Publisher: Vintage Books
Hailed by The New York Times Book Review as "a gifted observer, able to discern the exact details that bring whole worlds into being" and "a storyteller who could keep a sultan on the edge of his throne for a thousand and one nights," A. S. Byatt writes some of the most engaging and skillful novels of our time. Time magazine calls her "a novelist of dazzling inventiveness."
Possession, for which Byatt won England's prestigious Booker Prize, was praised by critics on both sides of the Atlantic when it was first published in 1990. "On academic rivalry and obsession, Byatt is delicious. On the nature of possession--the lover by the beloved, the biographer by his subject--she is profound," said The Sunday Times (London). The New Yorker dubbed it "more fun to read than The Name of the Rose . . . Its prankish verve [and] monstrous richness of detail [make for] a one-woman variety show of literary styles and types." The novel traces a pair of young academics--Roland Michell and Maud Bailey--as they uncover a clandestine love affair between two long-dead Victorian poets. Interwoven in a mesmerizing pastiche are love letters and fairytales, extracts from biographies and scholarly accounts, creating a sensuous and utterly delightful novel of ideas and passions.


Chapter OneThese things are there. The garden and the treeThe serpent at its root, the fruit of goldThe woman in the shadow of the boughsThe running water and the grassy space.They are and were there. At the old world's rim,In the Hesperidean grove, the fruitGlowed golden on eternal boughs, and thereThe dragon Ladon...
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1. What is the significance of the novel's title? Do you think it has more than one meaning? What does the concept of "possession" mean to the novel's various characters, both modern and Victorian? How can possession be seen as the theme of the book?

2. Ash is nicknamed "the Great Ventriloquist...

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"Byatt is the most formidably equipped of contemporary novelists. . . . The great merit of [her] writing . . . is that it continually engages the reader's mind."---The Daily Telegraph

"This cerebral extravaganza of a story zigzags with unembarrassed zest across an imaginative terrain bristling with symbolism and symmetries, shimmering with myth and legend, and haunted everywhere by presences of the past. . . . Possession is eloquent about the intense pleasures of reading. And, with sumptuous artistry, it provides a feast of them."---The Sunday Times (London)