Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

ily

On Chesil Beach

Recommended Posts

ily

So, newish book from Ian McEwan...one of the main characters, Florence, is totally asexual. It's a really short book and I recommend checking it out. I just did a blog post about the book, which is here: http://theonepercentclub.blogspot.com/2007...esil-beach.html

I'm curious what other people think about it...

[/code]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bearded

I read this book a few months ago, so my memory is a bit hazy. I'm not convinced Florence is asexual, there are a few passages that seem to illustrate that she is, but there are also a couple of parts that seem to suggest some sort of abuse in her childhood that could be putting her off consumating her marriage at that time.

It is a nice read, worth taking a peek

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ily
I read this book a few months ago, so my memory is a bit hazy. I'm not convinced Florence is asexual, there are a few passages that seem to illustrate that she is, but there are also a couple of parts that seem to suggest some sort of abuse in her childhood that could be putting her off consumating her marriage at that time.

It is a nice read, worth taking a peek

Abuse, really? :shock: Sometimes I can be a bit slow in the nuances...where was that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bearded

Im not at my flat at the moment, so I'll have a look tonight. The passage(s) from what I can remember are very brief, and I looked out for them because they had been highlighted in a couple of book reviews. Because of this, maybe I have read too much into them myself?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ily
Im not at my flat at the moment, so I'll have a look tonight. The passage(s) from what I can remember are very brief, and I looked out for them because they had been highlighted in a couple of book reviews. Because of this, maybe I have read too much into them myself?

Maybe so... that *is* what people tend to tell As, that we must have been abused and all... :shock:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bearded

I had another look at the passages,

'As often happened when she had been away, her father aroused in her conflicting emotions. There were times when she found him physically repellent and she could hardly bear the sight of him - his gleaming baldness, his tiny white hands... She hated hearing his enthusiastic reports about the boat, the ridiculousy names Sugar Plum, which he kept down in Poole Harbour... He used to take her out with him, and several times, when she was twelve and thirteen, they crossed all the way to Carteret, near Cherbourg. They never talked about those trips, He had never asked her again, and she was glad. But sometimes, in a surge of protective feeling and guilty love, she would come up behind him where he sat and entwine her arms around his neck and kiss the top of his head and nuzzle him, liking his clean scent. She would do all this, then loathe herself for it later'.

'I also found one of the reviews, this is from Natasha Walter's review in the Guardian 31st March

Florence's family secrets are much less easily pinned down. Since this is a time in which sexual difficulties could not be referred to, McEwan never lays those secrets on the table. We have to follow their trail through glancing references and metaphors, and our desire to understand what her sense of shame stems from is never sated. While everything is going so horribly wrong for Florence's wedding night, something comes rising up from her childhood: "Here came the past, anyway, the indistinct past. It was the smell of the sea that summoned it. She was twelve years old, lying still like this, waiting, shivering in the narrow bunk with polished mahogany sides ... It was late in the evening, and her father was moving about the dim cramped cabin, undressing, like Edward now ... She was usually sick many times on the crossing, and of no use to her father as a sailor, and that surely was the source of her shame."

If there is another source of her shame, we realise that Florence will never be able to enunciate it. Whatever the "shameful secret locked in musty confinement" is, whose smell seems to erupt into the room later in the evening, it is not fully disclosed.'

Looking at the passages now, I think I have read too much into them, but I wonder if they are there to for this purpose? Leaving them aside, there does seem to be a lot of writing to indicate that Florence could be asexual, I wonder if this was intended by McEwan?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
iff

i finished chesil beach in september and i deffinately felt that florence was asexual after reading it

to me, the quote as posted to Ily's blog from page 187

"Not only am I no good at [sex], I don't seem to need it like other people, like you do. It just isn't something that's part of me. I don't like it, I don't like the thought of it. I have no idea why that is, but I think it isn't going to change."-- pg. 187
was when felt that she was asexual

i got no impression of any type of childhood abuse to florence from reading it

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bearded

When I finished the book, I had to go back to those passages a few more times, because, even now, I'm not sure if it seems to point to something. When I use the term abuse, it could be subtle emotional abuse, choice words made to make Florence feel bad, over a sustained period of time.
I think it is a good book to look at because I think the themes about communication, interpretation and expectation are relevant even though society is more openly sexual.

----------------
added later,
I did find these on a discussion board on ianmcewan.com,
http://www.voy.com/109204/1485.html 2015 Edit: New link

http://www.voy.com/109204/1372.html

There is an interview, the New York Times Podcast from June 2007
http://podcasts.nytimes.com/podcasts/2007/...2bookupdate.mp3
He says the 'dread' she feels is a mix of bad childhood experiences and also just 'who she is'. So there is scope that Florence could be asexual, but also has a number of issues to address.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Elf people

Yep. sorry folks; I just opened up a new thread on that I haven't been here a while but since I read Chesil Beach I wanted to ask you guys what you thought.

I identified completely with Florence in so far as the revulsion goes. I've even offered the exact same bargain twice-both times were met with the classic 'good guy tactic' -I don't want it with anyone else, it's only beautiful with the feelings.

blach. euwww.

and a complete lie at that.

but anyhow, great minds think alike. I just didn't know this thread already existed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jean Grey

If you want to let Ian McEwan know what you thought about his treatment of asexuality in the book (from the author's homepage):

"If you would like to write to Ian McEwan, please use one of the following addresses:

Ian McEwan

c/o Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd

20 Powis Mews

London W11 1JN

Ian McEwan

c/o Jonathan Cape Publicity Department

Random House

20 Vauxhall Bridge Road

London SW1V 2SA

Ian McEwan

c/o Nan A. Talese Publicity

1745 Broadway

New York, NY 10019

Email via this website:

http://www.randomhouse.com/nanatalese/authoremail.html "

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Haunter

Is Ian McEwan asexual, 'cause if he's not, it is kind of unusual for him to be writing books about the feelings asexuals have...? I wouldn't really adventure writing a book in which to describe the feelings of a homosexual, 'cause I don't know them as I'm not gay.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
iff
Is Ian McEwan asexual, 'cause if he's not, it is kind of unusual for him to be writing books about the feelings asexuals have...? I wouldn't really adventure writing a book in which to describe the feelings of a homosexual, 'cause I don't know them as I'm not gay.

well, this is not to say he isnt asexual but , according to wikipaedia, he's been married twice and does have atleast 2 kids.

of course, i know that some asexuals do have kids and some are married

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mdw
and a complete lie at that.

Except for the tiny detail that it's usually not. There is more involved in wanting to have sex with someone than just the base physical desire. Many of us know people who'll "[screw] anything that walks." For the most part those are reprehensible people, worthy to be loathed. Part of the reason that the compromise of having sex with other people is unsavory is the innate fear that we will turn into one of those horrible people, hating ourselves for it, and hated by our partner because we are no longer the person we once were.

There's also the tiny detail that for most of us, physical and emotional are intertwined. while the asexual in a relationship would worry that the emotional attachment leads to physical desire (as happens quite often), the sexual in a relationship would worry that being physically intimate with someone outside the relationship would lead to emotional infidelity, and cause a breakdown of the relationship.

Those two factors lead to this path being just as difficult for the sexual as the asexual, respect and communication is required by both parties if there is to be any hope of success, especially in a relationship where the sexual does not want to go outside the relationship for sex (because of the above factors), and where the asexual has tried this in the past anyway and discovered that while there is no sexual attraction, the thought of their partner being sexually intimate with someone else causes great feelings of jealousy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
oeko

Love McEwan... :blush:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mala

I just finished this book, and I felt like Florence was more anti-sexual than anything else. My understanding is that an asexual does not desire sex and does not benefit from it, and this woman was far more melodramatic about it than that.

The way McEwan wrote about sex in general bothered me. The OP mentioned one bit in her blog post--when Edward talks about her "naturally-formed cavity" in a sort of poetic way. Who does this? It seems like Edward's ideas about sex might have been unrealistic (or just indicative of someone who had desired it adamantly but had no actual experience), which really only worsened the situation. It's lucky that Edward never shared those awkward and crass thoughts with Florence (from what I can recall).

Someone who responded to the OP's blog post had read that McEwan meant for Florence to have been abused, but wanted it to be implicit in the novel, not a focal point. I guess it was so implicit that I didn't pick it up. However, I really think it would explain some things. I just thought of her as extremely dramatic, compared to someone who simply isn't sexual and that is part of his or her identity.

(Wow...I'm responding to an old thread!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ily

I agree that the characters were a little melodramatic. They needed to just take a step back and laugh about it. But I guess anyone can be like that, sexual or asexual.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.