Monday, October 24, 2005


Jeanette Winterson is an extraordinary, elusive, evocative and - in the most productive sense - an infuriating writer. Perhaps most widely known for Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, which unveils her own experience of a suffocating Christian fundamentalist upbringing, her new novel Weight (Canongate) weaves its unlikely web of influences from the Bible, Virginia Woolf's Orlando, TS Eliot's Four Quartets, the Moomintroll children's books by Tove Jansen and Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. In spite of all that organised religion has thrown at her, Winterson also retains a powerful un-theorised sense of transcendence. She writes: "There is a moment when you realise that the energy you're using is not your energy. When you're in that moment of absolute concentration, you feel that it's not you any more ... but something more impersonal, even spiritual, though I wouldn't call it God. All creative people recognise this. Where it comes from I don't know. But I know its there and not in the control of the individual."

See also Tim Conley on the JW muse in the The Modern Word's Scriptorium, including this full-frontal Sapphic jibe from Art and Lies (1994): "The spirit has gone out of the world. I fear the dead bodies settling around me, the corpses of humanity, fly-blown and ragged. I fear the executive zombies, the shop zombies, the Church zombies, the writerly zombies, all mouthing platitudes, the language of the dead, all mistaking hobbies for passions, the folly of the dead." [The official Winterson site is here. Image with thanks to The Modern Word]

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