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subtle hints of sex in classic literature

subtle hints of sex in classic literature
December 14, 2010, 08:54:58 AM
I have been reading, "Possessed", by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, which is a work of genius and I recommend it; my favorite character being Pyotor Stepanovich who charms and manipulates an influential family to cause havoc in the aristocracy.  Anyways, this is not just a topic on this one book, but in many classics and the use of subtle hints of sex.  In this particular book though, if you may, you can skim through this http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/d/dostoyevsky/d72p/chapter18.html, if you don't mind mild spoilers, to look at very subtle hints but obvious hints of sex.  Sometimes when reading classic literature, you can second guess yourself, but then if you look deeper and feel your first reaction, you will understand that it is actually right.  I find this interesting and worth posting about because it seems compared to more modern literature, it is deeper and more in-depth, reaches to your core; but that may be just Dostoyevsky.  Anways, to conclude this topic and not ramble, if you read a classic book, and you come across a segment that brings any sex to your mind, even though it is not explicit or obvious, it is most likely true, and also has more of an effect on the reader.  I also would enjoy some opinions and your knowledge on this topic. Good day

Re: subtle hints of sex in classic literature
December 16, 2010, 09:46:40 AM
That book was awesome, I basically skipped everything I had to do in those days and I only thought about going home and finishing the novel. I don't know what version you are reading, but there are some obvious hints of child sexual abuse in the last chapter (which is Stavroghin's confession and subsequent motive for his fate). That is more than obvious and one of the most shocking moments in literature I have ever encountered.
In fact, the whole novel blew me to pieces, and the characters are quite surreal. Still, I can't understand how you can sympathize with Verhovenski, that genuinely soulless man (have you finished the novel?), the ironic caricature of Necheaev.
In Dostoyevsky's novels, it's clearly not necessary to go into stupid physical details (I remember I once read a chart of the worst descriptions of sex in literature), since most of them are just the battleground of hard-to-stomach ideas. There are still alot of other books in classical literature with hints of sexual scenes, but they are just like the Hollywood movies of the '50s - they kiss and ... skipping to the next chapter :D

Re: subtle hints of sex in classic literature
December 16, 2010, 10:56:22 AM
There's a great deal of it in The Brothers Karamazov, his most Shakespearean work. The only time it is explicitly mentioned is whenever the narrator is discussing the repercussions, though.

Nietzsche was enamored with The Possessed; he claimed that Dostoevsky was the happiest discovery of his life since Stendhal, and that he was the only psychologist from whom he had anything to learn. I feel that he was correct in his evaluation. Consider the following aphorisms spoken by Father Zosima, and then compare them to the concept of 'amor fati' as explicated in The Gay Science, or to the Amen Song from Thus Spake Zarathustra:
My brother asked the birds to forgive him; that sounds senseless, but it is right; for all is like an ocean, all is flowing and blending; a touch in one place sets up movement at the other end of the earth. It may be senseless to beg forgiveness of the birds, but birds would be happier at your side-a little happier, anyway-and children and all animals, if you yourself were nobler than your are now. It's all like an ocean, I tell you. pg. 294

Love all God's creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God's light. Love all the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything you will perceive the divine mystery of things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.pg. 294

Fathers and teachers, I ponder "What is hell?" I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love. pg. 297

Kiss the earth and love it with an unceasing, consuming love. Love all men, love everything. Seek that rapture and ecstasy. pg. 297

 

Re: subtle hints of sex in classic literature
December 16, 2010, 07:26:17 PM
Actually, I also believe there are hints that Stepan Trofimovich molested Shatov when he was his tutor; the hints were very peculiar and their "close" relationship.  Pyotor was my favorite character, mainly because of his skill of manipulation and his cold calculating decisions; he could have went very high in society but instead chose to crush it.  Dostoevsky's use of realism is almost over-whelming, its like he's bashing you in the face with his literature over and over again and you can't help but ask for more, no romanticism what-so-ever.

 

Re: subtle hints of sex in classic literature
December 16, 2010, 07:38:19 PM
Actually, I also believe there are hints that Stepan Trofimovich molested Shatov when he was his tutor; the hints were very peculiar and their "close" relationship.  Pyotor was my favorite character, mainly because of his skill of manipulation and his cold calculating decisions; he could have went very high in society but instead chose to crush it.  Dostoevsky's use of realism is almost over-whelming, its like he's bashing you in the face with his literature over and over again and you can't help but ask for more, no romanticism what-so-ever.

 
Who was your favorite brother in TBK? I liked Ivan a good deal, even if he is a delirious, passive aggressive lout.

Re: subtle hints of sex in classic literature
April 03, 2012, 01:46:34 PM
Sorry for gravedigging but here's some essential reading for any nihilist:

Flannery O’Connor - Good Country People (don't be scared, it's a short story :)

The part where Mrs. Freeman is talking about her daughters has suggestive undertones.

Re: subtle hints of sex in classic literature
April 05, 2012, 06:29:48 AM
Old literature was much more subtle in all ways. Its audience was upper middle class, they were educated by real colleges and not the paint-by-numbers shit we have now. They did not need to see the piston penis and gaping vagina to figure out what was going on. As I think about it that sounds like a better time, more graceful.