The Favorite Game by Ezra Glinter (Paris Review: September 19, 2014) is a thoughtful, well written consideration of Leonard Cohen’s perspective on sex, especially as demonstrated in his novel, The Favourite Game. The complete article is available at the link.
Yet it isn’t success with women that accounts for Cohen’s particular vision, even if his fame as a lover may have, over time, borne the fruits of self-fulfilling prophecy. Rather, his work is shot through with fears of physical deficiency and sexual deprivation, loneliness and insecurity. “He could not help thinking that … he wasn’t tall enough or straight, that people didn’t turn to look at him in street-cars, that he didn’t command the glory of the flesh,” he writes of his autobiographical protagonist in The Favorite Game. Decades later, in his 2006 poetry collection Book of Longing, Cohen confessed: “My reputation as a ladies’ man was a joke / that caused me to laugh bitterly / through the ten thousand nights / I spent alone.” This experience of rejection explains Cohen’s freeze-frame insight into intimacy. Scarcity, after all, translates into appreciation and appreciation into value. It transforms sex into something more than a bodily function. Along with his focus on physical passion, Cohen is known for his spiritual and religious themes, and for yoking them with the ecstasies of the flesh. Sex for him is not just a pleasant pastime but also a spiritual adventure, the key to life-defining emotions.
Note: Originally posted Sept 20, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric