Posted by Cassia on October 27, 1997 at 18:33:52:
In response to Classic narrative, written by Jane Elizabeth on October 27, 1997 at 15:37:37
] Yesterday, my book popped open at the moment we "meet" Randolph and Christabel in the railway car, and I realized that it was at the exact halfway point in the novel. (It's not for nothing that Byatt is a student of Austen...) One of the reasons why some people have trouble getting into P. is that the first half picks up steam slowly. It feels to me as if we are on one of those long uphill climbs on a roller coaster, gathering speed for the plummet downhill.
] All this is by way of saying Byatt is keenly aware of the power of the narrative. Her achievement is remarkable because she has taken an intriguing, well-plotted mystery and hung onto it multiple layers of meaning and richness. As Kate says, you can indeed dive in randomly, once you've read through once, but it is the classic storytelling that drives it along on first reading.
That you can. When I had a class in adapting lit to screen a couple of years ago, I began with the train being the first immage of my Possession adaptation. A first class carriage and we see everyone slowly leave the train until we have Christabel and Randolph alone. The image is repeated several times in short bursts to bring the second couple on stage as soon as possible without saying who they are until Maud and Roland know this info. I felt I could do this because the underlying structure was so sturdy.
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