Hooked on Classics: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit 25 years on

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapterpeer-review


This chapter sets out to to reassess the critical reception of Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit 25 years after its initial publication. It argues that the text operates on many different levels, circulating as a much loved comic novel of growing up, as teaching material, as an aspect of popular/literary culture, and as part of Winterson’s own mythobiography. Its success may be attributed to the ways in which the narrative ‘hooks’ itself onto classic texts, which circulate in the culture’s collective unconscious. This chapter will combine these emphases and consider the novel as a literary classic that both subverts the canon and inscribes the tradition in the process of reworking autobiography as art. It will draw on recent interviews with Winterson to suggest that the novel represents a ‘cover story’ that conceals the sense of loss intrinsic to Winterson’s origin story.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReassessing the Twentieth-Century Canon: From Joseph Conrad to Zadie Smith
EditorsNicola Allen, David Simmons
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-36601-6
ISBN (Print)978-1-137-36600-9, 978-1-349-47397-7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Jeanette Winterson
  • autobiographical fiction
  • canon
  • intertextuality
  • cover stories


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