Saturday, 17 October 2009

Sex and the Novel

The Manchester Literature Festival opened this week with a rather tame discussion on sex and the novel featuring Will Self and Martin Amis. Amis pondered the sexual aspects of novels by George Eliot and Jane Austen as if mugging up for an exam, and there was much discussion of Lolita. A shame he didn't talk about his own writing at all. Self was sharp as ever, talking about J.G. Ballard's 'death of affect'. He was scornful of so-called 'transgressive literature' in an age where, as he put it, you can get porn in every hotel room. Good for him - academics get very excited about such things, but honestly, it would be more daring to write a conference paper about an unfashionable writer like Somerset Maugham than deliver something on coprophilic websites. Is sex like writing? Hmm. Maybe. If you can keep your eyes closed.

I'm introducing Chris Beckett and James Lasdun at a festival reading on the 24th. Should be interesting. What is it about Lasdun's work that's so much like Maupassant?


  1. Yes, I agree. And Maugham is actually a better and more interesting writer than many give him credit for, I feel. You're doing well if you can write with your eyes closed...

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