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Transgressing Boundaries in Jeanette Winterson’s Fiction

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Sonia Front

The subsequent chapters of the book deal with selected questions from Jeanette Winterson’s fiction, such as gender issues, love and eroticism, language and time, constituting areas within which Winterson’s characters seek their identity. As they contest and repudiate clichés, stereotypes and patterns, their journey of self-discovery is accomplished through transgression. The book analyzes how the subversion of phallogocentric narrative and scenarios entails the reenvisaging of relations between the genders and reconceptualization of female desire. The author attempts to determine the consequences of Winterson’s manipulations with gender, sexuality and time, and her disruption of the binary system.

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III. 'Take off your clothes. Take off your body.' — Erotic Configurations and the World of Collapsed Binaries 101

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Chapter III: 'Take off your clothes. Take off your body.' — Erotic Configurations and the World of Collapsed Binaries You play, you win. You play, you lose. You play. /Jeanette Winterson: The Passion) With a view to freeing her characters of the yokes of gender, Winterson decon- structs their gender and makes them contravene boundaries. Frustrating the choice between the dichotomies, Winterson conjoins them instead, which takes an the shape of androgyny and bisexuality. On the other hand, she dismisses difference in favour of sameness, which is articulated in lesbianism and distinctly lesbian discourse of desire. Some of the characters function in erotic triangles, however, this offers a temporary solution, ultimately superseded by either a lesbian or het- erosexual trajectory. Still, the triangles pose an attempt at exploding the binaries. 1. Androgyny Winterson's androgynous characters encompass both people and cities. One of the cities is Venice in The Passion enacted as a feminine uncanny city liberated from any rules of fixity. The borders of binary oppositions are incessantly infringed upon here so as to create an abject mixture,1 echoing Thomas Mann's Death in Venice and Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. Dissolution of boundaries is also char- acteristic of the floating city in Winterson's Sexing the Cherry, in which the buildings have no floors (displaying similarity to the city of Armilla in Calvino's Invisible Cities) as gravity has deserted the place. The city of Venice demonstrates its two faces. The first one is the visible mercurial maze of canals, demarcated by the...

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