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The Possession

Annie Ernaux
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Annie Ernaux

The Possession

The central theme of many of the stories that were written under the pens of literary giants, such as Ovid, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Proust, Stendhal, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Margaret Atwood, is one of the most complex of emotions – jealousy. As the evolutionary anthropologist Helen Fischer described it: ‘’that sickening combination of possessiveness, suspicion, rage, and humiliation [that] can overtake your mind and threaten your very core as you contemplate your rival’’.

It is not love if there is no drop of jealousy present. So they say. But what actually is jealousy? A proof, a character trait, an insecurity, a social norm?

The existence of another woman in the life of the protagonist’s ex-husband opens a whole new chapter in her life and then, quite suddenly, another, unknown woman becomes the protagonist’s main thought. It invades every part of her body, every corner of her time, fills her days and her minutes, as if a completely different reality had begun to open up, questioning every element of her existence. Her obsession becomes the reader’s obsession too, forcing out intellect to look at what lies behind her limitations and how powerful the consciousness actually is against the unconscious, limitations of which it does not know.

The book is a compelling description of the loss of control over oneself. Jealousy is compared with occupied territory – you are completely possessed by someone you may never have met before. (BM)

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