A Thumb Down on Sex

Anything British novelist Martin Amis writes is bound to be brilliant expression. And his comment on a new collection of British poet Philip Larkin’s letters is not only an excellent read in this weekend’s Australia Review, it reveals much about Larkin’s cryptic sex life in a rivetting manner.

In Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica, edited by Anthony Thwaite and published by Faber, Larkin wraps up his disillusionment with intercourse in just  one quote:

“I think…someone might do a little research on some of the inherent qualities of sex – its cruelty, its bullyingness, for instance.  It seems  to me that bending someone else to your will is the very stuff of sex, by force or neglect if you are male, by spitefulness or nagging or scenes if you are female.  And what’s more, both sides would sooner have it that way than not at all.  I wouldn’t.  And I suspect that means not that I can enjoy sex in my own quiet way but that I can’t enjoy it at all.  It’s like rugby football: either you like kicking and being kicked, or your soul cringes away from the whole affair.  There’s no way of quietly enjoying rugby football.”

Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica will be released in Australia in January through Allen & Unwin.

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