I started reading Possession by A.S. Byatt this week. I'm really enjoying it; she has a delicious prose style, not the kind my brother might call "cheesecake" but rather a lighter less rich style, beautiful enough when examined in form, but not so much so that one is overwhelmed:
In early days she had had lots of quiet opinions, he remembered, which she had offered him, shyly slyly, couched as a kind of invitation or bait...
As a student of a literature program, I also find the interactions between the characters and the artwork they encounter to be very telling; characters respond and this is what makes art. The center of the first couple of chapters, one Randolph H. Ash, a victorian poet, is a character constructed, it seems, primarily from art -- the main character reads poems and purchases paintings, yet is surprised and even suspicious upon encountering something that might at present seem even more connected to the man himself.
I will not begin to tirade about the idea of the poet's great soul and the knowledge procured from a world above and beyond our own; my girfriend awaits my call, so I will keep it to this: It seems immersion in art and history gives people life in this book (at least in the first 30 pages) and it comes to a point with some that the rejection from the school of artistic study (in the cultural and historical sense) can very well be the destruction of what is whole in a person; the twist is, that very immersion in the past leads people to forget themselves, redefines their lives and worlds, perhaps even causes the loss of identity:
"Oh, it's all very interesting, my menial keyhole observations, make no mistake. Just it doesn't make sense and it leaves me nowhere. I suppose I envy you, piecing together old Ash's world-picture. Only where does that leave you Old mole? What's your world picture?
Interesting. But for all of you who perceive life from Val's point of view, don't worry. I'll write something mundane soon.