On May 16th, renowned contemporary British novelist Jeanette Winterson brought her recent book The Gap of Time (2016) to Nanjing Normal University. Organized by the School of Foreign Languages and Literatures, hosted by deputy chair Prof. Tian Zhaoxia, the roundtable reading of her novel (along with writer and translator Ms. Yu Shi and avant-garde women playwright Bo Bangni) was an enormous success. The lecture hall in the library was packed with students as well as faculty members, while latecomers had to crash in the aisles.
Winterson first briefly introduced her recent novel The Gap of Time, her cover version of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Shakespeare’s play tells the story of a king whose jealousy results in the banishment of his baby daughter and the death of his beautiful wife. His daughter is found and brought up by a shepherd on the Bohemian coast, but through a series of extraordinary events, father and daughter, and eventually mother too, are reunited. But in Winterson’s cover version, she set the story in a storm-ravaged American city called New Bohemia. She confessed that her own childhood in an foster family also helped her to better interpret and present the story, one of childhood friendship, money, status, technology and the elliptical nature of time. Winterson also shared some interesting stories in her life: how she adapted her first work Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, which became an immediate sensation when aired in BBC. Though she thought working as a playwright is fun, she likes being a writer much better.
During the Q&A session, many brilliant questions were asked, to which Winterson all responded in great detail with her quick wit and deep insight. For instance, when asked about how to understand Shakespeare’s works, Winterson replied that love, fate and forgiveness are among the important themes that Shakespeare explores. In terms of female characters in Shakespeare’s works, her personal understanding is that though women in his earlier works are less fortunate, women in his late works become more gentle and favorable.
(by Xie Wenjuan)