Consideration of Jeanette Winterson's novel Sexing the Cherry alongside selected Walter Benjamin essays illuminates the novel's commitment to a politicized historical narrative. Like Benjamin's essays, Sexing interweaves strains of materialist, postmodern, and redemptive historiographies. First, the novel's reinterpretation of England's Puritan Revolution enacts a Benjaminian materialist historiography in adopting elements of pre-modern storytelling, and attending to stories of the marginalized, "constellated" with present-day revolutionary moments, although Winterson's revision also foregrounds the roles of sexuality and gender in historiographic narrative. Second, the novel's postmodern traits, particularly the figure of the hybrid cherry, index the kind of historical narrative Benjamin mandated, grafting together narrative forms, and transplanting history into the present through artistic/technological acts of representation/reproduction. And third, the novel's evocations of light and space recall Benjamin's theological vision of Messianic time; both authors implant images of transcendence in their political historiographies, finding redemptive possibilities in the sparks and fragments of history.


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pp. 21-50
Launched on MUSE
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