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Art and Lies

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  2,973 ratings  ·  119 reviews
One of the most audacious and provocative writers on either side of the Atlantic now gives readers a dazzling, arousing, and wise improvisation on art, Eros, language, and identity. "A series of intense, artful musings that are exhilarating and visionary. . . . Unsettling yet strangely satisfying".--Newsday.
Paperback, 206 pages
Published February 20th 1996 by Vintage Books (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Cheryl
"The doctor said he could find nothing wrong. She was healthy, she had work, she came from a good family. Her heart beat was normal. Was it? Well, perhaps a little too fast.
Heart attack. Had her heart attacked her? Her heart, trained at obedience classes from an early age? Her heart, well muzzled in public, taught to trot in line. Her heart, that knew the Ten Commandments, and obeyed a hundred more. Her disciplined dogged heart that would come when it was called and that never strained its leash
...more
Katherine
I saw so much of Kathy Acker throughout this book that I worried it bordered on the unethical. For this reason, I'm not entirely comfortable giving it a four-star review, or talking it up, but here goes:

This three-part piece meditates on art, women artists, modernity, and love and/or sex, irrespective of realism or linearity. The Sappho sections in particular are amazing - the poet rises from the dead in a halo of white-hot prose. The other voices flesh out its themes: Picasso, a contemporary fe
...more
Bill
Sex=Lies; Art=Transcendence (2012).

Winterson, Jeanette. (1994). Art & Lies. New York:Vintage

Idly, I picked up this book in a used book shop. The publisher’s blurb on the back said it was “…a daring novel that burns with phosphorescent prose on every page.” I thought, “Yeah, sure.” I opened the book at random and to my amazement, every page I read burned with phosphorescent prose.

Is it a novel? Not in the Aristotelian sense. There is no plot, no storyline, no climax, no epiphany, no denoueme
...more
Sarah
Jul 02, 2008 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who enjoy navel gazing and misery.
Recommended to Sarah by: another four. quite fitting.
Art & Lies is definitely as hard of a read as some of the reviews state. However, within this scattered collection of character turmoil is some of the most beautiful truths I've ever read. It took me quite awhile to read this, but was well worth it in the end. Handel may well have been my own tortured inner Catholic would-be eunuch (which is an entertaining thought, as I am not and have never been Catholic).

Consider the following:

Shame. Unusual for a Catholic to feel shame. Guilt is our tic
...more
Dave-O
Jeanette Winterson's strong command of the language combined with a concise, confident direction make Art and Lies a pleasure to read. Filled with allegory and farcical situations reminiscent of Jean Genet and William S. Borroughs she tells of a sexually ambiguous surgeon named Handel; a mentally and physically molested woman artist named Picasso; and the poet Sappho who shares a train ride with the other two.

What ensues is a history of each carefully developed character and how they intertwine
...more
Evan
Oct 08, 2007 Evan rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who likes Jeanette Winterson. Those who will follow her anywhere :)
"Two things significantly distinguish human beings from other animals; an interest in the past and the possibility of language. Brought together they make a third: Art."

Art & Lies is a book I don't quite understand. But there were choice quotes like the one above that kept me reading. The book is told through three characters eyes. Handel is a surgeon, ex priest. Picasso is a young painter who grew up in a very malignant environment, her brother molested, raped her repeatedly from when she w
...more
Peter Chandler
With such astonishingly lyrical writing, deep introspective musings and resounding cries for individualism this is a truly mesmerising book. I began thinking to try the first few pages and some endlessly astounding moments later I had finished and was strangely aware of how dark it suddenly had become outside! Jeanette Winterson's fantastic prose weaves exhilarating, arousing, inspiring and uplifting web that entirely entangles and lingers long after the end.
Katie
I couldn't help but read this slowly
To let the words surround me and fill me
I wanted to stay as long as possible within the pages
Resist the urge to devour every sentence, every word, letter, and period

Winterson has a way with words
They are dark, and rich, and beautiful
I wanted to live them, breathe them
Swim in a sea of her words.

I consumed the last word and now I am sad that it is over.
George
This book switches back and forth between three different narrators -- Handel, a former priest and current surgeon, Picasso, a young woman from a wealthy family, and Sappho, the poet. (Well, technically, there is a fourth narrative, a book that is being read.) Each of the voices is distinctive, but, partly because of this, the book is uneven overall. I usually love the way Winterson writes, but I found her veering off a little too much here. The Handel sections are strong, and there is an intere ...more
Alexandevra
Art and Lies is one of my favorite books. It's very emotional, powerful and beautiful. A perfect book, indeed.
Tom
I've read several of Winterson's novels, and absolutely love her insight into the human condition. However, I found this novel particularly difficult to read. It is slightly too abstract, and although it contains many beautiful passages that seem to instinctively pinpoint universal experiences, it doesn't quite work as a whole. Obviously that is just my opinion, and perhaps my enjoyment would benefit from a second reading now that I've got my head around the crazy narrative. Definitely worth rea ...more
Matt
This is another classic Jeannette Winterson. The prose is magical and each phrase is a reverie. Here are a few nuggets to share…

The past stands behind me as a house where I used to live. A house whose windows, from a distance, are clear and bright, but strangely shaded as I come near. p. 40

Why is it painful to me, that day, though long gone and unreturnable? Painful, so that I slow my steps on the busy streets, pausing as one who has forgotten something. I have forgotten how to look at pictures,
...more
Anna
Dec 04, 2010 Anna added it
I don't know how to rate this...it was my first Winterson book. There were whole pages I wanted to cut out and paste on my wall. But there's also an entire musical score at the end, and lots of other strangeness. Not entirely sure what to make of it--but I will definitely read more JW.
Wendy Orr
Lyrical, rich, sometimes overwhelming, in its use of language, this is poetry in prose form.
Sara Comuzzo
è il terzo libro suo che leggo. questa scrittrice incontrata per caso.
mi piace. mi piace molto. ha un'abilità raffinata, un senso di osservazione e una capacità di indagare l'animo umano notevoli, uniche.

una storia complessa. tre personaggi: Handel, un medico-sacerdote; Picasso, una giovane pittrice, e Saffo, la poetessa greca. sono tutti e 3 su un treno verso la luce, verso il sole, verso la vita.

un romanzo che sembra un trattato sull'amore, sul possesso, sulla violenza, sulla ricchezza.

la wint
...more
Jeff
Recommended to me by a friend from whom I've never been recommended books before, and in some respects this would seem like a poor choice for me. It deals in some aspects that I really try to avoid in my recreational reading these days - de-emphasis on plot, emphasis on contemplative thought and associative vocabulary. Done poorly, these aspects are unendurable. But Ms. Winterson is brilliant, and has something to say, and it all holds together beautifully.

The setting is a dystopia of sorts not
...more
Devin
#32

Athanor \Ath"a*nor\, n. [F., fr. Ar. at-tann[=u]r, fr. Heb.
tann[=u]r an oven or furnace.]
A digesting furnace, formerly used by alchemists. It was so constructed as to maintain uniform and durable heat.


ardour
n 1: a feeling of strong eagerness (usually in favor of a person or cause); "they were imbued with a revolutionary ardor"; "he felt a kind of religious zeal" [syn: ardor, elan, zeal]
2: intense feeling of love [syn: ardor]
3: feelings of great warmth and intensity; "he spoke with great
...more
Stefanie
Mar 13, 2008 Stefanie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Stefanie by: Clarita
Just some random notes and quotes I jotted while reading this book to make more sense of it. Winterson's way of writing can be hard to follow at first but once you fully immerse yourself in the text it becomes easier and quite enjoyable.

pg 15 "My own austerity, some might say severity, is like those magic girdles that knights used to wear when fighting dragons. Irrelevant, certainly, but it protects me by reminding me of what things I value. And the things I value are not the fake attentions and
...more
Ester
Very philosophical. Many references to the Classics. Themes: feminism, religion, identity, civil rights, abuse, symbolism, logos and Eros, Art, a good life.
While reading it I was thinking Jeanette Winterson is in the league of Novel prize winners like J.M. Coetzee.
Mike
I kept reading for the stunningly beautiful poetic prose. The story came together, but my tiny brain didn't bring me there as well as Winterson brought her plotlines to converge. Need to sit down with someone for 2 weeks to get a better handle on this piece.
Ellen
I usually find Jeanette Winterson very engaging to read. I read Lighthousekeeping cover to cover in one sitting. This just didn't work for me for some reason, although it did become a bit more compelling towards the end.
Anna
Jun 30, 2010 Anna rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
4.5 stars. I am growing more accustomed to Winterson's writing style, and it was this book that finally made me bow down and worship her as a master of the English language. Her prose is so smoothly woven that even when I didn't follow the "plot" of the story I was still mesmerized. That is her style, I realized-- for me to enjoy the journey rather than rush through to the destination. I won't even attempt a plot summary. "Art & Lies," for me, was more a series of vibrant, human vignettes on ...more
Louise Chambers
I had to get this through Interlibrary Loan. Why oh why don't any of the libraries carry Jeannette's books? She is witty, delightfully playful with language, deep without being intellectual. Come on libraries! Let's get more than the NYTimes bestseller list books.
Nyna
This book is beautiful, and lyrical, and it holds together very well even without a standard plot. Winterson can at time become too fond of her own voice, but not in this novel -- I would call this easily the best book she's ever written, followed perhaps by 'Written On The Body.'

The three characters are all distinct and likable, their flaws and stories gradually coming clear as the story progresses. The real crowning glory of this book is the prose, which is at times more like poetry. I keep c
...more
Jessica
Jeanette Winterson always stays true to her credo that fiction should not represent reality but should create its own reality. In "Art & Lies" she tells three meandering interwoven tales in three voices, all embedded with musings on art and life and feminism, and all nonlinear in their progression. As always, beautiful language and piercing notions. Still, this was not my favorite of her books, though I have to admire the craftspersonship (she'd be proud of me for catching that!) and the bre ...more
Rosy
Not my favourite Winterson book, that prize still goes to Sexing the Cherry, but pretty close.
Lewis
I've given up. At about two-thirds of the way through this slim book, I just couldn't face carrying on. It's a shame, because I love Jeanette Winterson's other novels, but Art & Lies is so obtuse that it's practically unreadable. Halfway through the novel I had to look up what it was actually meant to be about because I still didn't have a clue - not a good sign. Taken in isolation, there a passages that are wonderful in terms of their sense of poetry and emotion, but these passages don't kn ...more
Alexis
Not my favorite Winterson book, but still a nice mix of history, art, culture, etc. She riffs off of several artists/creative folks (Handel, Sappho, Picasso), and I love the way that the narratives end up overlapping and intertwining as well as the ways in which she undermines established notions of history/culture/etc. Very interesting, but just not as emotionally compelling to me as some of her other works (but perhaps that's because I read it after the end of a very long semester ;-)).
Peter Chandler
With such astonishingly lyrical writing, deep introspective musings and resounding cries for individualism this is a truly mesmerising book. I began thinking to try the first few pages and some endlessly astounding moments later I had finished and was strangely aware of how dark it suddenly had become outside! Jeanette Winterson's fantastic prose weaves exhilarating, arousing, inspiring and uplifting web that entirely entangles and lingers long after the end.
Lauren
I love Jeannette Winterson and everything she has written. I love the first few chapters of this book, but I am taking a break from it. In addition to the beautiful heartbreak and struggle that she brings to each book, this one is especially strong in the philosophy, history, and feminist theory areas. Which is wonderful; I'm just not in the headspace to think about Sappho and what she means to the world and my daily life. I'll get to it soon, maybe on vacation.
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Novelist Jeanette Winterson was born in Manchester, England in 1959. She was adopted and brought up in Accrington, Lancashire, in the north of England. Her strict Pentecostal Evangelist upbringing provides the background to her acclaimed first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, published in 1985. She graduated from St Catherine's College, Oxford, and moved to London where she worked as an assi ...more
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Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit Written on the Body Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? The Passion Sexing the Cherry

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“After loss of Identity, the most potent modern terror, is loss of sexuality, or, as Descartes didn’t say, "I fuck therefore I am".” 96 likes
“Know thyself,’ said Socrates.
Know thyself,’ said Sappho, ‘and make sure that the Church never finds out.”
54 likes
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