Jeanette Winterson

Author: Susana Onega

This is a full-length study of Jeanette Winterson's work as a whole, containing in-depth analyses of her eight novels and cross-references to her minor fictional and non-fictional works. It establishes the formal, thematic and ideological characteristics of the novels, and situates the writer within the general panorama of contemporary British fiction. Earlier critics usually approached Winterson exclusively either as a key lesbian novelist, or as a heavily experimental and ‘arty’ writer, whose works are unnecessarily difficult and meaningless. By contrast, this book provides a comprehensive, ‘vertical’ analysis of the novels. It combines the study of formal issues – such as narrative structure, point of view, perspective and the handling of narrative and story time – with the thematic analysis of character types, recurrent topoi, intertextual and generic allusions, etc., focused from various analytical perspectives: narratology, lesbian and feminist theory (especially Cixous and Kristeva), Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, Jungian archetypal criticism, Tarot, Hermetic and Kabalistic symbolism, myth criticism, Newtonian and Post-Newtonian Physics, etc. Novels that read superficially, or appear simple and realistic, are revealed as complex linguistic artifacts with a convoluted structure and clogged with intertextual echoes of earlier writers and works. The conclusions show the inseparability of form and meaning (for example, the fact that all the novels have a spiralling structure reflects the depiction of self as fluid and of the world as a multiverse) and place Winterson within the trend of postmodernist British writers with a visionary outlook on art, such as Maureen Duffy, Marina Warner or Peter Ackroyd.

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