|key influences and themes
One of the most significant themes in Roberts' work is the mother-daughter relationship.
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' 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
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"|
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.