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Quotes

Quote #1

For a man of his age, fifty-two, divorced, he has, to his mind, solved the problem of sex rather well. On Thursday afternoons he drives to Green Point. Punctually at two p.m. he presses the buzzer at the entrance to Windsor Mansions, speaks his name, and enters. Waiting for him at the door of No. 113 is Soraya. (1.1)

What a way to begin a book. This quote gives us two ways to look at David's sex life at the beginning of the novel. We see that sex has been a "problem" for David, and that he's "solved" it by getting into a regimen of visiting a prostitute. Doesn't it make it seem that, at this point, sex for David is sort of like brushing his teeth or doing the dishes? It's something that has to be done on a schedule. Doesn't it make sex seem, well, not so sexy?

Quote #2

In the field of sex his temperament, though intense, has never been passionate. Were he to choose a totem, it would be the snake. Intercourse between Soraya and himself must be, he imagines, rather like the copulation of snakes: lengthy, absorbed, but rather abstract, rather dry, even at its hottest. (1.11)

So, here we have an abstract way of saying that even when David has hot sex it's missing something – namely, passion for the other person. Here the narrator compares David's sex life to the reproduction of reptiles. Again, it's kind of something that needs to be done to satisfy a biological need but that doesn't come from feelings or love or even lust.

Quote #3

He thinks of Emma Bovary, coming home sated, glazen-eyed, from an afternoon of reckless fucking. So this is bliss!, says Emma, marveling at herself in the mirror. So this is the bliss the poets speak of! Well, if poor ghostly Emma were ever to find her way to Cape Town, he would bring her along one Thursday afternoon to show her what bliss can be: a moderate bliss, a moderated bliss. (1.26)

Here, David wants to show one of the great lovers in literature – someone who knows hot sex – that sex doesn't have to be hot. It can be boring. What a boring, academic way to make a boring point about boring sex. Good one, David.

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