Saturday, June 28

Homage or ripoff?

I'm finally starting to tuck in to Jeanette Winterson's newest novel, The Stone Gods. I don't want to say too much about it yet because I'm just a couple dozen pages in, but a passage struck me last night with such force that I have to write it down here so I can mull it over and pose the question in the title to the universe.

Winterson writes:

Step into that water and you remember everything, and what you don't remember, you invent.

That simple sentence reminds me so much of this passage from Les Guérillères by Monique Wittig:

There was a time when you were not a slave, remember that. You walked alone, full of laughter, you bathed bare-bellied. You say you have lost all recollection of it, remember . . . You say there are no words to describe this time, you say it does not exist. But remember. Make an effort to remember. Or, failing that, invent.

I'm almost positive that Winterson is at least familiar with Wittig's strange and wonderful feminist dystopian novel (some people call it a feminist utopian novel, but I argue otherwise), so I can't help but assume she's tipping her hat somewhat to Wittig's narrative. Still, it's a little weird to see a similarity like that just jump out.

I love Winterson's writing style and I can certainly see where she's influenced by Wittig in many ways. If you've never read Les Guérillères (pronounced "Leh Gary Air"), I must politely nag you to do so. It's unlike anything you've probably ever read before.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! I think I still have your copy of Les Guérillères! And I never finished it either. I'll read it next!!

Sun Jun 29, 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger BetteDavisLies said...

I read Wittig in Feminist Theory at the very earliest of my college career when I was around 18 or 19 years old. I should probably re-read it now that I am not such a pathetic, insecure sap. Back in those days, I was likely still watching what I ate in front of boys.

Mon Jun 30, 10:34:00 AM  

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