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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Possession (1990) by A.S. Byatt


Book Review
Possession (1990)
 by A.S. Byatt

  Possession is another excellent example of a book that made "historical metafiction" one of the hottest genres in literary fiction, a trend that continues today.  Historical metafiction can be viewed through a variety of lenses, but  I think the easiest perspective takes into account that practitioners of historical metafiction tend to be well versed in literary theory as well as literature itself, that, like all genres that combine sales with critical acclaim, it strikes a resonant chord with prospective readers.  A.S. Byatt meets all those criterion, and the forward to the Modern Library edition also makes it clear that she was directly inspired by the success of Umberto Eco in The Name of the Rose.


  Clearly for me though, the element which elevates Possession beyond turgid high concept post modern historical fiction is the author's ability to describe action, albeit the kind of action that collectors and professor of literature get up to in 1990's England when a career making discovery is at hand. 

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