How effectively does Possession by A.S Byatt reflect and/or challenge the dominant ways of thinking of the time in which it was composed?.
The year 1990 saw the publication of A.S Byatt's Possession-A Romance. Composed during a time where the dominant discourse in literature, academia, architecture and ideology was consumed by postmodernism. Byatt conscious of the movement has effectively created a text that incorporates post-modern elements, through the use of bricolage, pastiche and a strong sense of self-reflexivity in a fragmented plot with a hybrid of genres. As well as reflecting postmodernism, Byatt challenges the movement through constructing a 19th Century Victorian love story with a conclusive ending and linear storyline. .
Postmodernism was a movement, perhaps reaching its pinnacle during the 1980's and 90's by challenging "traditionalist" conventions in religion, art, music and most notably literature. All were disregarded or challenged by a "new" dominant way of thinking and interpreting. Byatt has successfully been able to incorporate postmodern ideals through a text that is highly self-reflective in its narrative. .
The self-reflexivity used by Byatt is prominent throughout most of the novel, where the responder is forced to focus on his/her role within the text rather than a preconceived idea formulated by Byatt. Where parts of the text are "missing" or open to interpretation, as a result of textual fragmentation, Byatt consciously and subtly self-reflects to portray her thoughts, through the characters of Maud and Roland. .
" Coherence and closure are deep human desires that are presently unfashionable." P 422. From this quote the responder is allowed an insight into the mind of Byatt, who is perhaps insinuating a "romance" will not occur between the novels contemporary protagonists, as this would not correspond with the principles of postmodernism. "Where these thoughts original?" Where Maud and Roland become conscious of their role within the text, Byatt is subtly revealing her own postmodern convictions, whilst admitting to her inability to produce a piece of original text.