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Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery

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In these ten intertwined essays, one of our most provocative young novelists proves that she is just as stylish and outrageous an art critic. For when Jeanette Winterson looks at works as diverse as the Mona Lisa and Virginia Woolf's The Waves, she frees them from layers of preconception and restores their power to exalt and unnerve, shock and transform us. "Art Objects is In these ten intertwined essays, one of our most provocative young novelists proves that she is just as stylish and outrageous an art critic. For when Jeanette Winterson looks at works as diverse as the Mona Lisa and Virginia Woolf's The Waves, she frees them from layers of preconception and restores their power to exalt and unnerve, shock and transform us. "Art Objects is a book to be admired for its effort to speak exorbitantly, urgently and sometimes beautifully about art and about our individual and collective need for serious art."--Los Angeles Times


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In these ten intertwined essays, one of our most provocative young novelists proves that she is just as stylish and outrageous an art critic. For when Jeanette Winterson looks at works as diverse as the Mona Lisa and Virginia Woolf's The Waves, she frees them from layers of preconception and restores their power to exalt and unnerve, shock and transform us. "Art Objects is In these ten intertwined essays, one of our most provocative young novelists proves that she is just as stylish and outrageous an art critic. For when Jeanette Winterson looks at works as diverse as the Mona Lisa and Virginia Woolf's The Waves, she frees them from layers of preconception and restores their power to exalt and unnerve, shock and transform us. "Art Objects is a book to be admired for its effort to speak exorbitantly, urgently and sometimes beautifully about art and about our individual and collective need for serious art."--Los Angeles Times

30 review for Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    A collection of aesthetic and critical essays, Art Objects is an engaging look at the role of art and the artist in modern life. Across ten essays Jeanette Winterson alternates between sketching a theory of art and offering commentary on individual works of high art, namely the experimental writings of Gertrude Stein and Virginia Woolf. The collection features many stunning lines, and the author’s criticism is interesting; the aesthetic essays are less successful and often read as a bit reaction A collection of aesthetic and critical essays, Art Objects is an engaging look at the role of art and the artist in modern life. Across ten essays Jeanette Winterson alternates between sketching a theory of art and offering commentary on individual works of high art, namely the experimental writings of Gertrude Stein and Virginia Woolf. The collection features many stunning lines, and the author’s criticism is interesting; the aesthetic essays are less successful and often read as a bit reactionary, rooted as they are in Eliot’s impersonal poetics. Many of the ideas about art that Winterson offers in these essays are out of style for good reason, and it feels bizarre that she fashions herself as subversive for holding them, just because they’re unpopular. In spite of that, the title essay and a few others are strong and make the collection worth checking out, if not reading in full.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

    There used to be something called The Canon This was regularly used to blast iconoclasts who said terrible things at tea parties, such as ‘Surely Katherine Mansfield is as fine writer as Proust?’ The Canon allowed no debate; it guarded the entry and exit points to the Hall of Fame and stood firmly behind t(T)he t(T)imes. When not routing offenders in petticoats it fired warning shots over the heads of the uneducated. The Canon was admirably free from modern Existentialist Doubt. It knew who belonged There used to be something called The Canon This was regularly used to blast iconoclasts who said terrible things at tea parties, such as ‘Surely Katherine Mansfield is as fine writer as Proust?’ The Canon allowed no debate; it guarded the entry and exit points to the Hall of Fame and stood firmly behind t(T)he t(T)imes. When not routing offenders in petticoats it fired warning shots over the heads of the uneducated. The Canon was admirably free from modern Existentialist Doubt. It knew who belonged and who didn’t belong. No Question. ‘Excuse me?’ ‘Who said that?’ It was Virginia Woolf Addressing The Canon. --Jeanette Winterson A few (more) Theses on The Canon and anti-Canonites (of 95, still unnumbered and perhaps innumerable) ; nothing to see here ;; move along ;;; move along Sure, Mansfield is as fine as Proust. If you’re interested in The Short Story, you kind of have to read Mansfield. I mean, she is Required Reading. If anyone wants to talk about Modernism, High Modernism, Twentieth Century Fiction, and Things Of This Nature, and they do not drop the name ‘Woolf’ within the first five name drops, you can safely ignore everything else that person might say. Whether you prefer Woolf or Joyce matters not a wit more than whether you prefer Haydn or Mozart. And if you don’t give a wit about Literary Modernism, or Classical Music, then why would you give a wit about Joyce or Woolf or Haydn or Mozart? If one of your novels gets picked up by a network or moviehouse and gets made into a film or Television Mini=Series, you really shouldn’t be posing as an anti-Canonite. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098032/?... There are two reasons to reject The Canon :: 1) No one can find anywhere anything that even begins to look like a Definitive List subsisting in the Real World (no matter that Bloom’s pub’er insisted he write one up) ; ie, I can’t find it, therefore it don’t exist. OR 2) It does exist as a definitive list of 100 Books and it excludes so many that ought to be on there that it can’t function as its concept demands it function ; ie, we reject The Canon because it’s not Complete and Definitive. Like everything else that is important, no one can come up with an adequate Definition. Most rants by anti=Canonites are Pure Strawmanism. Ie, ‘regularly used to blast iconoclasts’. Is Winterson implying that she is herself an ‘iconoclast’? What should be noted is how the Icon itself is first constructed by the Iconoclast him/herself. This is called ‘Tilting...’. “The Canon allowed no debate”. The Canon moves and has its being within debate. How it’s constituted, kind of thing. You can conjure up a figment of White Men playing Doormen if you like ; but that’s your fantasy. I mean, typically, The Most Powerful Person in the Room is not the one holding the door for you ;; rather it is those for whom the Doorman does his doormanning. The folks that guard entry and exits are publishers. And frankly, some of the biggest publishers in the world, ie, Penguin, are digging up any and every old book in the world and pushing it within Classics Covers. This is a good thing. True enough that it’s a hell of a lot easier to get a dissertation on Shakespeare approved than it is to get one on Dorothy Richardson approved ;; nevertheless, Richardson is getting a critical=edition treatment by Oxford in the coming years. This is the kind of work Gatekeepers do. “Warning shots over the uneducated” ;; this is a potshot about how people will read what they like and the market is perfectly happy to supply it? [or maybe we should be primping these uneducated who spend their time playing Video Games and then how the job of the Critic and the Gatekeeper is to lionize the importance of playing Video Games and how they are just as Valid as the plays of Shakespeare?] Who is it constructing these ‘uneducated’ and why aren’t you out voting for Sanders so the USofA can catch up with the rest of the Developed World and provide things like Education and Health Care to ALL of our citizens? Early 20th century Canon projects were merely Educational projects. The Harvard Five=Foot Bookshelf. Great Books of the Western World. But Liberal Education is getting beaten up on all sides these days. Why do I feel so old=fashion for standing behind a Liberal Arts Education? What this world needs is more MBA’s! What the hell is “Existentialist Doubt” and what does it have to do with The Canon? All that Existentialist Doubt bs is firmly in, if not The Canon, then within the reading habits of many millions of persons. Even coffee shops get called “Angst”. “It knew who belonged and who didn’t belong.” Bullshit. Yeah, Virginia Woolf, along with a small handful (Joyce, Proust) of others is Modernism. Seriously, posing as an anti-Canonite and appealing to The Names of Woolf and Mansfield?!!! “There used to be” ; no, there inevitably will always be. It’s the kind of thing that happens with Culture. Take this concept of No Canon to, say for example, a postcolonial country and you’ll see the Imperialistic nature of the anti-Canonite who wants to remind Others that they don’t have a Literature which constitutes their culture, tell them that what’s really important is that they read the books they like, which The Market will be more than happy to supply. The anti-Canonite should be unveiled as standing in opposition to something like The Murty Classical Library of India. And the Library of Arabic Literature. Because they are both Canon Projects. See, just like the Loeb, they are scheduled to publish everything. What the pro=Canon folks are doing, whether Murty or Penguin or Oxford or etc, is publishing everything. It’s not polite to say ; but what Winterson says up there I find simply stupid. I mean best of luck to her and her books and her readers and suchnot, but this little piece of stuff.... I mean, does she stand behind it? Fine if you don’t give a fig about The Canon. But why should you be esteemed for posing as an anti-Canonite when everything you have to say seems to rise very little beyond an adolescent anti=Authoritarianism?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Paterson

    I wish that I could spend just a single afternoon with Jeanette Winterson. This book was transformative. If you have an interest in literature as an evolving art form, if you are interested in how to be a reader or what it means to be an artist, or if you're just a person searching for deeper meaning in a shallow world, you need to read this book. While I was resistant to some of the philosophical principles presented here this book provided lots to think about and launched a reevaluation of my I wish that I could spend just a single afternoon with Jeanette Winterson. This book was transformative. If you have an interest in literature as an evolving art form, if you are interested in how to be a reader or what it means to be an artist, or if you're just a person searching for deeper meaning in a shallow world, you need to read this book. While I was resistant to some of the philosophical principles presented here this book provided lots to think about and launched a reevaluation of my own consumption of media and art.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Vartika

    'Wordsmith' is a title I use very sparingly, but one that I can never spare in a discussion about Jeanette Winterson's writing — any of it. While she is a marvellous novelist; her works wrought straight from liquid imagination; her adroitness extends far beyond the realms of fiction. Art Objects is not just a collection of potent observations on art and wordsmithery, but also a highly potent example of the same. In these essays on ecstasy and effrontery, Winterson excavates the true value of a 'Wordsmith' is a title I use very sparingly, but one that I can never spare in a discussion about Jeanette Winterson's writing — any of it. While she is a marvellous novelist; her works wrought straight from liquid imagination; her adroitness extends far beyond the realms of fiction. Art Objects is not just a collection of potent observations on art and wordsmithery, but also a highly potent example of the same. In these essays on ecstasy and effrontery, Winterson excavates the true value of art as it is, a value that lies buried under the burgeoning mass of a consumer civilisation. For her, art is experimentation and originality, it is new ways of seeing, and that which treats these as matters of choice is neither persistent (and prescient) nor art. Art Objects harks back (and forth) to a philosophy of appreciation that is full of rapture on both the reader and the writer's part, that has respect for language, form and novelty, but not necessarily for rules, and definitely not for utilitarianism. I particularly enjoyed "Imagination and Reality," as well as the titular essay on visual art. The essay on Virginia Woolf's The Waves is also a uniquely transformative read for what it says and teaches about the rhythms of each work of writing and our own various approaches to reading them in a world that has been enslaved by the clock. In general, Art Objects is a hypnotic volume, and true to the author's own words, it isn't always so for what she says but for how she says it. I would recommend this highly to anyone interested in art, writing, and creating some of our own, or for someone looking for that rare piece of writing that blends theory and praxis into something ebullient and delicious.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ally Armistead

    Not only can she write beautiful novels and short stories, but Jeanette Winterson can hold her own as a solid philosopher, art critic, and essayist. "Art Objects" is just that--a meditation on art and the men and women who create and view it. Whether discussing the Mona Lisa or Gertude Stein's poetry or Virginia Woolf's The Waves, Winterson explores the complexities of learning to "sit" with art, allowing what at first seems perplexing and foreign to seep in, confuse us, and open us to enlighten Not only can she write beautiful novels and short stories, but Jeanette Winterson can hold her own as a solid philosopher, art critic, and essayist. "Art Objects" is just that--a meditation on art and the men and women who create and view it. Whether discussing the Mona Lisa or Gertude Stein's poetry or Virginia Woolf's The Waves, Winterson explores the complexities of learning to "sit" with art, allowing what at first seems perplexing and foreign to seep in, confuse us, and open us to enlightenment. While Winterson explores a number of topics--art as action, art as communal--the subject that moves me most as a reader is the idea of remaining open as a viewer--however uncomfortable--to the art itself. Of her many insightful observations about viewers and art, the ones she captures in the first chapter "Art Objects" are by far the most powerful about WHY, as viewers, we may may find ourselves struggling, wriggling, worming our way out of the experience of SEEING. She suggests that we, as a society, are not trained to "see"--we expect immediate gratification, animation, distraction, entertainment. We grow anxious, she says, because we are uncomfortable with something unresolved in ourselves. Similarly, she suggests that art--good art--strikes a chord in each of us, rattling our understanding of reality and our sense of "I": "True art, when it happens to us, challenges the 'I' that we are." Winterson also explores what it means (what it really means) when we say "I like" that book, painting, film, etc.," observing that it is not essential to "like a thing" in order to recognize its worth. The trick, the goal for humanity then (she argues), is for viewers to reach a point of self-awareness and sophistication that transcends the mere matter of "liking" or "not liking." Overall, this collection of essays is absolutely worth reading, particularly for artists, but also for the everyday human being who has a fondness for film, painting, and literature and wishes to "go deeper."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nadia

    I read this book again as an escape at lunchtime while I was doing a summer language course. When I read it this time, I paid special attention to what she had to say about art and artists. Art, in her opinion is as essentail as eating and breathing. Infact, she might say why do the first two, if you don't have the third. As is well publicized by now, JW attempted to commit suicide just a few years ago. She pulled her heavy load out of the black whole she was in to go on to give the world more g I read this book again as an escape at lunchtime while I was doing a summer language course. When I read it this time, I paid special attention to what she had to say about art and artists. Art, in her opinion is as essentail as eating and breathing. Infact, she might say why do the first two, if you don't have the third. As is well publicized by now, JW attempted to commit suicide just a few years ago. She pulled her heavy load out of the black whole she was in to go on to give the world more great works and even a more involved public activists role in the art community. I have seen numerous interviews where she speaks about the connection between her first known work, "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" and her recent book, "Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?". She continues to live her beliefs. She believes that art is hard work, she knows that it takes time to conceive or produce a great work of art, she is a collector because she is of the belief that books and paintings are like close friends, and she wants to support the people of the art community when she can afford it. Those with millions only do so when it's trendy. This is all contained within Art Objects. It is a thought-provoking work, best read slowly, invited in, respected as you would a friend, and in the dialogue, the reader might find that something inside begins to change.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    After dog-earing far too many pages, I realized I'm just going to have to buy myself a copy and reread this, on occasion, for the rest of my life. The chapter 'Reality and Imagination' is my favourite, I want to make photocopies and send it to people! :) After dog-earing far too many pages, I realized I'm just going to have to buy myself a copy and reread this, on occasion, for the rest of my life. The chapter 'Reality and Imagination' is my favourite, I want to make photocopies and send it to people! :)

  8. 5 out of 5

    sarah ☆彡

    sharp, brilliant, electric, prismatic. Winterson donned her miner’s helmet and dove into the back alleys of my heart. when she reemerged it was with hands brim with an artist’s half-forgotten fears, frustrations, bright hopes and tenuous longings, now glittering in the hard light and handed back to me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carissa

    This book made me so angry. I hated reading it, but I forced myself to finish it. I originally picked it up because I loved the bits of it read in class. As I started it, I loved each essay and how it made me reevaluate art. However, a few essays in, I realized they were all the same. Winterson is just a bitter old lady. Every essay is a rant about how certain things are done, how nothing is any good anymore, how people don't appreciate art. Additionally, the end of an essay has nothing to do wi This book made me so angry. I hated reading it, but I forced myself to finish it. I originally picked it up because I loved the bits of it read in class. As I started it, I loved each essay and how it made me reevaluate art. However, a few essays in, I realized they were all the same. Winterson is just a bitter old lady. Every essay is a rant about how certain things are done, how nothing is any good anymore, how people don't appreciate art. Additionally, the end of an essay has nothing to do with the beginning. She goes off tangent to the point that I cannot even figure out what she's arguing. Overall, what I got from the book is that if I don't like a piece of art, it's because I don't understand it, or because I not comfortable with how it makes me feel. She is an elitist and considers herself one of the greats. The only reason I gave it two stars is because I like the way she can form a sentence. Her writing, when read in snippets, is beautiful. And if I had stuck with only reading a few essays, I would have rated her much higher. I did enjoy what she had to say about art for a short period of time. I'm glad I finally finished the book, but I would not read it again. I'll go reward myself with reading a book I know I love already.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    These ten essays on art, literature, and writing are sharp, insightful, and surprising, often sparking fresh thoughts and exemplifying in their originality the author’s own observations about art. This short book was enthusiastically recommended to me by a fellow student in a writing course awhile back, and I wish we were still in touch so I could just as enthusiastically thank him for the tip.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Shatterlings

    This is a series of essays about art and artists with a lot about Virginia Woolf. Some of them are most interesting than others but all are well written. It does seem like Jeanette hates tv and CD-ROMs, which is slightly odd as surely it was the tv adaptation of Oranges that made her a well known author? The one about book collecting was the most enjoyable and perhaps the most personal. I wonder if twenty years on we could do with an update to this

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kirralee

    Ecstasy and Effrontery weren't exaggerations: I can't say i especially enjoyed reading this book, but it's resonated with me more strongly than other books i enjoyed reading much more. Winterson is totally passionate and unashamedly subjective about her approach to Art, she argues for her version of it through her personal favourites, through poetic use of language, through inflammatory opinions. i found that quite offputting until chatting to my housemate about her work: she said she loved it fo Ecstasy and Effrontery weren't exaggerations: I can't say i especially enjoyed reading this book, but it's resonated with me more strongly than other books i enjoyed reading much more. Winterson is totally passionate and unashamedly subjective about her approach to Art, she argues for her version of it through her personal favourites, through poetic use of language, through inflammatory opinions. i found that quite offputting until chatting to my housemate about her work: she said she loved it for exactly those reasons, for that passion and clarity of opinion, and especially as a woman for taking space without asking for permission. Even within the form of an essay she is transgressing by not taking an objective stance in her writing. What i really enjoyed about Art Objects was feeling invigorated to look again at where Art and life intersect, and an appreciation for the form of literature, and how beautiful that language can be because it is elevated beyond the language of everyday use. I'd recommend provoking yourself by reading it

  13. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    This book, as others have said, is not necessarily revolutionary, but it made me reexamine everything I have have ever learned or taught myself about art. It changed me. This is going to sound really cheesy, but it's not - I mean it in the deepest sense...there is this one passage in the book that I think perfectly articulates what it is to really feel something to core, and one of those things that you feel is what love really is. It is in her passage about Complex Emotion in "The Semiotics of Se This book, as others have said, is not necessarily revolutionary, but it made me reexamine everything I have have ever learned or taught myself about art. It changed me. This is going to sound really cheesy, but it's not - I mean it in the deepest sense...there is this one passage in the book that I think perfectly articulates what it is to really feel something to core, and one of those things that you feel is what love really is. It is in her passage about Complex Emotion in "The Semiotics of Sex" that really taught me something about life outside of writing. It's pages 112-114 in the paperback version. No matter what you're seeking, I think ALL writers should read Art Objects, whether you write poetry or prose, or if you just enjoy great literature. This is a seriously overlooked book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Morgan

    I wrote this review in about ten minutes pretty much stream-of-consciousness, so apologies in advance. ************ I can't review Winterson without detailing my relationship to her books, so I really have to start at the beginning here to explain my reaction and thoughts about Art Objects. Like most folks, I was introduced to Winterson via Oranges are Not the Only Fruit. It was my sophomore year of hs. That this book made it my way was nearly miraculous: I went to a tiny rural hs in the middle of I wrote this review in about ten minutes pretty much stream-of-consciousness, so apologies in advance. ************ I can't review Winterson without detailing my relationship to her books, so I really have to start at the beginning here to explain my reaction and thoughts about Art Objects. Like most folks, I was introduced to Winterson via Oranges are Not the Only Fruit. It was my sophomore year of hs. That this book made it my way was nearly miraculous: I went to a tiny rural hs in the middle of Maine in the mid-1990s. It was a weird time to be public school educated in rural Maine: all the kid's parents were conservative, but we had a lot of teachers who were back-to-the-landers or hippies of one sort or another, and I wound up with a SUPER lefty education for the time and place. All my English classes were structured around the theme "society +" so I took Society and Racism, Society and Gender, Society and Technology, etc. My biology teacher applied for a grant to teach a Women's Studies course (!!!) and as the hs's resident skater riot grrl feminist, I obviously signed up. I chose Oranges for a book report for that class; I remember also reading Carol Gilligan. Not typical for a 15 yo in rural Maine's public schools, I am sure. When I was 21 and struggling to come out and very ill-at-ease with my life, I read Winterson's Written on the Body in a Sexuality and Lit course. I fell in love immediately, not least because that text broke such new ground around narrative voice and perspective; finally a novel about erotic love and desire that had nothing to do with heterosexuality or even plot, lol. I still make everyone read this book; the young romantic in me is always searching for something that will move me as much. Over the years I have read most of what Winterson has written, fiction and essays and so on. I came to Art Objects with the sense that I would be impressed-- she's clearly a frickin' genius and I'm never not challenged by her words. I was also hoping to feel a little redeemed. I read Frankisstein last fall, her most recent novel, and felt a bit hammered by it. Frankisstein, I think, is a great novel if you're not someone who thinks about sex and gender and technology very much. It has so much to say on these topics. Because I've spent the better part of my life and indeed all of my adult life thinking about them, it felt heavy-handed, a bit obvious, and pedantic. Winterson's brain is so immense, she just cannot help but show off and the philosophy of the text excited me. With its obvious parallels to Frankenstein and it's unmentioned by equally obvious parallels to Orlando (Winterson's love for Woolf is well known and the subject of several essays in Art Objects), I enjoyed the kind of historical time-warp she employed, but I think she's handled it better in her other novels set in the actual past. In fact, in Art Objects, she discusses how she uses the past in her novels precisely to distance her readers from expectations about what should happen; at one point, she argues that we cannot see the present because we are too close to it, etc. etc. It's funny to me then that Frankisstein does the reverse-- it brings the past into the present and tries to hypermodernize it, outlining the features of the present and the ethics of biotech that we are dealing with without being able to even see it in its fullest range. Maybe this is why the characters in Frankisstein however did not move me-- in fact I pretty much loathed them, despite their queerness. I felt like I was the target audience for this novel, but I saw very little of myself in any of them, and every single one of them seemed like a warning. The irony, then, is that the essays in Art Objects really make a case for refusing the easy identifications that readers seek when they approach a novel. I shouldn't identify with the characters in Frankisstein-- because Winterson has never been a writer who cares if you see yourself in the pages. That kind of identity politic is one she dismisses as belonging to Lesser Art. Art Objects is a call to arms in a way about how we approach literature, and how difficult it should be, not because an author or artist is sloppy but because truly great art and literature is so antagonizingly precise that we must consider every word and stroke to get to meaning. In other words, we should identify with the feeling or sense experience, but not necessarily the particular details of plot or character. This seems to skirt dangerously close to universalism and if we know anything in 2020, we should know that arguments about universalism are BAD. And yet... I was completely compelled by her argument throughout, insofar that it made me really truly want to *dig* into art and literature that refuses-- or objects-- to facile gleanings of meaning. I kept underlining passages that made me want to really become a better writer and artist, that made me want to cut cut cut to the bone of my story in my art. The essays eschew memoir and autobiography for the sake of memoir and autobiography, which is a hard pill to swallow in an age where so much good writing is happening in the genres of memoir and autobiography. But I appreciated so much the call to something more. It struck me that the things I loved so much about Forna's Happiness are the things Winterson celebrates in Art Objects-- slowness, exactness, lack of plot, a call to humanity. Anyway, this is less of a review than an autobiography so I probably need to re-read the essays :P

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karith Amel

    I need to own this book. And read it often. Its exploration of art, what it is and what it does, is inspiring and challenging. It re-awakens my longing to be a person who lives a life of wakefulness and meaning -- a person who sacrifices much to attain the pearl of great price, and great beauty. This is an excellent text. And my appreciation is certainly not diminished by the fact that its author finds much of the same life and power in Virginia Woolf's texts as I do. I need to own this book. And read it often. Its exploration of art, what it is and what it does, is inspiring and challenging. It re-awakens my longing to be a person who lives a life of wakefulness and meaning -- a person who sacrifices much to attain the pearl of great price, and great beauty. This is an excellent text. And my appreciation is certainly not diminished by the fact that its author finds much of the same life and power in Virginia Woolf's texts as I do.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kati Stevens

    She is self-assured as fuck, so most of what she writes is convincing.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    I read this half my lifetime ago when she first published it. Parts still fly past me, but her brilliance still sticks. Art takes time -- so it's okay to take your time with art. I read this half my lifetime ago when she first published it. Parts still fly past me, but her brilliance still sticks. Art takes time -- so it's okay to take your time with art.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jasna

    "And what are we but our fathers’ sons and daughters? We are the Victorian legacy. Our materialism, our lack of spirituality, our grossness, our mockery of art, our utilitarian attitude to education, even the dull grey suits wrapped around the dull grey lives of our eminent City men, are Victorian hand-me-downs. Many of our ideas of history and society go back no further than Victorian England. We live in a money culture because they did. Control by plutocracy is a nineteenth-century phenomenon "And what are we but our fathers’ sons and daughters? We are the Victorian legacy. Our materialism, our lack of spirituality, our grossness, our mockery of art, our utilitarian attitude to education, even the dull grey suits wrapped around the dull grey lives of our eminent City men, are Victorian hand-me-downs. Many of our ideas of history and society go back no further than Victorian England. We live in a money culture because they did. Control by plutocracy is a nineteenth-century phenomenon that has been sold to us as a blueprint for reality. But what is real about the values of a money culture? Money culture recognizes no currency but its own. Whatever is not money, whatever is not making money, is useless to it. The entire efforts of our government as directed through our society are efforts towards making more and more money. This favors the survival of the dullest. This favors those who prefer to live in a notional reality where goods are worth more than time and where things are more important than ideas. For the artist, any artist, poet, painter, musician, time in plenty and an abundance of ideas are the necessary basics of creativity. By dreaming and idleness and then by intense self-discipline does the artist live. The artist cannot perform between 9 and 6, five days a week, or if she sometimes does, she cannot guarantee to do so. Money culture hates that. It must know what it is getting, when it is getting it, and how much it will cost."

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anyssa

    In my opinion, required reading for any creative. She's written everything I wish I'd written. I frequently reference this book, and re-read her insightful essays. This book has it all. It's one of my favourite books of all time. In my opinion, required reading for any creative. She's written everything I wish I'd written. I frequently reference this book, and re-read her insightful essays. This book has it all. It's one of my favourite books of all time.

  20. 5 out of 5

    l

    Her interests are just not mine tbh. And we just don’t see eye to eye on art... this became really apparent when I read “the semiotics of sex” which I found incredibly irritating tbh.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    she did that

  22. 5 out of 5

    Zoë Marriott

    A very definite, decided and unique take on art and the place of art (including writing) in society.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    A provocative, inspiring, and passionate collection of essays on the power and purpose of art and literature. Winterson begins by writing about falling in love with a painting and then with painting in general--extending a trip to Amsterdam to spend full days at the art museum and nights reading about painting, figuring out how to enter the artwork. She continues with essays that explore the transformative power of good writing, about Gertrude Stein's The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and her A provocative, inspiring, and passionate collection of essays on the power and purpose of art and literature. Winterson begins by writing about falling in love with a painting and then with painting in general--extending a trip to Amsterdam to spend full days at the art museum and nights reading about painting, figuring out how to enter the artwork. She continues with essays that explore the transformative power of good writing, about Gertrude Stein's The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and her critical reception, about Virginia Woolf's Orlando (one of my all time favorite books) and The Waves, about book-collecting, imagination and reality, art and life. Throughout each essay, she argues passionately for the importance of art to the world, which is a message I find I need these days, in the face of a world that seems to care less and less for good, heartfelt, beautiful art. This is a collection to return to.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Winterson articulates why art is essential and relevant in such a way that puts passion over pretension. It objects to the safe and the known. It shows us another way. It is essential to the forward movement of humanity. [Note to pretentious dudes holding forth on Art in San Francisco sushi joints: Please read this book before you go around having philosophical discussions about Art in public places, so that by understanding many before you have written on these subjects more thoughtfully and mo Winterson articulates why art is essential and relevant in such a way that puts passion over pretension. It objects to the safe and the known. It shows us another way. It is essential to the forward movement of humanity. [Note to pretentious dudes holding forth on Art in San Francisco sushi joints: Please read this book before you go around having philosophical discussions about Art in public places, so that by understanding many before you have written on these subjects more thoughtfully and more eloquently, you might gain a sense of humility, thus avoiding irritated glances from overhearing passersby such as myself.]

  25. 4 out of 5

    Juliet

    Wonderfully enjoyable read. Makes you think and think differently as well. The writing demands slowness of pace and deep attention but it repays you with its beauty and exactitude. Strongly opinionated and not remotely apologetic about that. Has the knowledge to back up the assertions and assumes an intelligent reader who will think for themselves anyway. The essay on art has got me looking at paintings more attentively, my old fascination with T S Eliot has been rekindled and I'm planning on re Wonderfully enjoyable read. Makes you think and think differently as well. The writing demands slowness of pace and deep attention but it repays you with its beauty and exactitude. Strongly opinionated and not remotely apologetic about that. Has the knowledge to back up the assertions and assumes an intelligent reader who will think for themselves anyway. The essay on art has got me looking at paintings more attentively, my old fascination with T S Eliot has been rekindled and I'm planning on reading more Virgina Woolf and Adrienne Rich. I love it when a book leads on to even more wonders.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    I somehow thought this book would be about a writer finding how to look at paintings. And the first essay is and I really loved it. The remaining essays are about writers and writing. Here I found some revelatory ideas but to me the tone was often strident and I grew impatient. I know this book gets rave reviews and I feel somewhat of a heretic. I do recommend the first essay especially to Erin as food for ekphrastic. I am rereading this. It is like discovering Winterson for the first time. I fin I somehow thought this book would be about a writer finding how to look at paintings. And the first essay is and I really loved it. The remaining essays are about writers and writing. Here I found some revelatory ideas but to me the tone was often strident and I grew impatient. I know this book gets rave reviews and I feel somewhat of a heretic. I do recommend the first essay especially to Erin as food for ekphrastic. I am rereading this. It is like discovering Winterson for the first time. I find it wonderfully written and inspiring. A book I could come back to again and again.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Anie

    Winterson talking on art - her passion and her life's work - is an amazing thing to read. Her language is a hypnotic, finely crafted dreamscape, and is a beautiful place to romp for a while. She is obsessively in love with art, and angry at a society which seems to have no place for it. The passion, the dreamscape, the obsession all combine to create a very, very powerful work; a work which heats, tempers, excites the reader. Winterson talking on art - her passion and her life's work - is an amazing thing to read. Her language is a hypnotic, finely crafted dreamscape, and is a beautiful place to romp for a while. She is obsessively in love with art, and angry at a society which seems to have no place for it. The passion, the dreamscape, the obsession all combine to create a very, very powerful work; a work which heats, tempers, excites the reader.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Vivienne Strauss

    For the most part, I really loved this book and it makes me want to be a less lazy reader and challenge myself more with my choices. Much to think about here though at times I found her to be rather pretentious and annoying.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    I'd say Winterson should stick to the novels. She's old school naive in her criticism & I felt annoyed with her the entire time I read this. I'd say Winterson should stick to the novels. She's old school naive in her criticism & I felt annoyed with her the entire time I read this.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lauren G

    Definitely demands periodic rereading.

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