Poet Protagonists


Possession by A.S. Byatt

Byatt’s Possession is so gorgeous and finely-wrought, it glimmers like a polished disc of jet. The novel toggles between two narratives, one set in modern times, the other in the Victorian era. Dual romances play out across the centuries as the male and female protagonists in each time period (the Victorians are poets, the modern characters are literary scholars who specialize in those same Victorian poets) explore poetry, sexuality, the occult, and each other. Byatt’s prose is poetic in nature, packed with symbolism, allusion, and metaphor. 

Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar 

Oh, Hopscotch! If you like mazes, “choose your own adventures”, skipping chapters, skidding back and forth between pages, and brilliant, wandering bohemians, Cortázar’s masterful puzzle of a novel is for you. The main character, Horatio Oliveria, is a poet and writer who falls into innumerable kerfuffles and hardships as he wanders both Paris and Buenos Aires with his artistic cohort. 

The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño 

The “Visceral Realists” are a boisterous band of poets who embark on a quest to locate the “original Visceral Realist,” Cesárea Tinajero. The novel sprawls out across the globe, as the narrative voice shifts between a variety of characters who lament elitist poetry of privilege and amplify the power of the real– the raw, transcendent language of the people. 

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