''Oranges are not the only fruit,'' Nell Gwyn once said, knowing she had something sexier to sell to Covent Garden's 17th-century theatergoers in the days before she became a royal mistress. Indeed, as Jeanette Winterson demonstrates in ''Sexing the Cherry,'' they're not. The young British writer used the one-time orange girl's words as the title for her first novel, a somewhat autobiographical account of a lesbian orphan brought up in a fundamentalist sect. And her new book proffers not only the title's cherry but also the first pineapple ever seen in England, presented to Charles II in 1661, and a banana that in its London debut is taken to be ''the private parts of an Oriental.''
在成为查尔斯二世的情妇之前，妮尔·格温(Nell Gwyn)曾经向前往考文特花园看戏的十七世纪贵妇们推销比橘子更性感的水果，她说：“橘子不是唯一的水果。” 英国青年作家珍妮特·温特森(Jeanette Winterson)在《给樱桃以性别》(Sexing The Cherry)中再次证明了这一点——橘子不是唯一的水果。这位作家多少有些自传性质的第一部小说便以橘子命名， 讲述了一位在原教旨主义的极端宗教家庭长大的女同性恋孤儿的故事。而在她的新作中不仅仅有标题中的樱桃，更有1661年进贡给查尔斯二世、英格兰的第一颗菠萝，以及一根初登英格兰时被当作“东方人下体”的香蕉。
Fruit as a metaphor for sexuality - well, nothing new in that. But for Ms. Winterson fruit is also something rich and sweet, an exotic juiciness hidden beneath the pineapple's unpalatable skin, a new marvel brought into our ken. ''Sexing the Cherry'' fuses history, fairy tale and metafiction into a fruit that's rather crisp, not terribly sweet, but of a memorably startling flavor. Set mostly in the 17th century, the novel employs two alternating narrators. One is the gigantic Dog Woman, an appealingly innocent murderess, puzzled by just what it is that attracts people about sex - for she's so enormous that experiencing it herself has proved impossible. The other is her adopted son, Jordan, a naturalist who wonders about the human applications of ''the new fashion of grafting, which we had understood from France,'' the grafting through which a new kind of cherry tree has been created and given a sex - female - without parent or seed. And the novel itself grafts together not just those two voices, but different narrative modes as well.
''My neighbour, who is so blackened and hairless that she has twice been mistaken for a side of salt beef wrapped in muslin, airs herself abroad as a witch.'' That's the Dog Woman, so called because she breeds dogs for the fights and races in Hyde Park. Jordan's voice is less pungent and more meditative: ''Every journey conceals another journey within its lines,'' he muses. ''The path not taken and the forgotten angle. These are the journeys I wish to record. Not the ones I made, but the ones I might have made, or perhaps did make in some other place or time.'' Like his quest for a woman whom he sees one morning ''climbing down from her window on a thin rope which she cut and re-knotted a number of times during the descent'' - a quest that leads to his discovery of 12 princesses who dance away each night to a weightless city in the sky. Or a journey through time itself, which Jordan believes to be rounded and curved like a globe, instead of flat and linear like a map - so that at the end of the novel we meet another Jordan and another Dog Woman in 1990, and find that nothing has changed in 300 years.
But Ms. Winterson alternates these metaphysical conceits with the Dog Woman's world of blood and pus and sweat. A Royalist, a Cavalier of the slums, she's long pondered the biblical motto ''an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,'' and one day decides to take it seriously. Soon she's got a bagful of both, all popped from Puritans, and moves on to work as an executioner at a brothel where the whores murder their puritanical Roundhead customers. Of course, all her victims are men. And the 12 dancing princesses murder the husbands they're forced to marry. At times, in fact, it seems that the only men in ''Sexing the Cherry'' worth saving are those who, like Jordan, have given cross-dressing a try. I note this, but curiously enough it didn't bother me as I read the novel. If Kingsley Amis can use women as objects for his misanthropy, I suppose Ms. Winterson can use men as a metaphor for a world based on a pestilential hypocrisy.
I do, however, question her success in producing her own kind of graft. Her prose is exquisite, although, like the best sort of fruitcake, it's too rich to take much of at a sitting. But the book seems disjointed. It needs, but never quite achieves, an integration of the Dog Woman's world and Jordan's speculations. The games it plays with gender aren't made to relate to the ones it plays with time. And while the effect of ''Sexing the Cherry'' depends above all on novelty, the kinds of materials Ms. Winterson uses - the feminist revision of fairy tales, the reliance on historical pastiche, an insistence on the subjectivity of all truth - have paradoxically become so fashionably familiar that they begin to seem the cliches of post-modernism. It almost seems written to recipe: graft Italo Calvino onto Angela Carter, with an admixture of Peter Ackroyd.
但我并不确定她是否成功制造了自己专有的文学嫁接。这本小说行文优雅，但就像一块高级水果蛋糕，要一次吃完实在有些甜腻。故事本身也有些不连贯，本可以更好地融合狗妇的世界和约旦的思索，却没有做到。且关于性别的文字游戏又无法与关于时间的文字游戏做到相互关联。再者，《给樱桃以性别》一书所期取得的效果，全部取决于它可以带来的新意，但那些温特森善用的文学手段——以女性主义视角重述童话、对历史拼贴式写作的依赖、坚持所有真相都是主观的——却因已风行多时，变得太过熟悉而成为了后现代主义的老生常谈。这就像是一道写好了的菜谱：把卡尔维诺(Italo Calvino)嫁接给安吉拉·卡特(Angela Carter)，再加一点彼得·阿克罗伊德(Peter Ackroyd)的风味。
But no - Ms. Winterson has her own strengths, above all an emotional intensity that Ms. Carter, for example, seems without. I think of two things that set her apart, two things that figure in all her work: a fascination with sexual ambiguity, cross-dressing and blurred genders on the one hand, and with foundling children on the other. And their combination gives her prose an exuberance cut with a melancholy knowledge of what it is to be hurt, and of how deep and enduring that hurt can be; a knowledge that's far more memorable, and unsettling, than any of the Dog Woman's murders. ''Sexing the Cherry'' may not be without parent or seed, but its taste is rich enough to make me look forward to whatever fruit may follow it.