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About the Book


The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are designed to enhance your group's reading of A. S. Byatt's Possession, a richly layered story of passion, mystery, and scholarship. 

Roland Michell and Maud Bailey, two rather unfulfilled young literary scholars, unexpectedly become figures of romance as they discover a surprising link between the two poets on whom they are authorities. Byatt deftly plays with literary genres--Romantic quest, campus satire, detective story, myth, fairy tale--as Maud and Roland become deeply involved in the unfolding story of a secret relationship between the Victorian poets Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte. 

The young people's quest inevitably attracts the jealous attention of the competitive academic world, and all too soon the quest becomes a chase. Byatt's staggering technical ambition and her powerful romantic vision are tributes to the great Victorian age, which the novel brings to life. "For the Victorians, everything was part of one thing: science, religion, philosophy, economics, politics, women, fiction, poetry," Byatt says. "They didn't compartmentalize--they thought BIG" (The New York Times Magazine, May 26, 1991). A knowledge of the poetry referred to in the text is not essential to a full enjoyment of the novel, but it will certainly enhance it; a few important poems are listed after the questions below.

by A.S. Byatt

  • Publication Date: October 1, 1991
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN-10: 0679735909
  • ISBN-13: 9780679735908