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key influences and themes

One of the most significant themes in Roberts' work is the mother-daughter relationship.

"I think a powerful moment for me is very connected to being bilingual; because I grew up in England speaking English, French remained a sort of secret language that was somewhere else, connected to my mother of course because she was the French person. But because I had a very difficult relationship with my mother for a long time, it was as though France was far away, my mother was far away, the French language was far away and the defining moment which recurred was me trying to reach my mother again, to reach my homeland again. That search for a lost paradise and a lost language and a lost mother, .. and a lost maternal body I think has been my major source of inspiration. And I can't pin it down and say it happened then or then, to a particular year, it's a sort of inner moment which is constantly reborn"
Michele Roberts

Michele Roberts' work is full of references to a lost paradise which here she links to the loss of closeness with her mother and distancing from France and the French language. In Western literature, the idea of a lost paradise usually relates to the story in the Bible about Adam and Eve, God's first human creations. Eve was the original "bad girl" and Roberts is determined though her work to rescue Eve - to show that what she does is not so evil after all....

The Whole Woman

"The story of Adam and Eve; a woman is the one who introduces sin into world by being greedy and eating the fruit that God the father has forbidden her to eat. She gives it to her husband to eat, he eats it. As a result the two of them are cast out of paradise, and the punishment that Eve receives is to have very painful labour in childbirth.. to be cursed. What a terrible story. I therefore thought I'm going to tell this story differently, but I'm going to rescue Eve - not just by saying she was good, not bad, but by saying what's wrong about curiosity, why shouldn't a woman living in paradise, surrounded by beautiful trees full of the knowledge of good and evil, why shouldn't that woman indulge her sexual, sensual, intellectual curiosity and eat the apple because she wants to find out"
Michele Roberts

Roberts writes about women characters who are real and "whole" - neither all good or pure evil, but women who recognise the contradictions and differences in their own personalities.

life events
key influences and themes
Roberts' work
the next chapter
being a woman writer
  Women Writers
  Ama Ata Aidoo
  Meena Alexander
  Maya Angelou
  Shashi Deshpande
  Margaret Drabble
  Buchi Emecheta
  Jamaica Kincaid
  Doris Lessing
  Bharati Mukherjee
  Helen Simpson

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