“Sex for [Leonard Cohen] is not just a pleasant pastime but also a spiritual adventure” Sexual Revelations In The Favourite Game

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

Leonard Cohen on His Treatment of Women in The Favourite Game

What about the argument that [Leonard Cohen] fails women [in The Favourite Game] by denying them their human personalities, setting them up as only goddesses?

I can’t see things that way either. I don’t think anybody has failed anybody else. It’s only when you walk around with a programme or a fixed ideology or a strategy that you really encounter failure in this respect.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Read Leonard Cohen’s exclusive interview with Hot Press from 1988 by Joe Jackson (Hot Press: 11 Nov 2016)

“As our eyes grow accustomed to sight they armor themselves against wonder.” The Favourite Game By Leonard Cohen

Seven to eleven is a huge chunk of life, full of dulling and forgetting. It is fabled that we slowly lose the gift of speech with animals, that birds no longer visit our windowsills to converse. As our eyes grow accustomed to sight they armor themselves against wonder.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen
The Favourite Game

Note: Originally posted February 13, 2009 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Watch Leonard Cohen Talk About The Favourite Game In 1963 CBC TV Interview


Playing The Favourite Game: CBC Youth Special with Paddy Springate and Stuart Smith (1963)

Leonard Cohen takes on reviewers and Canadian modesty in this 10 minute discussion of his “third novel disguised as a first novel.” He denies the accusation that the work  is autobiographical and defends the honesty of his protagonist: “My book may be lousy but it’s true.”

1988 Video: Leonard Cohen Talks About Lorca, His Favorite Color, Robertson Davies, I’m Your Man Cover Art, Poetry, Favourite Game … & Teaches Thumb Wrestling


This is a wonderful video that offers trivia, insights, entertainment (including a host flummoxed by Leonard Cohen’s unanticipated answers to her queries), and even a bit or two of wisdom. Specific items discussed include the following:

  • The origins and significance of the I’m Your Man album cover art
  • The meaning of “They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom for trying to change the system from within” in First We Take Manhattan
  • Leonard’s favorite color: Yellow
  • Leonard’s favorite writer: Robertson Davies1
  • The impact of Federico García Lorca on Leonard Cohen
  • Leonard’s favorite game: Thumb-wrestling (also see “Thumb Wrestling” section of The Favourite Games Of Leonard Cohen – Part 2)
  • The feelings embedded in The Favourite Game by Leonard Cohen
  • Leonard’s notion of the title “poet”
  • Leonard’s assertion that wisdom comes with laughter or a sense of entertainment (e.g., the Sermon on the Mount had to be expressed with drama)

Viewing The Video

The video cannot be embedded and, indeed, is difficult to locate. To find it, go to  VIDEO Leonard Cohen ”tommel-bryder” DR-vært under 1988-interview, a screenshot of which is shown below. The large video at the top comprises only the thumb-wrestling portion of the interview. To see the full interview, scroll down the page to the video marked by the red circle in the screenshot.



  1. A personal favorite of DrHGuy; see Elegant Eulogies: Robertson Davies On “The Great Theatre of Life” []