Links on “Possession” by A.S. Byatt


It is not an exaggeration to say Possession by A.S. Byatt changed my life, and for the better, after I read it in the winter of December 94/January 95. I was working unhappily in marketing for a company I no longer believed in, and realized (again, in the way of so many epiphanies, I have to have them multiple times for them to stick) that I needed to find a way to get religion and literature in my life.

Over the years, I’ve been trepidatious to read it again. What if I didn’t care for it, or The Suck Fairy had visited? I’m happy to say that a second reading only affirmed this book as one of favorites, if not perhaps The Favorite. I’ve often described this book as having everything: history, mystery, poetry, religion, science, romance and adventure. It’s like the Indiana Jones of novels, or The DaVinci Code if written well by an academic.

I dragged my feet on researching the book before a discussion I’ll be leading today. Again, that was silly. Here are a few of the best articles I found. And having dipped into them, I am now interested to go haring off in other literary directions, which is what my favorite books do to me.

If you haven’t read it, or haven’t read it lately, it stands up, and is more timely than ever in this age of atheism Hitch/Dawkins et al.

The Wikipedia entry on Possession

Wikipedia on Christina Rossetti, the model for Christabel LaMotte

NYT article on Byatt after Possession won the Booker, “What Possessed A.S. Byatt?”

On Possession” at The Poet’s Forum

A re-evaluation of Byatt by a former skeptic, at the Guardian’s Book Blog.

Another take on it at the Guardian’s Book Club

The Reading Group Guide for Possession

6 Responses to “Links on “Possession” by A.S. Byatt”

  1. Jennifer Reese Says:

    I reread Possession in 2013 with the same trepidation. It didn’t cast quite as powerful a spell the second time, but how could it? Then I read Still Life, which was also wonderful, but stumbled with Whistling Woman and my 2013 A.S. Byatt jag was over.
    Thank you for the links. I will explore.

  2. girldetective Says:

    Jennifer, in one of the links she says she wrote Possession as fun, and the quartet that had Still Life and Whistling Woman in it was more academic. I remember not loving the first one in that _-The Virgin in the Garden. I’m still interested in checking out The Children’s Book.

  3. Jennifer S Says:

    I read Possession at about the same time you did, and was floored. I found it at that perfect time in my life, when everything else I seemed randomly interested in was contained in that one book. Of course, then I read Still Life, and was devastated by the ending, and that was that. But Possession is still one of my permanent favorites.

  4. Amy Says:

    I would so have loved to be there yesterday. Stoopid blizzard. I found I loved it just as much on the re-read as I did when I first read it. This goes on the very short shelf of books I will likely read yet again someday, along with Jane Eyre, Villette, Middlemarch, and Angle of Repose.

  5. carolyn Says:

    I loved Possession just as much as you! And found, on reread, that I did still. Such a great book and SO much more than just the novel writing, you know? Writing the poems, etc.

  6. Ritalee Says:

    Thanks for this goodie bag of links about a terrific book and beloved writer. Did anyone see her when she came to Minneapolis as part of the library’s pen pal series?? The Gods and Monsters emails give me terrible pangs.