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The Houses of History: A Critical Reader in Twentieth-Century History and Theory
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
Bill Watterson
Possession - A.S. Byatt It struck me that I do like riddles. Intelligent ones, and meaningful, too. Just like with [b:The Blind Assassin|78433|The Blind Assassin|Margaret Atwood|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327876197s/78433.jpg|3246409], I was enchanted by Possession's world. I held my breath, waiting to see things being unfolded, though painfully slowly.

On the other hand, I could not understand how the book could be an international bestseller. The writing, though I find superb, could be really hard to get into. Byatt imitates the Victorian flowery prose really too well, and at times I just shook my head in defeat. I did have to consult a dictionary while reading Ash and Lamotte's correspondence, oh my... To add to that, I even, *whisper*, cheated a few times when it came to poetry. I just could not digest it well and fast enough, it took me forever, and yet I wanted to know everything as soon as I could. Still I made a copy of some poems, promising myself I would come back to them in deep reflection later (hah, such wishful thinking).

That did not mean I devoured the book in a hurried state. It was simply impossible. Besides many of its themes, romance, feminism, sexuality, etc., you name them; Possession is to a great extent about literary and historical research into the lives of fictional figures, and it depicts the process of that research, I think, quite truthfully. Things could go very slow indeed. You do have to peruse over tons of documents to catch a single line of hint, you do have to bear with dull details in order to have just a glimpse of the interesting. There are inevitably gaps that the future could just never grasp entirely. And then there is this academic rivalry, the competition to be the first in discovery. Or there is simply this pure obssession with the subject of research, and thus the wish to know all, to possess all, or even to keep just to oneself. It takes true patience, and perhaps true "research" enthusiasm to stay focused with the book. But it pays off, I believe.

And yet I feel somewhat sad. What if they, those figures in the past, they truly did not wish their secrets to be known, not to mention so publicly? Still here we are, stirring the past, digging up their personal lives with such alacrity. The story could be painful, and I at times did wish, leave them alone, Leave the matter be at rest.