Looking for threesome penetrative Eros in a roomful of people? You won’t find it in the work of Anthony Burgess

Extract from Anthony Burgess’s Honey for the Bears: A Running Commentary by the writer’s second wife Liliana (‘Liana’) Macellari:

About the eroticism of Anthony Burgess, it is interesting to notice that we never find ‘penetrative Eros’ either in twosome, threesome or a roomful of people. Anthony is, more than reticent, endowed with what used to be called ‘Christian modesty’ (which is also, Muslim, Jewish Orthodox Fundamentalism and Hindu, be it said). The grosser form of the sexual act is, very effectively, either – and this is more often the case – suggested by sequences of rhythmical images, as in [Burgess’s 1966 novel] Tremor of Intent when Miss Devi’s seduces Rupert Hillier in his ship cabine and her initial seduction followed by his response are evoked in a splendidly rythmical crescendo (I’ve heard him [Burgess] read the pages aloud during a lecture given in Oklahoma or Denver), or, funnily and matter-of-factly, in a foreign language, as when, in a case of rape brought by Malay assistant against a small Chinese shopkeeper, her employer, while the prosecution goes on about ‘had he done this and he done that, and had there been any attempt to, shall we say, force his attention on her, and had he perhaps been importunate in demanding her favours’… The interpreter, having listened very patiently, just asks the girl, ‘Sudah masok?’ and she replies, quick as a flash, ‘Sudah.’

Penetrative Eros in threesome, Suzuki Harunobu, c. 1740

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