Citazione da "Powerbook", Jeanette Winterson. Una delle metafore erotiche più affascinanti per un fiore e per un altro genere di fiore. Il libro è grandioso ma sono parziale, della Winterson li ho letti tutti. E’ complessa, geniale, cerebrale e piccante, profonda ed ermetica, ironica e ibrida tra i due sessi. La adoro. (Alternative a "Powerbook": "Passione" e "Scritto sul corpo". Non hanno niente del romanzetto rosa, nonostante i titoli. Piccola biblioteca Oscar Mondadori, costa gialla.)

I want to start with a tulip.

In the sixteenth century the first tulip was imported to Holland from

Turkey . I know—I carried it myself.

By 1634 the Dutch were so crazy for this fish-mouthed flower that one collector exchanged a thousand pounds of cheese, four oxen, eight pigs, twelve sheep, a bed and a suit of clothes for a single bulb.

What’s so special about a tulip?

Put it this way . . . When is a tulip not a tulip?

When it’s a Parrot or a Bizarre. When it’s variegated or dwarf. When it comes called Beauty’s Reward or Heart’s Reviver. When it comes called Key of Pleasure or Lover’s Dream . . .

Tulips, every one—and hundreds more—each distinctively different, all the same. The attribute of variation that humans and tulips share.
It was Key of Pleasure and Lover’s Dream that I carried from Sulyman the Magnificent to

Leiden in 1591. To be exact, I strapped them under my trousers . . .

. . .

‘Put it this way.’

‘No. I’ll crush them when I rest.’

‘Put it this way . . .’

‘No. I’ll crush them when I pray.’

‘Put one here and one here . . .’

‘No! It will look as though I have an evil swelling.’

Well, where would you store a priceless pair of bulbs?

That gave me the idea.

In the same place as a priceless pair of balls.

Yes! Yes! Yes!


I became a spy.

Sulyman himself appointed me and his instruction now is that I should get into a boat and bear a gift to his friends, the Dutch. A gift that every scurvy captain and leprous merchant will try to steal.

How to conceal it?

Put it this way . . .

My mother got some stout thread and belted it through the natural die-back of the bulb tops. Then she sewed the lot on to a narrow leather strap and fastened it round my hips.

‘Should they hang dead centre like that?’

(My mother went to inspect my father.)

‘Dress them on the left.’

‘That’s good, but there’s something missing.’


‘The bit in the middle.’

I went up into the hills, for tulips grow as thick as thieves here. I found
myself a well-formed fat stem supporting a good-sized red head with rounded tips. I nicked it at the base with my knife and the juice covered my fingers.

At home my mother embalmed the tulip, and in a few days it was ready to wear.

This was my centrepiece. About eight inches long, plump, with a nice weight to it. We secured it to my person and inspected the results. There are many legends of men being turned into beasts and women into trees, but none I think, till now, of a woman who becomes a man by means of a little horticultural grafting.

My mother knelt down and put her nose close.

‘You smell like a garden,’ she said.


Trembling, hungry, dirty and alone, Ali sat on the floor and wondered what
could become of him. Two servants entered. One filled a copper bath, while the other laid out food and fresh clothes. Neither spoke to Ali until they had finished their tasks. Then one said, ‘You are to eat and bathe and dress yourself and be ready at sundown.’

‘Ready for what?’

‘The Princess.’

I unstrapped myself and lay in the bath. I reckoned I should make a clean breast of it, though my breasts were not the part in dispute. As a woman, what would be my fate? Mercy or death?

As a boy, I had nothing to look forward to, except perhaps . . .

‘Sexual congress,’ said the Princess.

She was walking round and round me as though I were a fountain, pausing now and then to dabble her hands. She was beautiful, young, haughty.

‘I am to be married in one month, and my husband wishes me to learn something of the arts of love. He has appointed you to teach

me. ‘

‘I know nothing,’ I said.

‘That is why you have been chosen. You are only a boy and can do me neither hurt nor insult. You will be gentle. You will be slow. If I do not like you I shall behead you.’


‘Of course not.’

‘Lady,’ I said, ‘there must be many in your kingdom better equipped than I am.’

‘They have not your treasure,’ she said. ‘We have heard how you feared less for your life than for your member.’

‘My treasure is not what you think it is.’

‘I think nothing. Kiss me.’

I kissed her. It wasn’t so bad.

Days and nights passed. I kissed her mouth and her neck. I kissed her breasts and her belly. I kissed her lower than her belly and was pleased with the ripples of pleasure I found there. She was dainty and sweet, a dish of figs in fine weather.

We were approaching the inevitable, but we weren’t there yet.