Written on the Body

Written on the Body Written On The Body Is A Secret Code Only Visible In Certain Lights The Accumulation Of A Lifetime Gather There In Places The Palimpsest Is So Heavily Worked That The Letters Feel Like Braille I Like To Keep My Body Rolled Away From Prying Eyes, Never Unfold Too Much, Tell The Whole Story I Didn T Know That Louise Would Have Reading Hands She Has Translated Me Into Her Own Book

Novelist Jeanette Winterson was born in Manchester, England in 1959 She was adopted and brought up in Accrington, Lancashire, in the north of England Her strict Pentecostal Evangelist upbringing provides the background to her acclaimed first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, published in 1985 She graduated from St Catherine s College, Oxford, and moved to London where she worked as an assi

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  • Paperback
  • 192 pages
  • Written on the Body
  • Jeanette Winterson
  • English
  • 10 August 2019
  • 9780679744474

10 thoughts on “Written on the Body

  1. says:

    You know how it is when your friends fall madly in love with someone a new girlfriend , or something Guitar Hero, Battlestar Galactica , and wear you out during the honeymoon phase babbling on about his her its awesomeness, sometimes in excruciating detail If you re not in a similar situation, or worse, wish you were, it s damn near unendurable For God s sake, don t read this book unless you can stand to read about sheer, uninhibited passion, often in graphic detail The pointedly genderless narrator, having wandered through the nooks and crannies of various male and female lovers, falls head over heels for Louise, and, when foolish enough to lose her, spends roughly a third of the book singing paeans to her entire body It s Winterson at her most self indulgent, but in this case, her enthusiasm is well suited to its subject If you ve ever been stupid in love with someone, you can sympathize with narrator x, and appreciate Winterson s matchless style Definitely a book you ve got to be in the right mood for, by which I mean if you re in an unhappy relationship or you aren t seeing anyone and wish you were, or God help you just got dumped, stay the hell away If you re bazonkers about someone right now or otherwise don t mind, read this, it will thrill you.

  2. says:

    A genderless narrator leafs through past affairs with men and women, contrasting them with his her present relationship with Louise, a married woman What I most admired about Winterson s approach to this tragic romance is the naturalness with which she approaches homosexual and bisexual relationships, which makes a case for the idea that gender is but a sociocultural construct, a concept that certainly shouldn t define the traits of any relationship, or in this case, of the narrator, who seems humane and very plausible even without attributed male or female stereotyped features Another aspect that I found remarkable was the middle section of the novel, which is devoted to create an ode to the body of the lover, some sort of poetic exaltation about every inch of the beloved s flesh, even her cells and tissues, presenting them as virgin territories to discover, to bask in, and finally, to conquer.Why my temperate response, then spoilers ahead I thought the story didn t need the element of a terminal illness to make a point about loving and losing the person who finally teaches us selfless love In addition, the narrator s point of view is contemplative and locked within his her version of events, and even though the novel is replete with memorable quotes, I was a bit overwhelmed with the exuberant stylistic resources employed to draw the narrator s inner world The ending is open to interpretation, and that gave the escalating pace of the last pages an anti climatic closure, and I couldn t help but compare it with Baldwin s Giovanni s Room , a novel that deals with similar issues and offers a broader and, in my opinion, subtler but incisive vision of love, loss and grief without employing sentimentality as the final trick Giovanni s empty room shook me a thousand times than Winterson s veneration of a lover s body.

  3. says:

    It is hard to review Jeanette Winterson Every single one of her short novels is a work of art, beautiful and painfully true while magically exploring the limits of reality.I read The Passion and thought I would not like it, because I don t do historical fiction It was breath taking, unbelievable, eye opening The recurring theme accompanies me ever since Somewhere between fear and sex, passion is I read Sexing the Cherry and thought I could not possibly like it , because The Passion made such an impression on me, and I was blown away Pure magic To evaluate the other novels by her I have read, I have to reread them, because the language and the plot are always so carefully interlinked, it is hard to explain the massive effect of her words from memory This weekend I started the process with Written On The Body, which I remembered only vaguely, thinking I had liked it despite not being fond of love stories And I swear, the book now is tattooed, written into my soul Picking up the recurring themes of desire, passion, and deceit, it explores the nature of love against all odds, against rational thinking, against one s own body.The main idea is to describe the complete surrender a person experiences when he or she loves unconditionally, and how that leaves traces, not only on the soul, but on the body itself The intensity of the feeling is engraved on the body.It is shockingly honest in its approach to adultery, deceit, and the randomness of love Love is all consuming, but rarely something purely beautiful Its start can be a banality, the door to love opened by accident Her butler opened it for her His name was Boredom She said, Boredom, fetch me a plaything He said Very good ma am, and putting on his white gloves so that fingerprints would not show he tapped at my heart and I thought he said his name was Love As always, Winterson mixes deep feelings with sarcastic comical effects It would have been good to have lain down there and made love under the moon, but the truth is that, outside of the movies and the Country and Western songs, the outdoors is an itchy business The nameless main character plays many different relationship roles over the course of the story The adventurous affair, the unhappy love, the comfortable stable partnership I was rigorous, hard working and and what was that word with B again You re bored, my friend said.I protested with all the fervour of a teetotaller caught glancing at the bottle I was content I had settled And then the big LOVE strikes, the one that goes straight through the body and soul and leaves the character marked for life, literally No rational thinking helps Wisdom says forget The body howls In the end, there is something like a happy ending, a beginning as well, a couple of human beings let loose in the open fields.This is a Winterson, through and through, every word weighing heavily, every emotion raw Read it if you can bear to have the pain of love written on your body.

  4. says:

    On the surface, this is a sensual, reflective, and sometimes humorous recollection of the narrator s loves won and lost, compared with the current one Unwelcome news triggers a difficult choice, with huge ramifications It was made with love, but was it the right decision, and did the narrator even have the right to make it It s a curious amalgam of styles, yet unmistakably Winterson, including a set of short, abstract sections, and the fact the bisexual narrator s gender is unspecified.But peel back the gilt and what s beneath is not so straightforward All the best literature has a unique message for every reader, on each encounter Gilt reflects what spoke to me is not what you will hear and respond to Image Antique mirror Source I found this shockingly, painfully good I knew it was about relationships and was ambiguous about gender, but I was unprepared for the raw dissection of loss It punched hard, but was shot through with love Definitely the right book at the right time for me Why is the measure of love loss The opening line, repeated later, brought tears It s the converse of my recent experience of grief as the price of love love with nowhere to go But nevertheless, and without question, Love is worth it You don t get over it because it is the person you loved. Image My father s keys, his writing instantly recognisable from just four letters No one tells you in grief counselling or books on loss what it will be like when you find part of the beloved unexpectedly. Love is I went to church I wanted the comfort of other people s faith. The Bible of her childhood infuses atheist Winterson s writing, and this is no exception phrases, ideas, and liturgical repetition and rhythm Here, it s most obvious in how the emotional nomad writes about love Love demands expression It will not stay still, stay silent, be good, be modest, be seen and not heard, no. and No one can legislate love it cannot be given orders or cajoled into service Love belongs to itself, deaf to pleading and unmoved by violence Love is not something you can negotiate Love is the one thing stronger than desire and the only proper reason to resist temptation. From 1 Corinthians 13, v4 8 NIV Love is patient, love is kind It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud It does not dishonor others, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres Love never fails. But I don t think the Bible is right love can fail What then kills love Only this neglect. The other message, from way back in 1992, is that gender doesn t matter there is no question or hand wringing it s not relevant to the story Image Love is love in current parlance. Source Marriage Is happiness always a compromise Contentment are you sure it s not an absence of feeling In my teens, I remember my father quoting allegedly Prince Philip Marriage is the highest form of prostitution There is truth in that, touched on repeatedly here We all exchange things for sex and love our motives are mixed and rarely pure And the promises of marriage can be hard to keep Marriage is the flimsiest weapon against desire. Cheating is easy To borrow against the trust someone has placed in you costs nothing at first. The Translator, Translated Articulacy of the fingers signing on the body body longing. Your flesh is my flesh You deciphered me and now I am plain to read. The narrator is a translator there are many references to great literature, as usual for Winterson , but better in abstract than with those they love, let alone themself Written on the body is a secret code only visible in certain lights In places the palimpsest is so heavily worked that the letters feel like Braille I didn t know that Louse would have reading hands She has translated me into her own book. Bio anatomical Prose Poetry I know the stigmata of presumption. There are no chapters, but two thirds through, there are four short sections that defy easy description semi abstract musings on cells, skin, skeleton, and special senses , as the narrator agonises over anticipatory loss in a profound and sensual way To remember you it s my own body I touch. Ending Is this the proper ending If not the proper then the inevitable As I approached the end, I was nervous I wasn t sure what a happy ending would be, but knew I didn t want one I need not have feared It is everything and nothing interpret as you like I could quote the whole closing paragraph, without fear of spoilers.In her brilliant autobiography, Why be Happy when you Could be Normal see my review HERE , Winterson categorises three types of ending revenge, tragedy and forgiveness Both books contain all three.Other QuotesMemory of Love How easy is it to destroy the past and how difficult to forget it Wisdom says forget The body howls I ve tried to get you out of my head but I can t seem to get you out of my flesh I don t want to be reminded of you, I want you The power of memory is such that it can lift reality for a time Relationships and Fallout I used to think of marriage as a plate glass window just begging for a brick Odd that marriage, a public display and free to all, gives way to that most secret of liaisons, an adulterous affair I had to keep my heart to myself in case I infected somebody with emotional clap You never give away your heart you lend it from time to time I had no dreams to possess you but I wanted you to possess me With old friends you know one another as well as lovers do and you have less to pretend about so you re likely to be honest Dry Humour The ultimate act of selfishness a woman who put herself first Her husband lies over her like a tarpaulin The women wore their jewellery like medals a palimpsest of love affairs on show at the opera I d run my hands over her padded flesh with all the enthusiasm of a second hand sofa dealer They considered themselves to be Australian aristocracy, that is, they were descended from convicts She had a steady hand but she like to spill It made work for her daughter Other What you risk reveals what you value People usually know exactly why they are happy They very rarely know why they are miserable Winterson is queen of the extended metaphor This is one of many others include maps, animals, jigsaws When she lifted the soup spoon to her lips how I longed to be that innocent piece of stainless steel Let me be diced carrot, vermicelli, just so that you will take me in your mouth I envied the French stick I watched her break and butter each piece, soak it slowly in her bowl, let it float, grow heavy and fat, sink under the deep red weight and then be resurrected to the glorious pleasure of her teeth I will taste you if only through your cooking.

  5. says:

    Jeanette Winterson impressed me last year when I read her magical tale of historical fiction, The Passion Her poetic, interior style really resonated with me Her work lays deep in the physical heart while also sparkling on an ethereal plane.This book knocked me out Her sheer artistry had me in admiration A bit slack jawed, actually For example, the main character is not only nameless I ve seen that before but is an every person Winterson doesn t tell us if they are male or female Quite a feat for a book replete with sensual body worshipping between lovers The effect is powerful the reader can put themselves in the place of the narrator, or insert whatever gender they see, it being secondary to the train wreck of LOVE that takes centre stage.Our main character has fallen in love with a woman, who is married to a man The first part of this book is about their affair Brace yourself It is full of scalding truths about love, marriage and infidelity There is much talk about love, and not all of it is corsets, sunsets and long stemmed roses Marriage is the flimsiest weapon against desire You may as well take a pop gun to a python The next part of the book is an anatomical ode to the body of the beloved The skin, the bones, the cavities, the senses, they have affected the narrator in a manner just as profound as any other quality that inspires love It s hard to know whether it s love that imprints on the body, or the body that sears its own tattoo on the soul of the person who loves them Perhaps it is both.It is poetic, lyrical, and philosophical, but there s just the right amount of story to carry you along to the end, which, incidentally, I thought was perfect Nail me to you I will ride you like a nightmare You are the winged horse Pegasus who would not be saddled

  6. says:

    Listen along please When you fall in love with someone, I mean really fall, you become obsessed with the things that are written on the body The scar on her elbow from when she tripped over the curb, the chip in his tooth from when he fell from his skateboard that tiny birthmark behind her knee Each mark tells a story Knowing the story brings you closer The burn mark on her hand from when she touched the hot stove the freckles that dot the small of his back and look like Orion that little heart on her hip that few people know about the fillings in his mouth that you scan with your tongue So many things that happened before you met are imprinted on her body to form a thousand memories As you begin a life together, you become a part of those stories you know every mole, every line, every new wrinkle, every gray hair Written on the Body is a beautifully written and powerful story about all of the pleasure and pain of loving, the cruelty of not loving enough and everything in between The narrator seems to be in love with being in love I m addicted to the first 6 months You re right there with her him It s unclear as she falls in When she lifted the soup spoon to her lips how I longed to be that innocent piece of stainless steel I would gladly have traded the blood in my body for half a pint of vegetable stock Let me be diced carrot, vermicelli, just so that you will take me in your mouth The way Winterson writes is breathtaking So often love stories are trite and sugary and predictable But I didn t see this one coming It was magical Pure poetry Addendum I meant to appeal to anyone who has read this book, please, let s discuss the ending I wasn t sure what to make of it.

  7. says:

    I was reading thru some of the reviews for this book I ll just say that it s beautifully written This book moved me I cried with about twenty pages to go My heart expanded and ached a little bit I felt for the narrator who we have to guess woman or man and for Louise I love the narrator This book is about love, relationships, loss, and is a bit hope filled at the end The opening sentence Why is the measure of love loss and the book takes you from there I finished it in a day Not a lot of pages and would have finished it in just 3 4 hours had it not been for it s language lending itself to my own experiences in relationships and thoughts about love One third of the way in I wanted to start over so I wouldn t be so near the end At times I had to stop reading and go out and sit in the sun, put my feet in the grass, listen to the rustle of a tree in our backyard I saw a hummingbird A dragonfly The reading of this book was competing with nature all day Only when the day settled could I concentrate enough to finish it up All in all, my life is richer for having read this book.

  8. says:

    Her artistry makes my mouth drop open The most poetic, passionate, erotic book, it sits on my shelf with Duras The Lover and Rikki Ducornet s The Word Desire and Anne Carson s The Beauty of the Husband But it could also be shelved with Proust s Swann s Way for the sensual cling of memory and Chekhov s Lady with the Lapdog for its sadness The poetry of its prose is incomparable A meditation on sensual life and the meaning of love As Carson said, Beauty is what makes sex, sex A lover of undetermined gender describing a relationship with a married woman And what a lover What deft ability to capture our thoughts about love Our, meaning the human being For what is writing besides capturing thoughts that belong to all of us, so that we can recognize ourselves, undestand ourselves, and perhaps, each other Every thoughtful book about love makes us better lovers, I think It opens the gates of perception.

  9. says:

    Can love have texture It is palpable to me, the feeling between us, I weight it in my hands the way I weight your head in my hands It gives me a loose limbed confidence to know you ll be there I m expected.There s continuum There s freedom. Written On The Body is than a book, than a story, than anything even remotely quantifiable Written on the Body is an accurate study on the power of consequences, a retrospection on pure and unconditionate love, written with the passion of a thousand broken dreams The way it deals with sickness and pain and betrayal, moving from prose to authentic poetry in the same sentence, is what gives this book its aching and mangled edges What places it within hand s reach I love the writing style and its tones It was less like reading facts and like actually feeling them properly on and under my very own skin The caresses, the tears, the smells, the wrong choices Everything that could leave a tiny bittersweet scar in my reader s heart, it did It helps that the narrating voice has no name and no gender They re a character so deep and wounded by their present and past that it s way too easy to slide into their shoes and pretend you re experiencing the biggest and warmest kind of love of all times I m in love with that ending It s pure perfection Written on the body is a se red code only visible in certain lights. First buddy read of the year with my beautiful Swaye Thanks for recommending me such another beautiful gem and for sharing it with me I ll always trust your taste in books

  10. says:

    An interesting, sometimes funny, moving meditation on love and loss The narrator, a translator of Russian fiction, is never named and his her gender is deliberately ambiguous he she describes relationships with a number of lovers, mostly female but some male The first half is fairly light in tone, as he she describes the various affairs leading up to and including the dominant one which forms the main theme of the story, with a married woman called Louise, whose husband Elgin is a cancer specialist Louise eventually decides to leave her husband.The tone shifts abrubtly about halfway through, as Elgin tells the narrator that Louise is suffering from a form of leukemia that gives her an expected 100 months to live, and maybe less if she does not agree to the treatment he prescribes, so the narrator breaks off their relationship to allow the treatment, moving away to a cottage in rural Yorkshire The second half begins rather oddly, as the narrator writes tributes to her which largely consist of a litany of possible symptoms The narrator starts to suspect that Elgin is not telling all he knows, and eventually discovers that he has been deceiving them, setting off on a fruitless search for Louise So if the first part is mostly about love, lust, obsession and betrayal, the second is dominated by loss and morbidity, though never without the occasional touch of humour The whole has a quiet power that gradually accumulates, particularly towards the end.Thanks to the Reading the 20th Century group for choosing this one as a group read.

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