A. S. Byatt - Possession: A Romance - Creative Writing & Science
0 comment Monday, April 7, 2014 |
In my undergraduate dissertation, I was able to delve through the Helen Chadwick archive at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds.
In the archive, I found a copy of "Possession: A Romance" by A S Byatt in which Chadwick had circled excerpts which then went on to inform Chadwick's art practice (Nebula, Unnatural Selection).

"Possession: A Romance" is a novel which documents the journey of two academics who are studying a series of letters between two fictional poets.
The author, A S Byatt, cleverly manages to integrate some inspiring science-based poetry in her work, as Byatt was inspired by elder writers who merged elements of fantasy and naturalism in to their writing styles. Her work maintain a continuous interest in zoology, entomology and Darwinism amongst other repeated themes.
I find Byatt's work fascinating as science is not the focal point of her novels, rather a bi-product.
Anyway, here are a few of my favourite excerpts:
"Here is a Riddle, Sir, an old Riddle, an easy Riddle - hardly worth your thinking about - a fragile Riddle, in white and Gold with life in the middle of it.
There is a gold, soft cushion whose gloss you may only paradoxicallyimagine with your eyes closed tight - see it feelingly, let it slip through your minds fingers.And this gold cushion is enclosed in its own crystalline casket, a caskettranslucent and endless in its circularity, for there are no sharp cornersto it, no protrusions, only a milky moonstone clarity that decieves.And these are wrapped in silk, fine as thistledown, tough as steel, andthe silk likes inside.Alabaster, which you may think of as funerary.Urn - only with no inscription, for there are as yet no Ashes - and nopediment, and no nodding poppies engraved, nor yet no lid you may lift topeep in for all is sealed and smooth.There may come a day when you may lift the lid with impunity - or rather,when it may be lifted from within - for that way, life may comes, whereasyour way - you will discover - only congealing and mortality.An egg, sir, is the answer, as you perspiculously read from the beginning,a perfect O, a living stone, doorless and windowless, whose life mayslumber on till she be wake"

"I am a small man, closed in a small space.
Expert in smallness, in the smallest things.
The inconsiderable and overlooked,
The curious and the ephemeral."
"The clue to life lay in the blind white worm,
That eats away the complex flesh of men,
Is eaten by the farmyard bird who makes,
A succulent dinner for another man,
And so completes the circle. Life is one"
"Great Galileo with his optic tube,
A century ago, displaced this Earth
From apprehensions centre, and made out
The planets' swimming circles and the Sun
And beyond, that the infinite motions of space.
Sphere upon sphere, in which our spinning world.
Green grass, and yellow desert, mountains white and whelming depths of the bluest sea,
Is but a speck in a kind of star-broth, rightly seen."
If you too were inspired by these excerpts, I'd strongly urge you to read "Possession : A Romance" and "Angels & Insects". Alternatively, both of these novels were made in to feature length films, so you will also be able to find them on DVD.

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