Friday, January 13, 2012

A.S. Byatt - Possession

I finished a book that could have been quite spectacular. It deals with classic literature, a mystery and a pair of academics. They're all obsessed with a great English Victorian writer and/or his wife and a less known female poet. How can that go wrong? I'm not saying it went wrong, I just didn't fall in love with the book. I found it while browsing a list of long books worth the effort on Goodreads. First I wanted to read The Historian, but after reading some reviews where people went on about how historically incorrect it was, I decided not to read it. So I settled for Possession.

I like the book, it was interesting and the story is good, but it's full of boring poetry that I was completely unable to read and that went on for pages and pages and pages... The other parts I enjoyed. It's a dual story, so if you don't like the characters in the 20th century, you may at least like the ones in the 19th.

Since I've been listening to music from the movie Drive (absolutely beautiful movie, but not suitable for people who can't stand blood) recently I couldn't help but team up this song with this book:

Desiree's Under Your Spell

Some people can't read with music. I guess that must be the kind of people who actively listen to lyrics. I don't, so I prefer to listen to music when I study and read literature. Sometimes I end up matching songs with books. For some reason, Aqua's Good Morning Sunshine goes along with The Valley of Horses (Auel) that I read and loved when I was 11. Tears Never Dry (Stephen Simmonds) matches up with Mother Earth Father Sky by Sue Harrison. I know there must be many more, but I've forgotten them. These songs end up being like a soundtrack.

Anyway, I actually started watching the movie Possession from 2002, but only saw 30 minutes or so. If a movie bores me I have no problem at all shutting it off. Watching movies is not an accomplishment, reading books is, so generally I finish books even if they bore me. I think I shut off something like a third of the movies I watch though. Therefore I can't really say all that much about this movie, other than that it seemed silly in a way the book wasn't.


  1. I'm one of those who cannot read with music on. Even without lyrics at all. A friend of mine told me that she listens to Russian music, since she has to be attentive to get the lyrics. It doesn't happen with Swedish or English that she understands even when they are somewhere as a background.

  2. You mention that you did not choose a book because it was historically incorrect, but does it matter? And how correct can history actually be? (this coming from a historian)!

  3. Well, apparently the thing was that the author got lots of things wrong, and I'm not interested in reading faulty history ;) One of the first comments on Goodreads is "Before you give another author a two million dollar advance for a book, please make sure that the author has done the most basic research on topics that she brings up over and over again." Check it out here:

    Of course, there is a big question of objectivity and subjectivity in history, but established facts (rather than the why and how) should be kept in order!