I love going to a snowy place during Christmas. The falling snow is a fabulous sight and it makes the landscape incredibly picturesque. The snow that has covered dark brown houses resemble layers of icing on top of chocolate cakes and fruitcakes. Coming from a place where the year is only divided between dry and wet season, snow is an eye candy, the experience whimsical. I can imagine that it will cause some hardship for people who have to experience bitter cold winter year in year out. I savour every moment of it whenever I have the opportunity to experience a cold winter.
In December, we were in Hakuba for a few days. I was sitting in the chairlift with a skiing instructor, he kept saying that he was feeling very cold and how the temperature could have dropped several degrees the last half hour. He is from Brisbane ( that probably explains).While I enjoyed the wintery landscape, it was indeed freezing cold. I wore my woollen pants that provided the warmth that was much needed but I realized that I had worn a layer too many beneath my ski pants and due to the cold, my boots had contracted and they were biting into my calves so much that I ended up having the worst kind of blisters around my ankles. Despite all that , I still love the powdery snow, it is dreamlike.
Ali Smith intends to write a quartet of novels entitled Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer. Winter is the second novel of Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet. Autumn click is the first in the series and Winter was published shortly after.
In Winter, Art, a nature writer pays Lux, a foreign woman to impersonate his girlfriend, Charlotte for a visit to his mother, Sophie in Cornwall during Christmas holidays. Iris, Sophie’s sister who is an activist shows up at the house uninvited. Unlike Sophie who is a businesswoman, Iris has been a protester all her life.
Smith is very brilliant in translating her philosophy set against Brexit in her fictions. She subtly covers Syrian refugee crisis, Libya and Trump’s administration in Winter. Lux refers to Cymbeline written by William Shakespeare.
‘Cymbeline, Lux says.
A play about a divided kingdom subsumed in chaos, lies, power mongering, division and a great deal of poison and self- poisoning, his mother says.
Where everybody is pretending to be someone or something else, Lux says. And you can’t see for the life of you how any of it will resolve in the end, because it’s such a tangled-up messed-up farce of a mess. It’s the first of his plays I read. It also happens to be why I ever wanted to come to this country to study. I read it and I thought, if this writer from this place can make this mad and bitter mess into this graceful thing it is at the end, where the balance comes back and all the lies are revealed and all the losses are compensated, and that’s the place on earth he comes from ,that’s the place that made him, then that’s the place I’m going, I’ll go there , I’ll live there. ‘
‘Art walks past the British Library and he sees an image of Shakespeare outside it on a poster.
That’s why Lux chose to live here, her of all the places on the earth.’
Art approaches the librarian.
‘ Cymbeline, he says. The one about poison, mess, bitterness, ten the balance coming back. The lies revealed. The losses compensated.
Ali Smith pays homage to A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The world history is cyclical. There is no resolution and the world is unsettling and bleak just like winter and then spring will arrive. The world must feel hopeful again.