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Byatt writes: ''Roland had learned to see himself, theoretically, as a crossing-place for a number of systems, all loosely connected. He had been trained to see his idea of his 'self' as an illusion, to be replaced by a discontinuous machinery and electrical message-network of various desires, ideological beliefs and responses, language-forms and hormones and pheromones.

The consequences of this highly improbable self-view are devastating, as it turns out. Mitchell has been living in a damp basement flat in London with a feckless woman by the name of Val, and what they call their ''relationship'' is distinctly uninspired. They eat and sleep together in a low-keyed, almost mournful way that neither especially likes.

The pace of everything in Mitchell's life picks up, however, when he almost inadvertently begins a mad, intensely private search for the truth concerning the mysterious letters, which he has secretly tucked into his wallet. An ingenious literary detective, he soon discovers that the letters were sent to another poet, Christabel LaMotte - whose life is based on Christina Rossetti. If a connection exists between Ash and LaMotte, Mitchell will have stumbled onto a major discovery that could rescue his academic career as well as make a big dent in the field of Victorian poetry studies.

Maud Bailey, the leading LaMotte scholar, lives ''on the outskirts of Lincoln'' and spends her time writing articles about ''liminality'' in the poems of LaMotte, who it so happens is her distant ancestor. In what becomes the most charming part of the story, Mitchell and Bailey steal away to a magnificent country house, not far from Lincoln, where LaMotte lived most of her life in seclusion.

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The house, and its current master, Sir George Bailey, who seems to have walked right out of the pages of P. Wodehouse into a novel by David Lodge, are summoned with consummate wit and parodic skill. As ''Possession'' progresses, it seems less and less like the usual satire about academia and more like something by Jorge Luis Borges.

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The most dazzling aspect of ''Possession'' is Ms. Byatt's canny invention of letters, poems and diaries from the 19th century. She quotes whole vast poems by Ash and LaMotte, several of which struck me, anyway, as highly plausible versions of Browning and Rossetti and are beautiful poems on their own. Power is a visitor to, not a possession of, those it empowers.

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When detectives raided her store and found the silk in her possession , they arrested her. Do you know whether Marina still has them in her possession? As a political result it would have secured to me the possession of the throne. Payment will be made easy; a good deed; and possession given at any time from the first of November to the first of May next. One of them is now in the possession of the Governor, and tolerably well reconciled to his new master.

Possession | Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked | WNYC Studios

Legal property sense is earliest; demonic sense first recorded s. Phrase possession is nine or eleven points of the law is out of a supposed 10 or First Known Use of possession 14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a. Learn More about possession.

Resources for possession Time Traveler! Explore the year a word first appeared. From the Editors at Merriam-Webster. Dictionary Entries near possession possessable possessed possessingly possession possessionalism possessionary possessionate. Phrases Related to possession have in one's possession vacant possession. Time Traveler for possession The first known use of possession was in the 14th century See more words from the same century.

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English Language Learners Definition of possession. Kids Definition of possession. Garrison , S. Comments on possession What made you want to look up possession? Get Word of the Day daily email!

Grounds for possession: Secure tenancies

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