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Fozzie
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : Color - The Glass Coffin and Ch. 5


CallMeLeo wrote:

Do others have some thoughts on color and its use so far in the novel?



The fairy tale of The Glass Coffin at the end of Chapter 4 contains lots of color references:

black artist in a black cloak
grey dust
grey man
Otto's grey, hairy neck
colored liquids in bottles

This sentence about color from Chapter 5 highlights the contrast between city and country:

"Roland, who was urban, noted colours: dark ploughed earth, with white chalk in the furrows; a pewter sky, with chalk-white clouds."
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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CallMeLeo
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : Significance of the colour green


Choisya wrote:
And Maud "her green and white length, a long pine tunic over a pine-green skirt, a white silk shirt... white stockings inside long shining green shoes."

'Lincoln Green' is a colour and cloth associated with Robin Hood and his Merry men, who, in fact, lived in Nottinghamshire and met around the famous Sherwood Oak. The description of Maud's clothing above also reminded me of the traditional Maid Marion costume.




Of course the 'green' of Robin Hood and his Merry Men! And I think of camouflage, blending into the woodland green, especially since Roland is a "thief" and he and Maud join forces to pursue covertly the possible link between Ash and Christabel.

Choisya, in Chapter 4, Byatt describles Maud's voice as "a kind of flattened Sloane" which Roland didn't like. Do you know what Byatt meant by this?
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Choisya
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : Robin Goodfellow & Sloane Rangers

[ Edited ]
And in a way Roland and Maude become 'outlaws' of their University departments? There are also echoes of Browning's puzzling Childe Roland here, which in turn is a reference to the French Breton epic Song of Roland (and Shakespeare's King Lear).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childe_Roland_to_the_Dark_Tower_Came

Presumably the 'Dark Tower' is Seal Court.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Song_of_Roland

Incidentally, Bretons are Celts as are the Cornish, Welsh, Scottish and Irish, and they share much of the same folklore and language, especially about 'the little people'. The wild, rocky outcrops of the Brittany coast at Finistere (End of the Earth) are very similar to those across the English Channel in Land's End in Cornwall and the same fairytales of seals are told there.

http://www.celticsurf.net/allceltic/connections/features/

BTW Folks might be better jettisoning their Hollywood ideas about Robin Hood and to think instead of his origins in Robin Goodfellow (Puck) as I find these are the references Byatt is making, particularly with regard to hobgoblins etc.

http://www.boldoutlaw.com/puckrobin/puckages.html

Sloanes: Think of Princess Diana's voice and you will know what a 'Sloane Ranger' sounds like. Audio clip here (Sloane is URP):-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/routesofenglish/storysofar/posh.shtml

Sloane Square is in Chelsea, an expensive part of London where wealthy young things live and occasionally work. I think Maude's 'flattened' Sloane would have been due to the flattened vowels of the Midlands/North, where she lived - 'bath' with a flattened 'a' instead of 'barth', 'bucket' with a flattened 'u', instead of 'becket'. Not 'quait' the 'plum in the mouth' of the Royal family but similar don'ch'know:smileyhappy: This Guardian article about accents in films mentions that Rene Zellweger was taught 'Sloane' for the Bridget Jones film:-

http://arts.guardian.co.uk/features/story/0,11710,1451641,00.html




CallMeLeo wrote:

Choisya wrote:
And Maud "her green and white length, a long pine tunic over a pine-green skirt, a white silk shirt... white stockings inside long shining green shoes."

'Lincoln Green' is a colour and cloth associated with Robin Hood and his Merry men, who, in fact, lived in Nottinghamshire and met around the famous Sherwood Oak. The description of Maud's clothing above also reminded me of the traditional Maid Marion costume.




Of course the 'green' of Robin Hood and his Merry Men! And I think of camouflage, blending into the woodland green, especially since Roland is a "thief" and he and Maud join forces to pursue covertly the possible link between Ash and Christabel.

Choisya, in Chapter 4, Byatt describles Maud's voice as "a kind of flattened Sloane" which Roland didn't like. Do you know what Byatt meant by this?

Message Edited by Choisya on 05-30-200704:21 AM

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chadadanielleKR
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : Masculine vs. Feminine



CallMeLeo wrote:

Choisya wrote:
"...plum and plushy and dusty, a second hand stained-oak office desk, where Roland worked, and a newer varnished beech desk, where the typewriter sat. These were back to back on the long side-walls each with their Habitat anglepoise, Roland's black, Val's rose pink."





Thanks for the lamp links, Choisya. Now I know what a Habitat anglepoise looks like!

What jumped out at me from this quote after reading some of the reading discussion questions posted elsewhere is the contrast of masculine and feminine in the choice of colors in their individual lamps - Roland's black and Val's rose pink. In such a close environment they are anxious to distinguish their space in little ways.


Hi choisya,
Thanks for the lamps also, moreover that I am reading the novel in French and the translator thought that those were shelves with an angle shape (I'll write him a note!).
As far as I remember, in those days we had an electric typewriter at home and a word processor in the office called WANG (in the US, Washington D.C.). In 1988, the office (in France) gave us an old wordprocessor and this was the end of the typewriter, the computer came early in the 1990's.
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piihonua
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : Significance of the colour green

The Serpent, the peacock and the wardrobe...
I love the way the theme of colors has sparked an interest in the readers. Green seems to reign supreme in this novel, it's so watery, fluid, versatile. So yin as the Chinese might describe it. I hope Mrs. Irving invites us back for tea in her forbidden garden.
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Choisya
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : (Off topic) Typewriters/computers

[ Edited ]
Hi and welcome back Danielle! I remember the early WANG computers well because my daughter taught our Prime-Minister-to-be how to use one when he was first elected to Parliament in 1983:smileyhappy:. I don't think the book says what sort of typewriter Roland and Val were using but there were several cheap electronic 'memory' typewriters on the market then, the precursors to word processors.

How about nominating a book by a French female author for us to read in the Autumn Danielle?




chadadanielleKR wrote:


CallMeLeo wrote:

Choisya wrote:
"...plum and plushy and dusty, a second hand stained-oak office desk, where Roland worked, and a newer varnished beech desk, where the typewriter sat. These were back to back on the long side-walls each with their Habitat anglepoise, Roland's black, Val's rose pink."





Thanks for the lamp links, Choisya. Now I know what a Habitat anglepoise looks like!

What jumped out at me from this quote after reading some of the reading discussion questions posted elsewhere is the contrast of masculine and feminine in the choice of colors in their individual lamps - Roland's black and Val's rose pink. In such a close environment they are anxious to distinguish their space in little ways.


Hi choisya,
Thanks for the lamps also, moreover that I am reading the novel in French and the translator thought that those were shelves with an angle shape (I'll write him a note!).
As far as I remember, in those days we had an electric typewriter at home and a word processor in the office called WANG (in the US, Washington D.C.). In 1988, the office (in France) gave us an old wordprocessor and this was the end of the typewriter, the computer came early in the 1990's.

Message Edited by Choisya on 05-31-200701:35 AM

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Peppermill
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : The Movie and Re-reading Possession

Choisya -- thanks for the suggestion of watching the movie. I headed for the local Blockbusters yesterday and returned with Possession and The Queen for hours of back-to-back cinema and Britain last night. I hadn't read Possession since 1991, so the movie was a marvelous re-introduction. All the comments here about the beauty of the settings as well as the bowdlerizing of the text and characters to fit the demands of two hours of cinema seemed absolutely on target. Neil Labute's comments also added immeasurably to my understandings of both Byatt and the movie version. (director) I wish Ms. Byatt had been able (willing?) to add her comments. Labute credits her prestige and network with making a number of the locations available for shootings. I was intrigued by the casting changes in the nationalities of so many of the main characters. Those worked well for me, but they must have been difficult for Byatt aficionados at the time of its release.

As I re-read these notes here this morning on color, I think I will go back and watch the film one more time. Although green is emphasized, I think a number of other (significant?) color changes were made -- the one I will particularly look at is the basement apartment of Roland.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Choisya
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : The Movie and Re-reading Possession

Do let us know what you find out about colour Peppermill - are the Anglepoise lamps there in pink and black? I am afraid I can't remember:smileysad: Here is an offbeat review of the film which strikes a few chords with me:-

http://www.wombatfile.com/archives/000585.html




Peppermill wrote:
Choisya -- thanks for the suggestion of watching the movie. I headed for the local Blockbusters yesterday and returned with Possession and The Queen for hours of back-to-back cinema and Britain last night. I hadn't read Possession since 1991, so the movie was a marvelous re-introduction. All the comments here about the beauty of the settings as well as the bowdlerizing of the text and characters to fit the demands of two hours of cinema seemed absolutely on target. Neil Labute's comments also added immeasurably to my understandings of both Byatt and the movie version. (director) I wish Ms. Byatt had been able (willing?) to add her comments. Labute credits her prestige and network with making a number of the locations available for shootings. I was intrigued by the casting changes in the nationalities of so many of the main characters. Those worked well for me, but they must have been difficult for Byatt aficionados at the time of its release.

As I re-read these notes here this morning on color, I think I will go back and watch the film one more time. Although green is emphasized, I think a number of other (significant?) color changes were made -- the one I will particularly look at is the basement apartment of Roland.


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CallMeLeo
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : Robin Goodfellow & Sloane Rangers



Choisya wrote:
And in a way Roland and Maude become 'outlaws' of their University departments? There are also echoes of Browning's puzzling Childe Roland here...



I'm beginning to find them outlaws in their academic thinking as well. They have a protectiveness of the information they are finding. They seem to fear what other scholars would make of it.
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CallMeLeo
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : A Room of One's Own

Maud lives in Tennyson Tower at Lincoln University. Of course now I see the link to Tennyson's poems "The Lady of Shallot" and "Maud"!

As I read, an image of women isolated, or isolating themselves, begins to appear. Maud in her intellectual tower, Christabel and Blanche in Bethany house, Beatrice in her "nest" of Ellen Ash's papers, and Val emotionally. They are shutting out the world. They are protective of the inner world they have created. (Why does this image of women remind me of Virginia Woolf all of a sudden?) They are subject to invasion - or to the contrary, to break free. Actual Victorian poetry, based on medieval tales, warn of the consequences of making either choice. The stories The Glass Coffin (Chapter 4)and The Threshold (Chapter 9) by LaMotte, I think hint at happier possibilities.
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CallMeLeo
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : Significance of the colour green

Yes! I see green everywhere in the novel, and the image of water, too. I had to look up your reference to yin. (Funny how one can know of something but not really know it.) Here's what I found:

Yin (Chinese: 陰 or 阴; pinyin: yīn; literally "shady place, north slope (hill), south bank (river); cloudy, overcast - is the dark element: it is passive, dark, feminine, downward-seeking, and corresponds to the night.

Yin is often symbolized by water or earth, while yang is symbolized by fire or wind.




piihonua wrote:
The Serpent, the peacock and the wardrobe...
I love the way the theme of colors has sparked an interest in the readers. Green seems to reign supreme in this novel, it's so watery, fluid, versatile. So yin as the Chinese might describe it. I hope Mrs. Irving invites us back for tea in her forbidden garden.

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CallMeLeo
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : Academic Outlaws

[ Edited ]

CallMeLeo wrote:


Choisya wrote:
And in a way Roland and Maude become 'outlaws' of their University departments? There are also echoes of Browning's puzzling Childe Roland here...




I'm beginning to find them outlaws in their academic thinking as well. They have a protectiveness of the information they are finding. They seem to fear what other scholars would make of it.

In Chapter 4 Maud says "...it's the language that matters, isn't it, it's what went on in her mind--" In one of her letters, Christabel also spoke to Ash about the "life of language" being most important. Roland and Maud seem to be havin a conflict with contemporary scholarship that is based on sensationalism and airing of dirty linen for best effect.

Yet it's not necessarily the work of the poet that has changed but society itself, and we look into the old to find something new that speaks to us, even if it is distorted and not the author's original intent. How can someone who's dead retain their privacy? I think that's the conflict that Roland and Maud begin to feel.

Message Edited by CallMeLeo on 06-01-200703:32 PM

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phatrose
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7

Hello jd!

I read the book long before the movie came out. As a matter of fact, I picked it up off of a discounted book table in one of our local bookstores. The cover was so beautiful and caught my eye, but I didn't read it for a year or so. When I started traveling overseas a lot, I'd take books that I just left sitting around. I fell in love with this book and I actually love the movie as well.

I worked in a 3-story music library with a huge archives room, so I understand being taken aback at the thought of someone taking an important piece of history. BUT, I was so glad that he did! After meeting the cast of characters in the beginning of the book, I think that he just might have been the one to SAVE this piece of history.
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Choisya
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : A Room of One's Own

Some nice observations Leonora - thanks! I begin to find the plethora of literary allusions rather tiresome and 'too clever by half' though. Do you think Byatt making fun of academics in using so many of them? I have been wondering whether there is a checklist of them anywhere but can't find one on the net.



CallMeLeo wrote:
Maud lives in Tennyson Tower at Lincoln University. Of course now I see the link to Tennyson's poems "The Lady of Shallot" and "Maud"!

As I read, an image of women isolated, or isolating themselves, begins to appear. Maud in her intellectual tower, Christabel and Blanche in Bethany house, Beatrice in her "nest" of Ellen Ash's papers, and Val emotionally. They are shutting out the world. They are protective of the inner world they have created. (Why does this image of women remind me of Virginia Woolf all of a sudden?) They are subject to invasion - or to the contrary, to break free. Actual Victorian poetry, based on medieval tales, warn of the consequences of making either choice. The stories The Glass Coffin (Chapter 4)and The Threshold (Chapter 9) by LaMotte, I think hint at happier possibilities.


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CallMeLeo
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : A Room of One's Own

I know what you mean! Though I haven't read her other works, (I have ANGELS AND INSECTS waiting on my bookshelf), my feeling is she is deeply intellectual, knows her stuff, and is not shy about it. It can be off-putting. Here is a review of her work THE BIOGRAPHER'S TALE by Publisher's Weekly:

"This calls into question the whole issue of biographical accuracy and allows Byatt, who all along has been taking swipes at poststructural literary criticism, to introduce arch observations about the current fad of psychoanalytic biography.In addition to the theme of doubles and doppelgangers, Byatt's (Possession; Angels and Insects) familiar preoccupation with insects, myths, spirits, metamorphoses and sexuality all come into play. The book is an erudite joke carried off with verve and humor. American audiences may not be quite so patient as the British :smileysurprised: :smileyhappy:, however, in indulging Byatt's many tangents."

My first reading of POSSESSION was for the story. Now I'm trying to follow the literary allusions, the poetical sources, and some of Byatt's many "tangents". It makes for much slower reading.

In POSSESSION she is definitely aiming her critical eye at academic research and women's place in it. We see how Ash's place in poetry has always been perceived as higher compared to Christabel, yet how in the late 20th century, feminists were more than happy to claim her and venerate her as their own; or how the gentle Beatrice took her "place" in research on the suggestion of Dr. Bengsstrom, but is now perceived as out of place by modern feminists, or their attack on Maud for her hair. I enjoy following the arc of social history. It abounds in ironies. POSSESSION makes for rich reading, but it's so varied you can pick and choose to take from it what you want. :smileyhappy:



Choisya wrote:
I begin to find the plethora of literary allusions rather tiresome and 'too clever by half' though. Do you think Byatt making fun of academics in using so many of them?

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Peppermill
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : A Room of One's Own


Choisya wrote:
...I begin to find the plethora of literary allusions rather tiresome and 'too clever by half' though. Do you think Byatt making fun of academics in using so many of them? I have been wondering whether there is a checklist of them anywhere but can't find one on the net.


I found exactly that cleverness very off-putting the first time through "Possessions." Maybe after Milton's Paradise Lost, I am a little more tolerant. I find it amusing, both with Milton and with Byatt, how it is sometimes impossible to figure when they are being down-putting of their colleagues or institutions, or ironically of themselves, or of simply being themselves, or perhaps a combination of several or all.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Fozzie
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 - Ash and Roland

I am very interested in CallMeLeo’s idea about images “of women isolated, or isolating themselves.” I had noticed that parallel between Val and Ellen Ash, but hadn’t extended it to the other women.

I noticed what I believe to be a similarity between Randolph Henry Ash and Roland.

We can assume from the reading so far that Randolph Henry Ash is at least tempted by an affair, which would betray Ellen.

We also note from these quotes that Roland could easily drift away from Val.

“[Val] even wrote her Required Essay on ‘Male Ventriloquism: The Women of Randolph Henry Ash.’ Roland did not want this. When he suggested that she should strike out on her own, make herself noticed, speak up, she accused him of ‘taunting’ her.” (Ch. 2, Pg. 16 of my paperback)

“When Val was gone, Roland realized, with a shock like a religious conversion, that he did not want their way of life to go on.” (Ch. 2, Pg. 17 of my paperback)

“’At least you want me,’ she told Roland, her face damp and glistening. ‘I don’t know why you should want me, I’m no good, but you do.’ ‘Of course I do,’ Roland had said. ‘Of course.’” (Ch. 2, Pg. 17 of my paperback)

As I continue reading, I am going to be looking for more on this parallel and other possible commonalities between Randolph Henry Ash’s life and Roland’s life.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Choisya
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : A Room of One's Own

Yes, it is rich reading indeed and impossible to take in at one reading unless you are an academic versed in the ways of poststructural literary criticism methinks:smileyhappy:




CallMeLeo wrote:
I know what you mean! Though I haven't read her other works, (I have ANGELS AND INSECTS waiting on my bookshelf), my feeling is she is deeply intellectual, knows her stuff, and is not shy about it. It can be off-putting. Here is a review of her work THE BIOGRAPHER'S TALE by Publisher's Weekly:

"This calls into question the whole issue of biographical accuracy and allows Byatt, who all along has been taking swipes at poststructural literary criticism, to introduce arch observations about the current fad of psychoanalytic biography.In addition to the theme of doubles and doppelgangers, Byatt's (Possession; Angels and Insects) familiar preoccupation with insects, myths, spirits, metamorphoses and sexuality all come into play. The book is an erudite joke carried off with verve and humor. American audiences may not be quite so patient as the British :smileysurprised: :smileyhappy:, however, in indulging Byatt's many tangents."

My first reading of POSSESSION was for the story. Now I'm trying to follow the literary allusions, the poetical sources, and some of Byatt's many "tangents". It makes for much slower reading.

In POSSESSION she is definitely aiming her critical eye at academic research and women's place in it. We see how Ash's place in poetry has always been perceived as higher compared to Christabel, yet how in the late 20th century, feminists were more than happy to claim her and venerate her as their own; or how the gentle Beatrice took her "place" in research on the suggestion of Dr. Bengsstrom, but is now perceived as out of place by modern feminists, or their attack on Maud for her hair. I enjoy following the arc of social history. It abounds in ironies. POSSESSION makes for rich reading, but it's so varied you can pick and choose to take from it what you want. :smileyhappy:



Choisya wrote:
I begin to find the plethora of literary allusions rather tiresome and 'too clever by half' though. Do you think Byatt making fun of academics in using so many of them?




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Peppermill
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : The Movie and Re-reading Possession



Choisya wrote:
Do let us know what you find out about colour Peppermill - are the Anglepoise lamps there in pink and black? I am afraid I can't remember:smileysad: Here is an offbeat review of the film which strikes a few chords with me:-

http://www.wombatfile.com/archives/000585.html




Peppermill wrote:



Choisya -- finally replayed the appropriate scene often enough to be able to say with some certainly that the Anglepoise lamp in the film is stainless steel (of course, Val disappeared from the screenplay, so hers is not there). There appears to be some sort of terminal rather than a typewriter on Roland's desk, although it didn't match products that I knew from that era -- maybe it was a design more widely available in Britain. (I was rather involved in terminal design at that point in my life, so I re-ran that clip several times.)

The couch was definitely bright red rather than plum. The apricot theme appears in the modern wallpaper at Yorkshire rather than in the basement apartment. I think there may have been still more of this "color shifting," but I didn't take the time to explore in any more detail. Certainly green showed up many wonderful places besides Christabel's garb, including in the club chairs.

The desk may well have been beech, but as Seymour Cray said to a salesman of his supercomputers: "You don't know your woods, either."
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Choisya
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Re: POSSESSION: Chapters 1 - 7 : The Movie and Re-reading Possession

Thanks a lot Peppermill - I think we can safely say the the director of the film used quite a lot of poetic licence:smileyhappy:.



Peppermill wrote:


Choisya wrote:
Do let us know what you find out about colour Peppermill - are the Anglepoise lamps there in pink and black? I am afraid I can't remember:smileysad: Here is an offbeat review of the film which strikes a few chords with me:-

http://www.wombatfile.com/archives/000585.html




Peppermill wrote:



Choisya -- finally replayed the appropriate scene often enough to be able to say with some certainly that the Anglepoise lamp in the film is stainless steel (of course, Val disappeared from the screenplay, so hers is not there). There appears to be some sort of terminal rather than a typewriter on Roland's desk, although it didn't match products that I knew from that era -- maybe it was a design more widely available in Britain. (I was rather involved in terminal design at that point in my life, so I re-ran that clip several times.)

The couch was definitely bright red rather than plum. The apricot theme appears in the modern wallpaper at Yorkshire rather than in the basement apartment. I think there may have been still more of this "color shifting," but I didn't take the time to explore in any more detail. Certainly green showed up many wonderful places besides Christabel's garb, including in the club chairs.

The desk may well have been beech, but as Seymour Cray said to a salesman of his supercomputers: "You don't know your woods, either."