Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

Ravishing

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To mark their thirtieth anniversary, the London Review of Books have made the whole of their latest issue available online. Which is nice. The LRB can be a bit hard work but this issue contains Daniel Soar on Sebastian Faulks’s “high-class bodice-rippers” which is good fun:

But if the women are special because they’re more modern than their surroundings, they also make Faulks’s readers feel special because they’re begging – or, more usually, ‘imploring’ (as in ‘her body, independent of her, implored his attention’) – to be made aware of things we know but they have yet to discover. They are attractively virginal, or effectively so, apparently innocent in a prelapsarian sort of way, but they aren’t the passively naive recipients of male attention that Mary (above) presents herself as being, with her ‘little sense’ of the effect her inverse filmy stuff might have on the ‘clothed man standing opposite’. They will their man to do to them what they want, or what he wants and they know – but don’t exactly know – that they want too. Sometimes, as in Birdsong, Faulks is happy to have his woman be the seemingly uneager quarry of a determined man (though being unlocked obviously changes her mind); but usually the heroine’s basic message is: ‘Ravish me.’ The man in Charlotte Gray, a Hurricane pilot with a roving eye and chicken legs, says, ‘You’re a very determined woman, Charlotte,’ after she makes it impossible for him not to have his way with her thanks to a stray movement of her hand. So if these women are the fantasies of a sensitive modern male, they are also autonomous enough, as fictional creations, to be fantasising into existence the very type of sensitive male who has created them. This is quite a metafictional trick.

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Written by Martin

31 October 2009 at 10:16

Posted in books, criticism

Tagged with ,

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