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Perfect Passion? I think so!!,
This review is from: The Passion (Vintage Blue) (Paperback)
'Bridges join but they also separate.'
'I like the collision between different realities', she says, as she prepares two mugs of Irish tea. 'It's exciting at the level of the imagination, because it allows for an expansion of perspectives. For example, you are walking down a real street and you also in a street in your mind that hardly exists.' ( Winterson)
Winterson's narratives play with the tension between connnection and rupture. She invests in narratives which 'interrupt' their coherence and sequencing through epigrammatic phrasing , thereby exposing the falsity of linearity, and the way that 'history' tries to impose 'grand narratives' which suppress the anomalous and individual.
Hence Winterson narrates The Passion from the persepctive of two 'minor' voices from History: these ordinarily voiceless narrators offer their views of Napoleon and his Russian catastrophes in personal and idiosyncratic registers whcih dismantle the supposedly 'original' Historical truth.
'Villanelle' wears a name which bears witness to her duality; 'villain' and 'elle' , the peasant and the poem. She is a hybrid subject whose adpatability serves to save her life and her heart through the graphic traumas of 'history.'
Henri too embraces both 'masculine' and 'feminine' behaviours opting in the end to preserve the sanctity of his love and heart through the solitude of San Servelo, an island's exile which echoes that of his hero Napoleon .
Do our choices make us mad or sane?
Hybrid narratives abound. We 'hear' echoes of other texts throughout the novel, we recognise the ways in which 'Venice' itself is a hybrid city, a place where boundaries between this and that, between past and present, between fear and sex blur and encounter each other, again and again.
And who would we choose to be? The pragmatic Villanelle or the idealistic Henri ? A bit like the Clash song: 'should I stay or should i go?'
Do we choose to cut our losses and move forward embracing eros and the 'kinetic' or do we retreat to an island, a rock of peace and thanatos, viewing reality from the security and sanctity of distance- and await an end?
'Passion is for the singleminded...'
'So you refuse and then discover that your house is haunted by a leopard.'
Who would dare to be Orpheus?!