History and storytelling

Susana Onega

in Jeanette Winterson

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9780719068386
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701126 | DOI:
History and storytelling

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)


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This chapter discusses Winterson's third novel, The Passion. The Passion may be said to combine the parallel stories of two marginal witnesses to the Napoleonic wars, at the crucial moment in Hegelian World History when it was approaching its apocalyptic synthesis. One is Henri, a French soldier who joined the Grande armée because he wanted to be a drummer and ended up as chicken-neck wringer and personal cook to Napoleon. The other is Villanelle, a Venetian boatman's daughter who worked at the casino as a croupier until she was sold by her husband as a vivandière, or army prostitute. The combination of history with fantasy aligns The Passion with ‘historiographic metafiction’, the type of novel characterised by intense self-reflexivity and a relish in storytelling which Linda Hutcheon considers to be the best expression of the contradictory nature of the postmodernist ethos.

Keywords: Jeanette Winterson; women writers; women authors; Passion; New Testament; historiographic metafiction; self-reflexivity; lesbian writers

Chapter.  23485 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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