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.
aspects of the academic study of heresy is the importance and inescapability of thinking critically about the sources. The foundational work in the early twentieth century of Herbert Grundmann – identifying the recurrent topoi or literary stereotypes used to depict heretics, and the gap between these and reality – has since been joined by a host of other works. 7 Historians have focused particularly on critical approaches to inquisition records, seeing them as containing ‘filters’ or framing elements that distort the picture
growing around two of the most significant recurrent topoi in Winterson’s fiction, namely, the question of time and the search for that which cannot be found. The other forthcoming book Winterson mentioned to me in her e-mail is a novella entitled Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles, which she was commissioned to write by Canongate for a new series called ‘The Myths’. Winterson’s story was scheduled for publication in September 2005, in a boxset with stories written by Karen Armstrong and Margaret Atwood. In the excerpt from the foreword to Weight that appears in the
contacts, be they via the vertical realm, the geographical realm, or both. (1993: 49–50) Also relevant in this connection of the cosmo-logics of stranger-kingship is the large and venerable body of ‘hero literature’, notably in respect of the recurrent topoi of a passage through the wild and the foreign origins of the dynastic hero. All this and more can be found in the work of an unlikely source, the nineteenth-century Austrian Generalkonsul Johan Georg von Hahn, a disciple of Max Muller (summarised in Bremmer and Horsfall 1987). Von Hahn’s indulgence in Indo