Title: Love (Vintage Minis Series)
Writer: Jeanette Winterson
Publishing House: Penguin
Date of Publication: June 8th 2017
Rating: 5 stars
‘’Love as the night-haunter, the blood-hunter, the body’s rack, antagonist of conscience. Love as the space between utility and despair. Love as the enemy of ease.’’
The Vintage Minis series is a wonderful new project by Penguin. Taken from some of the greatest writers ever, short extracts from novels, stories and essays compose a slim volume dedicated to the themes that turn Literature into a magnificent universe, that drive stories forth, reflecting our lives and feelings. Freedom, Death, Liberty, Despair, Race, Desire, Love, Motherhood…Out of 30 volumes that contain small treasures of wisdom on the experiences that make us humans, I chose to start with Love by Jeanette Winterson. I don’t think any other writer understands and communicates this feeling with such complexity, spirituality and clarity like Winterson.
I came face-to-face with a major surprise here. I thought this was going to be a collection of extracts on the themes of Love taken from Winterson’s most acclaimed works. Instead, I found myself on an even more wonderful journey as she communicates her thoughts behind her choice of themes in the books included, as she opens up on her life and experiences that shaped each work. How I loved her guidance towards passages of raw, unafraid beauty. Her rejection of all the silly labels we love to stick on writers based on their sexes, their sexuality, their race, their political and religious backgrounds. She writes about love towards our own selves, love between lovers (free of traditional gender restrictions), love (or the lack of it) between a mother and a child. The abundance of love, the lack of it. Our hope to be loved, our fear of loving in return. The death-like numbness when love is lost and hearts are broken. Love in our technological-savvy, cold era when feelings and human beings are suddenly turned into statistics on a mobile device. Love within the boundaries of the past, Love as a myth, a blessing and a curse…
‘’What to say? That the end of love is a haunting. A haunting of dreams. A haunting of silence. Haunted by ghosts, it is easy to become a ghost. […] A dead body feels no pain.’’
I fell in love with Winterson when we read Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit for our Gender Studies class in university. Here, she talks about transgressive love but her focus is on how literary works are perceived by the readers on this ground. In a beautiful paragraph, Winterson says that ‘’Literature is an engagement with our deepest selves.’’ Why the need for labels? Why the need to reject something that doesn’t look tailor made on our image of what love should be? These were my thoughts….
In The Passion, there is a tangled web of identities, sexual desire, secrets and the beautiful setting of Venice in the Napoleonic era. Winterson connects Love to Truth and lying.
In Sexing the Cherry, a giantess is longing to be loved but fear doesn’t let that happen. So, loneliness and revenge are juxtaposed to her love for Jordan, her adopted son. On a side note, I need to read this novel, I don’t know why I haven’t yet…
In Art and Lies, three historical figures, Hendel, Picasso and Sappho, each one with a distinctive relationship with Love, all allowing the public to form an arbitrary image of them. What would Art be without Love? How much can we claim to know about an artist’s feelings of love and desire?
The Powerbook is about Love in a digitalized era. About obligations and demands, about sadness and the excitement of a love that is forbidden and should remain a secret.
Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? is a so-called memoir that centers on adoption. Here, Winterson talks about the search for her biological mother. She says that if we come to think of our lives as stories, we will find the strength to write our own end, our own changes. I find this an encouraging, lovely thought…
Do you know the feeling of loving a book so much that your heart is about to burst as you are reading? Christmas Days, a collection of monumentally beautiful stories set around Christmas time, is one of those books which remind me why reading is the greatest pleasure in life. For me, at least. After all, what is Christmas if not Love?
I could talk about Jeanette Winterson for hours and I must have tired you already. I am not a veteran on sentimental Love, we two don’t quite fit together for many reasons, but Winterson (like every gifted writer) has the power to create such strong feelings with a mere sentence. I leave you with one of the most beautiful paragraphs I’ve ever read, taken from The Powerbook.
‘’Loving is like lifting a heavy stone. It would be easier not to do it and I’m not sure why I am doing it. It takes all my strength and all my determination and I said I wouldn’t love someone again like this. Is there any sence in loving someone you can only wake up to by chance?’’