“Rules of wine-makers”
“Rules of wine-makers” is a book that has become one of the components of the worldwide success and recognition of John Irving. Critics noted that the writer chose not the most successful title for his novel, losing a share of commercial appeal. The literal translation of the title of the book from English sounds like “Rules of the house of cider”, in some versions this name is used, but for us it has become much more familiar version of “rules of wine makers”. So what are these rules, and what does the winemakers have to do with it?
About the rules in the book “rules of winemakers»
The rules listed in the title are just a small set of instructions that are posted annually in the cider house for seasonal workers who live there. Already familiar to himself, Irving places a cider house in Maine, not far from the ocean coast. One of the rules is: “Don’t use the press if you’ve been drinking.” The rest of the rules are written in the same spirit, in order to maintain order and discipline in the ranks of illiterate workers from the southern States. But all these instructions are ignored in one way or another. The fact is that seasonal workers have their own rules, which they follow with greater diligence and servility. One of the main rules of employees concerns fights with knives. You can cut your opponent enough to end the fight, but in no case should they be taken to the hospital, and even more so should the law enforcement officers find out about it. Naturally, knifing in the” rules of wine ” is found in abundance.
A similar set of rules is found in other communities that Irving introduces in his work. In the early 20th century, laws in America prohibited abortions. But at an orphanage in the town of St. Cloud, Dr. Cedar follows his own rules. He believes that no one can force a woman to have a child if she doesn’t want to. That is why, in addition to his duties as a shelter Manager, he also performed such “dark” medical cases as abortions.
Features of the work
Perhaps it is worth noting that John Irving attributes his own rules to each society. But true heroism lies in the ability to discover the real, “truthful” rules, whether they are attached to the wall or cut out with a scalpel blade, and strictly adhere to them, no matter what. To his favorite pupil, Homer Boer, Dr. Cedar wrote the following: “How can you reserve the right to choose if so many women do not have the freedom to choose for themselves?”
And it is in such details that “the rules of wine-makers” differs from other works by John Irving, in particular “Life through the eyes of GARP” or “a Prayer for Owen Meany”. Readers of his other works will probably agree that Irving’s works often feature a sprawling background, ambivalent meaning, and elements of mysticism and absurdity, but in the case Of “rules of wine”, he greatly simplified his usual form.
In contrast to the above-mentioned works, in the “rules of wine-makers” you will not find “Jesus-like” babies predicting their own death, you will also not find any obsession with sex and regular rape (however, to a certain extent, such occur in this work). But John Irving does not relinquish his absurdity; on the contrary, his absurdity reaches new heights in this book. An insanely eccentric couple of foster parents while swimming in a mountain river die under raft logs. A lobster farmer who happens to be interested in missiles gets blown up while building a homemade projectile. And the book is full of such elements.
Yet the familiar elements of the macabre, the absurd, and the illogical look more controlled, giving the impression that Irving is quite logically leading to the climax and its logical conclusion. The same can be said of the author’s penchant for sentimentality, for aphoristic statements, and for light humor. It’s as if he decided to stop pretending to be anything other than a realist, and in the end, devoted all the strengths and weaknesses of the novel to this particular ending. But it often happens that writers personally hold a radically different point of view than critics and their readers. This is what happened to Irving. About his work, he said something like this: “I believe in consistent storytelling. I am not an experimental writer. I am a writer who tells stories about victims.”