Quando alla fine sono riuscita a vedere online la miniserie della BBC ho dovuto ridimensionare la Mrs Winterson che avevo immaginato. Ecco il risultato.
Probabilmente il rogo dei libri mi aveva portata fuori strada…
In una casa dove leggere narrativa era proibito (ad eccezione della Bibbia, naturalmente) Jeanette ha intrapreso la lettura come forma di ribellione e la scrittura come via di fuga. Entrambe hanno esercitato una potente (e direi salvifica) azione taumaturgica che le ha permesso di superare quell’esperienza.
La cosa che mi ha colpita di più in questo percorso di salvezza è stata la scelta, di fronte alla vastità del reparto di letteratura inglese della biblioteca di Accrington, di procedere in ordine alfabetico: abbiamo qualcosa in comune! Trovo buffo essere arrivata a leggere i libri della Winterson perché sto procedendo con la lettura della narrativa inglese contemporanea in ordine alfabetico inverso. Non è buffo?
Il tutto è accompagnato da scorci di vita operaia del Nord dell’Inghilterra negli anni ’60 e ’70: il gabinetto esterno, i sottoascella, i mattoni Nori, le vacanze a Blackpool, il tè nei servizi delle bambole ai funerali … e qualche riflessione sulla Thatcher e la politica del There Is No Alternative.
C’è poi tutta l’appassionante storia della ricerca e del ritrovamento della madre biologica, altro percorso impervio che termina in modo inaspettato. A quanto pare nulla è semplice nella vita di Jeanette Winterson.
SCOPRIAMO ACCRINGTON: i luoghi della serie Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
I MATTONI DELLA STRADA GIALLA DI JEANETTE WINTERSON:
(The bricks in Jeanette Winterson's yellow road)
Jeanette Winterson’s autobiography is really fascinating: after romanticizing the main events in her life in Orangs Are Not the Only Fruit she faced her ghosts again: a tough adolescence and a sentimentally troubled adulthood. It’s not a narrative flux (she’s the first to admit: “I never could write a story with a beginning, a middle and an end in the usual way becaue it felt untrue to me. That is why I write as I do. It isn’t a method; it’s me”), but it’s a series of fragments. Yet, if you put them together, they build a riveting mosaic. I read it non-stop on a single day: it was a mild Friday and my husband and I decided early to go to the lake to enjoy ourselves. As soon as we arrived we found a beautiful position under the trees (I hate sunbathing), we laid down our beach towels, and then I opened my book… and I didn’t stop reading until I reached the last page: it was evening by then. Do I need to say anything else?
From the fragments of her life a terrific portrait of her adoptive mother, Mrs Winterson, comes out… some sort of Angel of Vengeance in the name of a religion whose interpretation was very personal. The more I was reading about the different punishments little Jeanette was subjected to, the more I was conjuring up Mrs Winterson like the mother figure in the film Carrie (1976 – superbly played by Piper Laurie). Here’s an example… (see video)
When I finally managed to watch the BBC’s mini-series, I had to scale her down. The Mrs Winterson I had imagined was replaced by Geraldine McEwan’s. Here’s the result.
It was probably the book pyre that got me wrong.
In a place where reading fiction was forbidden (except for the Bible, of course) Jeanette took up reading as a form of rebellion and writing as a way of escape. They both had a powerful thaumaturgic (salvific?) effect that allowed her to get through the experience.
What struck me the most was her choice in front of the section “Literature in prose A-Z” at Accrington Library: proceeding alfabetically… WE HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON! I find it’s quite amusing that I’ve come to reading Winterson’s books right because I’m reading contemporary English literature in reversed alphabetical order, isn’t it?
Let’s get back to the book: everything is intertwined with glimpses of working life in the North of England during the 60’s and 70’s: outside loos, sweat pads sewn into the armpits, Nori bricks, holidays in Blackpool, tea served in a doll’s house set at funerals… and some reflections on Mrs thatcher and her TINA politics (There Is No Alterantive).
And then there’s the absorbing story of Jeanette Winterson’s search for her natural mother, another hard experience with an unexpected turn of events. Apparently, nothing is simple in Jeanette Winterson’s life.