“One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.” (Kurt Vonnegut)
I was at a terrible loss when thinking about how to begin this prospectus, but I find that Vonnegut always does the trick. So it goes.
Incidentally, though, this quote is an acceptable jumping-off point for my essay, if only that it causes us to consider the benefits of modern times, and thus, digital times. As such, I will be using Possession to address the second question, and I intend to argue – perhaps to my detriment – that Byatt’s novel both encourages and resists the digital forms and methods of future reading. Furthermore, I will be examining the digital possibilities from two separate angles, these being an argument for a digital analysis of Possession, as well as utilization of digital forms to enhance the novel itself. While both of these analyses encourage digital methods, I will also argue for why Possession does not call for complete digitization, and should thus stay rooted in the traditional form of a book.
I intend to support these arguments by exploring human connection within the novel. In particular, I will begin by demonstrating how the overarching theme of human relationships, including character mirroring, begs the traditional form of the book. I will explore the interrelationships between Maud and Christabel, Roland and Ash, and will highlight not only the importance of a relationship with the author, but with the author’s physical works as well.
Throughout this argument, however, I will simultaneously push for digital methods and forms. Both arguments will be presented at the same time, or nearly so, through the format of my essay (which will have both physical paper and blog components). Thus, while I argue for Possession to remain in the tangible world, I will also be arguing for the novel to partially exist in digital form. This portion of my essay will serve to show how the discoveries within the novel could be expanded further into discoveries of the novel. In the same way that Maud reflects Christabel, the reader could thus reflect Maud. Such could result from digital changes within the novel and a digital study of the novel.
This sounds like a very broad analysis, and it is. However, I firmly believe that these varied angles are integral to my argument as a whole; furthermore, the previously mentioned format will serve to enhance and demonstrate my arguments. The interactive and somewhat indirect structure of this essay will reflect the final result of my imagined version of Possession. In the same way that the reader of the novel would discover new elements and concepts of Possession, the reader of my essay should discover a new way of reading, too.
Byatt, A.S. Possession. London: Vintage Books, 1991. Print.
- Primary source
Carrière, Jean-Claude and Umberto Eco. This is not the end of the book;. London: Vintage Books, 2012. Print.
- Primary source
Kasman Valenza, Joyce and Wendy Stephens. “Reading Remixed.” Educational Leadership 69.6 (2012): 75-78. Web. 21 March 2013
- This paper argues that digital forms entice new readers; I will be using this article to support my argument of digital forms of reading, specifically with regards to the appeal of reading, and to expound upon the reader-book relationship.
Shinn, Thelma J. “‘What’s in a word?’ Possessing A.S. Byatt’s meronymic novel.” Papers on Language & Literature 31.2 (1995): 164-184. Web. 20 March 2013.
- This paper explores balance within Possession (e.g. poetry and prose), and will thus be used to enhance my argument for a balance between the tangible and intangible. I will also use this essay to explore the balance of relationships, and how this contributes to the overall theme of interconnectivity.
Su, John J. “Fantasies of (Re)collection: Collecting and Imagination in A.S. Byatt’s Possession: A Romance.” Contemporary Literature 45.4 (2004): 684-712. Web. 20 March 2013.
- I will use this article to further my argument of the importance of Possession as a physical book. This article explores the collection of memorabilia, and I will use Su’s study to enhance my argument that physical elements are essential to the reader’s creative discovery.