Monday, November 3, 2008

The Passion

I just finished my end of the 75 question swap. The answers will be in the mail tomorrow morning after we Vote. The question I loved to answer concerned my inner nerd. What is my favorite book and favorite author. Since I spent a little time in the library room of our place I dug out my well loved...well read...well lined copy of The Passion by Jeanette Winterson. This was the first book of fiction I read after I graduated high school and was dwelling in college. It opened a door that has stayed open since. Until this book I had always been a "reader". It was an easy form of escape. Yet everything I read until that point was suggested by peers or the high school English teacher. (IE: Interview With a Vampire, Stephen King books....Lord of the Flies). This type of fiction carried me away. I have read most of J.W. books and adore her writing....her language melts me. I just added her website over there on the Gnome Watch for those who get into literature. She is my book crush. What is The Passion about? It takes place in France and Venice during the reign of Napoleon. The characters serve chicken, gamble, and search for what love is. The following is one of my favorite passages:

Bonaparte, the Corsican. Born in 1769, a Leo.

Short, pale moody, with an eye to the future and a singular ability to concentrate. In 1789 revolution opened a closed world and for a time the meanest street boy had more on his side than any aristocrat. For a young Lieutenant skilled in artillery, the chances were kind and in a few years General Bonaparte was turning Italy into the fields of France.

"What is luck," he said, "but the ability to exploit accidents?"

He believed he was the center of the world and for a long time there was nothing to change him from this belief. Not even John Bull. He was in love with himself and France joined in. It was a romance. Perhaps all romance is like that: not a contrast between equal parties but an explosion of dreams and desires that can find no outlet in everyday life. Only a drama will do and while the fireworks last the sky is a different colour. He became an Emperor. He called the Pope from the Holy City to crown him but at the last second took the crown in his own hands and placed it on his own head. He divorced the only person that understood him, the only person he ever really loved, because she couldn't give him a child. That was the only part of the romance he couldn't control himself.

He is repulsive and fascinating by turns.

What would you do if you were an Emperor? Would soldiers become numbers? Would battles become diagrams? Would intellectuals become a threat? Would you end your days on an island where the food is salty and the company bland?

He was the most powerful man in the world and he couldn't beat Josephine at billiards.

I am telling you stories. Trust me.

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