Reading Possession by A.S. Byatt

Re-reading – still a difficult read

A bookish observation

I thought I would find “Possession” easier to read this time around. I was wrong!

I read it twenty years ago, since then my reading experience is more extensive, my concentration is good and I have a strong desire to elevate my reading experience to another level. So why did I find this book so difficult to read, again!

Equipped with my new Kindle Touch eBook reader, with its easy access to a Dictionary and Wikipedia I was all set to go.  I’d wanted to re-read this book for years.  I was ready!

So what happened?

It was a jerky ride. I looked up every word I didn’t understand (there was one in nearly every two paragraphs), I referred to Wikipedia for all the mythological references, I used the Internet to translate the foreign quotes. Phew!  Getting in the way of a good story full of mystery and surprises was the need to constantly leave the text.

Along with interpreting obscure English words was the need to interpret the poetry. Eventually after giving it a really good try, I skimmed most (not all) the poetry, it was then that the story started to flow.

Something happens when I read poetry, I read the words but am unable to make sense of it. It’s like suddenly my brain switches off, maybe the experience is similar to dyslexia, I’m not sure but it’s as though the words are in a foreign language.

At first I was determined to read every word and slow down to a crawl where I needed to, but hey, life is too short, and a jerky read isn’t a pleasant experience. If I hadn’t skimmed the poetry, I would have given up on the book.

I can recognise why this book has many fans. If I had the depth of knowledge the book requires, I too would have loved the book, instead I learned a lot while struggling through.

Was it worth the journey?

Yes it certainly was worth the read although now I’m happy to move on to a smoother ride.

My next read is “Camera Obscura” by Rosanne Dingli, I’ve finished the first three chapters and I’m understanding every word. It’s like stepping out into the light after my struggle with “Possession”.