Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson



One day the Dog Woman finds a baby boy by the river Thames. She takes him with her and cares for him as if he was her child. She names him Jordan and she knows he will leave one day. If you name a boy by a river, he’ll flow away like water. Jordan meets Tradescant, gardener to the king and eventually sails away, discovering new lands and coming back with fruits people have never seen. He keeps looking for a woman, who may not exist and he desperately wants to be a hero.

While researching the meaning of the title, I discovered that it means determining the gender of a cherry tree after grafting. It’s what Jordan does in the book and thinks about how he would like some of Tradescant grafted on him, so Jordan could be a hero like him. I saw grafting as a way of determining one’s identity after a person was searching for it. Jordan leaves England to become someone else, someone better. In the end he becomes a hero, but in another period, in another existence.

At the beginning of the book, the author tells us that “The Hopi, an Indian tribe, have a language as sophisticated as ours, but no tenses for past, present and future. The division does not exist. What does it say about time?” It’s what I liked about this book the most, the possibility (or the certainty?) of all times existing at the same time. So, a person can step out from one present into another. “Official time” is linear, governed by the seasons and the calendar, but our inner time is something else, where the boundaries of here and now aren’t so strict. In this novel both seem to merge.

Time is not the only theme in this book. The Dog Woman is a loving mother and at the same time a politically active royalist. There’s the story of Twelve Dancing Princesses with an interesting twist. It’s the story about women taking their destiny into their own hands, no matter what society expect of them. There are many dualities which seem to merge, like time does.

Before I started reading this book, I knew next to nothing about it. Only that it had magical elements and an interesting outlook on time. It was enough to hook me, particularly the element of time. The story is set in two periods in time, 1649 and 1990, most of it in 1649. Unfortunately, I found the 1990 chapter sort of too separate. I wish there was more of the jumping back and forth in time and sliding from one period into the other. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this book and I’m interested to read more by Jeanette Winterson.


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Nekega dne Pasja ženska ob reki najde zapuščenega dojenčka. Dečka odnese domov in skrbi zanj, kot da bi bil njen. Da mu ime Jordan in se takoj zave, da bo nekoč odšel. Če poimenuješ otroka po reki ti mora biti jasno, da bo odšel kot voda, ki odteče. Jordan spozna Tradescanta, kraljevega vrtnarja, ki ga s časom vzame s seboj na potovanje, kjer odkriva nove svetove in se domov vrača s sadjem, ki ga ljudje do takrat še niso videli. Nenehno išče žensko, ki morda obstaja, morda pa ne, in hrepeni po tem, da bi bil junak.

Med brskanjem po internetu, da bi ugotovila kaj pomeni naslov knjige, sem izvedela, da se nanaša na ugotavljanje spola drevesa po cepljenju. Ko Jordan ko dela pri kraljevem vrtnarju, cepi češnjo, ob tem pa razmišlja, da bi rad videl, da bi se del Tradescanta cepil nanj, da bi bil tudi Jordan junak kot je on. Cepljenje sem videla kot določanje itentitete posameznika, potem ko je nekaj časa potoval, da bi jo našel. Jordan zapusti Anglijo, da bi postal nekdo drug, nekdo boljši. Na koncu res postane junak, vendar v drugem času.

Na začetku knjige nam avtorica pove, da ima pleme Hopijev jezik, ki je enako zapleten kot naš, vendar ne pozna časov. Delitev na preteklost, sedanjost in prihodnost ne ostaja. Ravno to je bilo tisto, kar mi je bilo v tej knjigi najbolj všeč: možnost (ali morda gotovost), da vsi časi obstajajo hkrati. Oseba lahko iz ene sedanjosti stopi v drugo. “Uradni čas” je linearen, obvladujejo ga letni časi in koledar, naš notranji čas pa je nekaj popolnoma drugega, kjer meje niso tako strogo določene. V tem romanu se zdi, da se oboje zlije skupaj.

Čas pa ni edina tema te knjige. Pasja ženska je ljubeča mati in hkrati politično aktivna privrženka kralja. V Jordanova potovanja je vključena zgodba o dvanajstih plešočih princesah, ki pa ima zanimiv, drugačen konec. Gre za zgodbo o ženskah, ki vzamejo usodo v svoje roke, ne glede na o kaj od njih pričakuje družba. V zgodbi je veliko dvojnosti, ki se zlijejo podobno kot čas.

Preden sem začela brati to knjigo, nisem o njej vedela skoraj ničesar. Samo to, da ima magične elemente in zanimiv pogled na čas. To je bilo dovolj, da me je zanimala, posebej zanimiv pogled na čas. Zgodba se dogaja v dveh časovnih obdobjih, 1649 in 1990. Na žalost se mi je zdelo poglavje, ki obravnava 1990 nekako preveč ločeno. Raje bi videla, da bi bilo več skakanja med obema obdobjema in več prelivanja iz enega časa v drugega. Ne glede na to, mi je bila knjiga všeč. Z veseljem se bom lotila še kakega dela Jeanette Winterson.

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