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Art & Lies

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  3,450 Ratings  ·  147 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.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
ebook, 240 pages
Published April 17th 2013 by Vintage (first published 1994)
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Cheryl
Feb 08, 2009 Cheryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Katie
May 29, 2013 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Bill
Apr 14, 2013 Bill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary
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
Evan
Sep 27, 2007 Evan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dave-O
Jul 13, 2007 Dave-O rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Peter Chandler
Aug 30, 2010 Peter Chandler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Marc Nash
Oct 03, 2016 Marc Nash rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The usual unsurpassed Winterson literary & lingual pyrotechnics and lyricism. Ideas of love, art, desire, history, big ideas dealt with in breathless fragments. The Handel and Picasso chapters were wondrous, the Sappho a bit more oblique and harder to grasp and therefore less satisfying. And the bawd, was well bawdy. Maybe just a bit too packed and breathless for my way of reading. One should probably bask in a couple of a pages at a time and go away and meditate on them before returning for ...more
Anna
Aug 13, 2008 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Anna
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.
John Pistelli
[Spoilers, disturbing ones at that, toward the end of this review.]

My first encounter with Jeanette Winterson went badly. In college, I read Written on the Body and found it ludicrously overwritten, an imprecise prose poem wearing the guise of a novel, and poorly. I almost wish my Livejournal from that period of my life were still extant so I could quote from my bad review; I remember that it turned on mocking the line from the novel, “Your clavicle is both keyboard and key” (honestly, I still t
...more
Lisanne
This one lured me in with its beautiful, philosophical language and then crushed me to pieces. Art and Lies deals with a lot of heavy and dark themes and is therefore very hard to read at times. Nevertheless, the writing is so smooth and has such a pleasant flow that you want to read on, no matter the subject.
Jim
Feb 16, 2017 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“There’s no such thing as autobiography there’s only art and lies.”

Alternating chapters describe the lives of the three main characters, Handel, a doctor-priest, Picasso, a young woman sexually molested by her brother who paints, and Sappho, the pre-Socratic poet of sexuality.

Handel, the doctor, spent a lot of his career amputating cancerous breasts, and one fateful day cuts off the wrong breast of an ageing prostitute. He could have covered it up being part of an old boy network, cut off the ri
...more
George
May 10, 2008 George rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Yasmeen
Mar 22, 2015 Yasmeen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like this book could have easily sucked. But it manages to really not. Three separate, loosely connected narratives interwoven by a fourth- it's hard to say what it's actually about. Which is obviously not an issue, but it's often hard to pull off just right so I'm extra impressed when it works. It feels like you're reading moments and thoughts that just casually drift together and make a really satisfying whole. The best part though is that it's beautiful- Winterson's writing is gorgeous ...more
Tom
Apr 17, 2010 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lewis
Sep 29, 2013 Lewis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Wendy Orr
Jul 13, 2012 Wendy Orr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lyrical, rich, sometimes overwhelming, in its use of language, this is poetry in prose form.
Alexandevra
Mar 01, 2014 Alexandevra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, finished
Art and Lies is one of my favorite books. It's very emotional, powerful and beautiful. A perfect book, indeed.
Stefanie
Feb 19, 2008 Stefanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Devin
Jul 29, 2007 Devin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rivalryjuly
#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
Visola
Feb 10, 2017 Visola rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite book. I read it again because it always helps when I'm going through difficult times and this was no different. Normally I focus on the four voices and their plot lines. This time I was focused primarily on the poetry and light throughout. Picasso is a painter and light comes as a no brainer, Handel is a surgeon and the light he references is a soul searching complication, Sappho's light is more subtle and Doll Sneerpiece draws the light out of everyone. That's not to say she ...more
Jeff
Feb 06, 2014 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Matt
Jun 14, 2014 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kara Donnelly
I lacked a book while visiting family over the holidays, and decided I could bulk up on my contemporary British fiction with this. It struck me as very... Winterson-esque. Some very lovely passages, some very compelling moments, but I ultimately want things to come together a bit better, or be more fully elaborated. It seemed too long to be a perplexing novella, and too short to weave together the density it needed to. And I got a bit lost, reading but not taking much in, in some of the less con ...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
Nyna
Nov 25, 2007 Nyna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
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
Claire
Jun 04, 2010 Claire rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was more abstract than my usual reads, but the philosophical bent and the stream of consciousness type writing made it a dream-like read: a times nonsensical and at times absolutely clear and meaningful. It was beautifully written and wise. If you're looking for a linear plot with clear lines and definitions, this is not the book for you, but if you're open to a wandering journey, it's worth it.
Peter Chandler
Aug 30, 2010 Peter Chandler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Kristen
Jan 19, 2012 Kristen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Art & Lies is my favorite novel. It is complex, and difficult to understand, but Winterson really delves into uncharted waters here with a lot of success. The lyricism of the writing is what keeps you reading the first time. Then, further readings reveal the meaning and the story is so wonderfully powerful that if it were any easier to read, it wouldn't be as rewarding. I love this book, even started to write my thesis about the "lexigraphic fuck".
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2015 Reading Chal...: Art and Lies by Jeanette Winterson 3 25 Oct 13, 2015 11:40AM  
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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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“After loss of Identity, the most potent modern terror, is loss of sexuality, or, as Descartes didn’t say, "I fuck therefore I am".” 114 likes
“Know thyself,’ said Socrates.
Know thyself,’ said Sappho, ‘and make sure that the Church never finds out.”
66 likes
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