A. S. Byatt's romance, Possession, is a multi-leveled postmodernist commentary on the Victorian romance and the study of Victorian literature in general. The author makes up two Victorian poets, Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte, and creates a hidden romance between the two that two young literature researchers discover. By learning more and more about the romance between Randolph and Christabel, Roland and Maud begin a romance themselves. Because they are both students of postmodernism and deconstruction, they notice the irony of such a romance. In this passage, Roland wonders to himself whether his and Maud's romance is their own or not.
Somewhere in the locked-away letters, Ash had referred to the plot of fate that seemed to hold of drive the dead lovers. Roland thought, partly with precise postmodernist pleasure, and partly with a real element of superstitious dread, that he and Maud were being driven by a plot or fate that seemed, at least possibly, to be not their plot or fate but that of others. He tried to extend this apercu. Might there not, he professionally asked himself, be an element of superstitious dread in any self-reflexive, inturned postmodernist mirror-game or plot-coil that recognizes that it has got out of hand? [p.456]
1. Does Roland every come to a conclusion on the nature of his and Maud's relationship or does the dread of his over-analyzation remain until the end of the book?
2. Does Maud notice this same trend?
3. What does postmodernism do to one's way of viewing reality? History?
4. Is this a comment on postmodernist thought and its relation to real life? What does it mean for the book to comment on postmodernist thought?
Byatt, A.S. Possession: A Romance. New York: Vintage International, 1990.
Last modified: 15 May 2004