel LaMotte,' her poetry, to me, is a pastiche of the beautiful and very emotional work of Christina Rossetti and Emily Dickinson's amazing poetry. Even the name 'Christabel' is a direct nod to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's magical and mystical (uncompleted) epic, Christabel. Read that poem and then think about the novel's characters, 'Christabel LaMotte' and 'Blanche Glover.' Also, I would urge you to keep the title of the novel in mind as you read the book - it is the 'key' to the novel's 'lock.'

Happy reading! Cheers! Chris


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) For those who are interested, Random House, the publishers of Possession has developed a wonderful 'reader's group guide' which may help you as you read the novel. I have a dog-eared, scribbled-up copy in my edition of Possession, and just found that it is available on-line now too. It really helped me to dig into the many layers and nuances of the novel as I read.

Here's the link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/di...

Cheers! Chris


message 13: by Scott (new)

Scott Ferry | 132 comments Thanks Chris!! The reader's group guide is interesting, I am printing it out now to keep with me.



message 14: by Scott (new)

Scott Ferry | 132 comments I will search out Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Christabel. Thanks for the pointer. I found this last weekend a Browning book of collected poems. Maybe I will go back and pick it up.


The Book Whisperer (aka Boof) | 828 comments Chris, thanks so much for the link and also the info about the poets; really appreciated and I'm sure everyone will agree.

I have read about 30 pages so far (I was curious over the weekend but I still have about 4 other books that I need to finish up before I can really get into it). My first impressions are:

I loved the first few pages about dusty books in library's (a bookaholics wet dream). I definitely agree that this will be one to savour and I don't think it will be a quick read either. I have enjoyed what I read so far and look forward to the rest but I will definitely be greatful for any help/insights just as Rebecca would with regards the poetry etc and I have only ever read Christina Rossetti (read her selected works and loved it).


message 16: by Silver (new)

Silver Yes, I agree, it is an interesting book, but not one that will be quick to read through, it is quite invovled, and a bit dense, but I do look forward to it.

From what other's have said, I will have to start paying even greater attention to the poetry within the book. I have alwyas been a fan of the Victorian poets as well as the Romantics who are alluded to within the book.


message 17: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca LOL Boof so true I loved the dusty book part too. :)


message 18: by Silver (new)

Silver I find the poetry of Cristabell to be quite interesting, she does pose a rather intriguing figure. I cannot help but to wonder at the importance that fairy tales seem to play within her work.

Though the more I read of the book, and considering some of the references in Cristabell's work as well as the way such figures as Maud are portrayed I cannot help but to sense that Byatt is portraying feminism in a rather satirical way, perhaps it is even a sort of laughing at herself. I think that some of the things she implies are really too blatant and cliched to be intended to be taken at face value, but rather I feel more of a jesting mockery behind it.

Also, the names of some of the male characters, and the implications there, are laughable. Blackadder, Crabb, and of course Wolf.


message 19: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (last edited Sep 02, 2009 09:27AM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Silver wrote: "I find the poetry of Cristabell to be quite interesting, she does pose a rather intriguing figure. I cannot help but to wonder at the importance that fairy tales seem to play within her work.

T..."


Silver, I think you are correct! While there are literary comparisons to the stylistic form and function of the poetry and prose in Possession, there is also an enormous amount of parody and satire. The names of the characters are almost weirdly Dickensian and seem to perfectly describe each character's personality traits. For example, Wolfe is a womanizer; Crabb is grumpy; Blackadder can be formidably dangerous to his enemies; Beatrice Nest is safely ensconced in her little world of her basement office and with Ash's wife's diaries/letters; and so on.

I think you are also on the right track with Byatt's portrayal of feminism in the novel. I am betting that we'll be talking more about that angle as we move through the novel.

The plotting of the Victorian half of the novel, about Christabel and Randolph, seems like it could have been written by one of the Bronte sisters, doesn't it? The modern half of novel almost feels like an 'academic chase thriller' so popular these days.

It is my observation that Byatt actually addresses the full range of English literature and literary styles in this one novel; a truly remarkable achievement. It is like an onion, layers upon layers of complicated, complex, and carefully nuanced meanings throughout. One peels away one layer of meaning, only to expose the next, and on and on.

Excellent observations, Silver! Cheers! Chris


message 20: by Silver (new)

Silver Christ wrote: It is my observation that Byatt actually addresses the full range of English literature and literary styles in this one novel; a truly remarkable achievement. It is like an onion, layers upon layers of complicated, complex, and carefully nuanced meanings throughout. One peels away one layer of meaning, only to expose the next, and on and on.

Oh yes, I very much agree with that. The work is highly complex, and as discussion continue I think we will uncover many different layres of it. It is truly a fascinating story so far.

I was quite taken by how many different allusions she draws from scattered throughougt her work. As someone else mentioned about ending up reading Victorian poetry, this is the kind of book which can cause one to start to look outside of it into other literary sorces.

As I imagine there is a lot of symbolism implied within the many different references. I had wondered if there was intended to be some connection between "The Fairy Melusian" and Edmund Spenser's "The Faerie Queene" though I am not that familiar with "The Faerie Queene" it was just a thought which occured to me, which I meant to further investigate the possiblity of.



Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Silver wrote: "Christ wrote: It is my observation that Byatt actually addresses the full range of English literature and literary styles in this one novel; a truly remarkable achievement. It is like an onion, lay..."

Silver, here's a link to the Breton myth of the "Fairy Melusine": http://www.celtnet.org.uk/legends/fai...


message 22: by Silver (new)

Silver Oh thanks for the link


message 23: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 200 comments Scott wrote: "I am having to keep telling my mind that the poetry of Randolph Henry Ash is the work of Byatt. Out of habit I keep wanting to think he is a real poet.

I found this audio recording of A.S. Byatt..."


Great link, Scott. Thanks!


message 24: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 200 comments Christopher wrote: "Scott wrote: "Christopher wrote: "Anna wrote: "Rebecca wrote: "Someone is going to have to calm me down because when I saw the poetry I started to freak out. But I think it was either Scott or Ever..."

There are two seventeenth-century poets who are important to the book, too: the metaphysical poets John Donne and George Herbert. Both are well worth some study.


message 25: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 200 comments Christopher wrote: "For those who are interested, Random House, the publishers of Possession has developed a wonderful 'reader's group guide' which may help you as you read the novel. I have a dog-eared, scribbled-up..."

Very good! I transferred the guide to my Kindle so I can read it in comfort.


message 26: by Grace Tjan (new)

Grace Tjan The shipping of my copy from Amazon has been delayed, so I won't be able to join you guys until it arrives in late September. Looks interesting and I'm looking forward to reading it.


message 27: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (last edited Sep 01, 2009 09:22PM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Sandybanks wrote: "The shipping of my copy from Amazon has been delayed, so I won't be able to join you guys until it arrives in late September. Looks interesting and I'm looking forward to reading it."

No worries, Sandybanks; pitch in when you can, we'll all be here. Meanwhile maybe you can spend some time with the poetry of Tennyson, the Brownings, Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, George Herbert, Coleridge's Christabel, and John Keats's Lamia. Cheers! Chris


message 28: by Grace Tjan (new)

Grace Tjan Christopher wrote: "Sandybanks wrote: "The shipping of my copy from Amazon has been delayed, so I won't be able to join you guys until it arrives in late September. Looks interesting and I'm looking forward to reading..."

To tell you the truth, I have read very little Victorian poetry (except for a bit of Rosetti and Dickinson), and I'm a bit intimidated by all the poetic references in the book. Do I need to have an extensive knowledge of Victorian poetry to understand the story? (I hope not :-) ).




message 29: by Silver (new)

Silver I haven't advanced that far into the book yet, but I think you will still be able to follow the story, a greater knowledge of famialirty with Victorian poetry might help on picking up deeper symbolisim within the story, and understanding the allusions, but I think without that you can still follow and enjoy it.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Sandybanks wrote: "Christopher wrote: "Sandybanks wrote: "The shipping of my copy from Amazon has been delayed, so I won't be able to join you guys until it arrives in late September. Looks interesting and I'm lookin..."

Good Heaven's no! The novel itself will give you a pretty rich exposure to the poetry of the Victorian Era, and does a great job at putting it into context for you. The suggestions above are only meant as suggestions should you care to enhance the experience. You'll be fine just as is, Sandy! Cheers! Chris


message 31: by Grace Tjan (new)

Grace Tjan Christopher wrote: "Sandybanks wrote: "Christopher wrote: "Sandybanks wrote: "The shipping of my copy from Amazon has been delayed, so I won't be able to join you guys until it arrives in late September. Looks interes..."

OK, sounds good!



message 32: by The Book Whisperer (aka Boof) (last edited Sep 02, 2009 01:22AM) (new)

The Book Whisperer (aka Boof) | 828 comments I like the way that this book is provoking some debate already. I have a question to throw into the mix (and this is only something that occured to me but I haven't read the entire book yet so I don't have my own opinion yet, but I am curious as to what response it will provoke):

Is Byatt an extremely brave or talented or arrogant author to write Victorian poems that were (fictionally) considered up there among Rossetti, Dickenson et al?

Discuss....


message 33: by Scott (new)

Scott Ferry | 132 comments I almost feel she was experimenting, so in that sense brave, in seeing whether she could transpose the essence of Victorian writing styles into a modern day fiction book. She mentioned, if I remember from the radio show, something about reading Tennyson over and over until she was full of Tennyson. Then she would write the poem or section she wanted to write, almost calling upon the 'muse' of Tennyson or Tennyson's style. In that sense I think she is genius in doing so, but I am trying to figure who else did something similar. I cannot believe that is a new thing.


message 34: by Silver (new)

Silver I would not call her arrogent for it, If anything I would say it is something of a fun experiment, and perhaps a bold one. It is certaintly a very interesting concept to have in fact created a fictional victorian poet, and then try to write in the voice of the victorians herself, and compare it to that true real masters.




Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Boof wrote: "I like the way that this book is provoking some debate already. I have a question to throw into the mix (and this is only something that occured to me but I haven't read the entire book yet so I do..."

Boof, I think there's a lot going on in your question and in any answer. Personally, I think that Byatt is paying some amount of homage to the Victorian Era poets (and authors). I think she is reminding us, via the fictional poetry in the novel, and the Ash-LaMotte plot, that the poetry of this age was worth reading and careful analysis. I also think that the plot, in some respects is a homage to the fiction writing of authors like the Brontes or Dickens. I think she is also trying to reacquaint us with the strong linkage that the Victorian society had with Byronism, the Gothic, and great Age of the Romantic poets; and how these linkages inspired the creative works of the great Victorian poets.

Byatt's poetry, in my opinion, is astoundingly good; and I have to agree with Scott, that in being able to harness the Muse of Tennyson, Browning, Rossetti, Swinburne, or Dickinson, and creating the pastiche The Fairy Melusine (LaMotte's epic poem), or the Ash pastiche The Garden of Proserpina is nothing short of sheer genius, and illustrates why she is rightly considered one of the great writers of our time.

At the same time though, I believe that Byatt has constructed something of a satire or parody of modern-day academic research and competition in the present-day plot of the novel.

Finally, have close look at the exerpt of Robert Browning's poem, Mr Sludge, 'the Medium' that follows the Nathaniel Hawthorne quotation at the front of the novel. Read the last seven lines of the poem, and see what you think --

"There's plenty of 'How did you contrive to grasp
The thread which led you through this labyrinth?
How build such solid fabric out of air?
How on so slight foundation found this tale,
Biography, narrative?' or, in other words,
'How many lies did it require to make
The portly truth you here present us with?'"

--Robert Browning


message 36: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Sorry to divert. Will the poetry make more sense as I go along? What I have noticed is that the story is connecting as I go but not the poetry yet for me, but I am hopeful.


message 37: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (last edited Sep 02, 2009 02:56PM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Elizabeth wrote: "I just started re-reading the book on Monday. I've read it a few times and I will say that I skipped a lot of the poetry the first time with no adverse affects. It is okay to skip it.

However, the..."


Elizabeth, great comments!

I think you're absolutely right on about Byatt taking on post-modernism, and she does it with equal measure parody and satire. Also, I think you have made a valid observation that some the plotting characteristics (i.e., the 'romance' between Ash and LaMotte, etc.) that remind me of Eliz. Barrett Browning; but I think the poetry pastiche assembled by Byatt leans more toward Dickinson. I think I recently read somewhere (and I'll try and find the reference), that Byatt had initially leaned toward a blend of C.G. Rossetti and E.B. Browning as the principal model for Christabel LaMotte, but that CGR ended up being too 'preachy' and theologically-based, and that EBB was maybe just not 'deep' enough (I think there was more to it than that, but I can't recall it all now). I want to spend some time over the next few days and really look at Emily Dickinson's work, as well as EBB's poetry, and see where I fall on this too.

Anyway, great points, Elizabeth! This is turning into a really interesting thread that we have going here! Cheers! Chris


message 38: by Silver (new)

Silver I considered the idea of EBB but I would have to agree that she more strongly comes off like Rossetti, Lamotte's poems do not seem to really have the feel or mode of EBB. Though when it mentioned in the book that Lamotte wrote a collection of religious poems, that did make me think of EBB.

I would agree that there is strong satire and parody within the book regarding Post-Modernism. The characters of the critics within the story are really quite hilarious and in fact they do come off almost like caricature than anything.

More than once I felt like characters such as Maud and Wolf came off sounding more like a caricature of what they represented, then an actual flesh and blood character who could be taken seriously.


message 39: by Silver (new)

Silver There was a scene in the Diary of Blanche Glover that made me think of the Goblin Market, becasue it talked alot about eating, and mentioned something about burned or scorched lips.


message 40: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (last edited Sep 02, 2009 04:19PM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Silver wrote: "I considered the idea of EBB but I would have to agree that she more strongly comes off like Rossetti, Lamotte's poems do not seem to really have the feel or mode of EBB. Though when it mentioned i..."

Good points, Silver! Christina Rossetti's complete oeuvre contains a whole raft of deeply religious poetry as well (probably about 50% of her entire poetic output, and she was prodigious).

There's a quote you might be interested in from a 1991 New York Times article by Mervyn Rothstein; where he asked Byatt the source of her 'Christabel LaMotte,' and Byatt replied that she began with the notion of basing LaMotte on Christina Rossetti--

"But she was too Christian, too self-destructive...I wanted someone tougher. So I ended up with what I think is the greatest woman poet ever, Emily Dickinson. Her sounds, her words, the rhythm of her language."

Fascinating, huh? This is some cool stuff we are getting into here! Cheers! Chris




message 41: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (last edited Sep 02, 2009 04:25PM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Silver wrote: "There was a scene in the Diary of Blanche Glover that made me think of the Goblin Market, becasue it talked alot about eating, and mentioned something about burned or scorched lips. "

...and Goblin Market puts an interesting twist on, and makes one think about the actual relationship between Christabel LaMotte and Blanche Glover; just as Coleridge's poem, Christabel does as well. Byatt pretty much throws the literary 'kitchen sink' at her readers. Allusions, illusions, and metaphors abound!


message 42: by Silver (last edited Sep 02, 2009 04:40PM) (new)

Silver Yes I still have to read Chreistable, I haven't read that one yet. Partiuarly considering the Dikinson influence in Lamotte and the way Blanche reacts to the "intruder" who at this point may or may not be Ash, it does suggest some interesting things about the possible relationship between the two women. There is indeed so much depth within this work.

On anside one of the other things which I really enjoyed about the book so far, was not only all the Romantic and Victorian references but the references to the Pre-Raphaelites as well with whom I have a fascination.

The painting of Nimue and Merlin which is mentioned in Blanche's diary, is acutally the cover image for my edition of the book.

Here are a couple of links to paintings which have been referenced.

Nimue And Merlin
http://blessingscornucopia.com/deitie...

The Lily Maid of Astolat
http://www.1st-art-gallery.com/thumbn...

This also tells the myth of Astolat
http://csis.pace.edu/grendel/projs993...






message 43: by toria (vikz writes) (last edited Sep 04, 2009 05:33AM) (new)

toria (vikz writes) (victoriavikzwrites) What an interesting discussion you've been having. I must admit I've been lurking and listening in- unsure what to say about this book. You're all right that the poetry is well written, but may be off putting for those who don't like poetry. I was interested to hear your discussion concerning Byatt A.S. influences.

I know this is a Victorian reading group, but what interesting me about this are the passages that deal with the modern world. She gets academia perfectly. It's the world I've known and gladly left. Being someone with a women's studies background, I like that way in which Byatt A.S.brings up the issue of how, and if, we discuss a writers sexuality. How much does that bring to our discussion of their work? Anyway, I've got to chapter 13 and will keep reading. It's an interesting book that seems to have inspired an interesting debate.


message 44: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca I thought it was intresting the way each painter Manet vs Watts, paints Ash.


message 45: by Silver (new)

Silver I am curious what others might make of LaMotte's story 'The Glass Coffin' it seems to contain elements of a variety of different fairy tales within, but their are a couple things in particular about it that have my interest.

I was first curious of the reason behind having a tailor opposed to a proper prince come to the rescue of the princess and then the sort of role reversal at the end, with the tailor staying home to sew clothing while the sister and her brother go off together hunting.

And of course the relationship between the bother and the sister rises some eyebrows, as it seems to suggest something of a chaste incestuouness between the two of them.

I had wondered if the in fact the sister and the bother, and their relationship was meant to reflect in someway on the relationship between Lamotte and Blanche, and if possible the tailor is Ash, or the "intruder" the male figure who enters to their lives, and yet without interfering with their own relationship to each other.


message 46: by Silver (new)

Silver I beleive that the fairy tales of Lamotte are drawn from the Grimm fairy tales, I think Grimm might have even been mentioned once, and from the stories I have read of grim, the tailor like figure does not typically play the role of the hero.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Silver wrote: "I beleive that the fairy tales of Lamotte are drawn from the Grimm fairy tales, I think Grimm might have even been mentioned once, and from the stories I have read of grim, the tailor like figure d..."

You are correct that the Grimm brothers' fairy tales are referred to in Possession. I can think of at least one reference - to the "Hans My Hedgehog" story. I believe that the first English translation of Grimm's Fairy Tales was in 1823; and I'm equally certain that these folk tales proved to be fertile ground for Victorian writers and poets. By the bye, I have a superb volume of Grimm's tales entitled, Grimm's Grimmest. These are the originals and not the 'tame' versions that were typically included in children's books over the past 150 years. Some of 'em are pretty darned horrific! Cheers! Chris


message 48: by Silver (new)

Silver I love Grimmn I have that collection but I haven't yet read it. I have like three different collections of thier stories.


message 49: by SarahC (last edited Sep 05, 2009 05:24PM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Boof wrote: "I like the way that this book is provoking some debate already. I have a question to throw into the mix (and this is only something that occured to me but I haven't read the entire book yet so I do..."

Boof, you posed the question of arrogance on Byatt's part to create these poems and I guess, really, the expansive 19th century world that she did in Possession. I am familiar with her other fiction, her literary criticism and a lot of references to the fact that she is a serious scholar of the European fairy tale. I guess my years of being a reader of hers makes me think, who better to create a work like this?

I swear Byatt is addictive! And she has a new novel coming out soon that is said approaches Possession in its weight. And I am convinced that her family must have the brilliance gene, because her sister Margaret Drabble is also a magical storyteller.




message 50: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 200 comments Silver wrote: "I beleive that the fairy tales of Lamotte are drawn from the Grimm fairy tales, I think Grimm might have even been mentioned once, and from the stories I have read of grim, the tailor like figure d..."

Here's "The Valiant Little Tailor":

http://sacred-texts.com/neu/grimm/ht1...


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