Joyce crafts a narrative of lost virginity — an encounter with a prostitute, no less — without reference to any body part below the neck. The knowledge that here is a boy visiting a brothel: that is our thesis.
Sublime Submission: A Novel of Erotic Triumph
His lip would not bend to kiss her. He wanted to be held firmly in her arms, to be caressed slowly, slowly, slowly. In her arms he felt that he had suddenly become strong and fearless and sure of himself. But his lips would not bend to kiss her. With a sudden movement she bowed his head and joined her lips to his and he read the meaning of her movements in the frank uplifted eyes. It was too much for him.
He closed his eyes, surrendering himself to her, body and mind, conscious of nothing in the world but the dark pressure of her softly parting lips. They pressed upon his brain as upon his lips as though they were a vehicle of a vague speech; and between them he felt an unknown and timid pressure, darker than the swoon of sin, softer than sound or odour. Like Joyce, he pens sex that is graphic, gladly displaying its warts and all. And like Joyce, he creates something beautiful. And already it was about to end. I pushed myself back on to my feet, I came out of him for a moment and tugged him back by his haunches, his arsehole glittered and twitched and I thrust straight in, then held it gently, barely moving in the gulping shivery limbo just before the end.
I stroked the inside of his thighs, stooped forward to lick and breathe the faint rubbery smell of his feet; took his cock out of his fist and worked it unyieldingly for him. It was all so easy. In the sexual kingdom, there is a first time for everything.
Some first times are less easy to spot than others because they occur in and through the very nothingness where we expect to see the stains and the pain of initiation but it makes them no less pivotal. She was standing in front of him self-confident, insolent, bathed in light, and astonished at her sudden discovery of the gestures, heretofore unknown to her, of a slow provocative striptease.
It would kill me. The student felt a mixture of despair and bliss.
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Eleven Minutes is brimming with breath-taking sex and it is this, the first foray into pleasure for both text and protagonist, that tips it into tantalising territory. How the clauses are drawn out as they approach and recede from that triumphant, one-word peak! How the narrator switches from active to passive to active to passive again as Maria takes control of her own submission!
Maria discovers the pleasure dormant in that gland: we glimpse the pleasure to come from Coelho. To her surprise, she noticed a small gland above her vagina. After a while, she began to enter a kind of paradise, the feelings grew in intensity, until she notice that she could no longer see or hear clearly, everything appeared to be tinged with yellow, and then she moaned with pleasure and had her first orgasm. It was like floating up to heaven and then parachuting slowly down to earth again.
Her body was drenched in sweat, but she felt complete, fulfilled and full of energy. I, therefore, have particularly vivid memories of the thoughts that steered me into scrupulous counting exercises every evening before I went to sleep.
I could never get to sleep until I had visualized these numerical problems one after the other. One of the problems related to the question of having several husbands.
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The book, of course, goes on to enumerate many, many lovers, including copious instances of group sex. By the early s, then, reducing the act to pure numbers, an unfolding list of unapologetic desires, was for a woman its own sensual pleasure. Often, the poet uses a list of objects to spark familiarity before shifting into a more ironic, mysterious tone. To a writer coming of age under Communism, the power to document and classify reality in this way was its own subversion. It is a symphony of multiplicity. Will your neck and spleen distend?
Will the rigorous contours of your stomach swell under an infertile load? Consisting of prose poems, Bluets is the more list-like. I have enjoyed telling people that I am writing a book about blue without actually doing it. Mostly what happens in such cases is that people give you stories or leads or gifts, and then you can play with these things instead of with words. Over the past decade I have been given blue inks, paintings, postcards, dyes, bracelets, rocks, precious stones, watercolors, pigments, paperweights, goblets, and candies.
I have been introduced to a man who had one of his front teeth replaced with lapis lazuli, solely because he loved the stone, and to another who worships blue so devoutly that he refuses to eat blue food and grows only blue and white flowers in his garden, which surrounds the blue ex-cathedral in which he lives. The parts exceed their sum if you are willing to learn, along with the author, how to assemble them.
In addition to more traditional scenes, the novel contains digressions like directions between places with estimated travel times, accounts of sensory attractions along those routes, and gravestone epitaphs. Daughter drag. Sister drag. Mother drag. Court drag. Rich drag. Poor drag. British drag.
Jamaican drag. Each required a different wardrobe. But when considering these various attitudes she struggled to think what would be the most authentic, or perhaps the least inauthentic.
To me, NW suggests that the jarring juxtapositions of such a disparate list may be the best path out of identity trouble and toward personal and erotic liberation. For example, an extensive list of chess players who died by suicide segues into something much darker:. Lists, particularly when they are read aloud, become salvos, each name a shot, the air trembles and shakes with the gunfire. Lists of the dead—the murdered—are direct and threatening. They beat out a staccato rhythm like a march, out of them speak the dead, saying Look at us.
They offer us their short lives, their faces, their passions and fears, the rooms in which they loved, their clothes, their books, their medical records. Chess, a game of liquidation, chess-playing liquidators, what irony.
Some lists are a call to action. Their desire is not for personal or sensual satisfaction but for change on a large scale. In her recent book of powerful essays, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground, Alicia Elliott uses lists to accost readers about their biases and complacencies. If so, how? Near the end of the essay, Elliott includes a list of the ways in which Canada has abused minorities, including Japanese-Canadians during World War II, the disabled, and trans people.