Okay. Several people who shall remain un-named (*cough* skeetermonkey, stillsostrange *cough*) challenged me to back up my assertion that the sex scene in Young Will was really as bad as all that.
I'm going to do them one better. A Real People Slash Trifecta! I'm going to throw in some smut from Anthony Burgess' A Dead Man in Deptford and--to prove that I won't expose anybody else to ridicule I'm not willing to face myself--an equally out-of-context chunk of my own The Stratford Man. WHICH I will put after the Burgess passage, so you can get the full effect of how much he kicks my ass.
(Although no, you can't have the Tom Walsingham/Ben Jonson/William Shakespeare threesome, and I'll tell you right now that any smut involving Edward De Vere takes place safely offstage. Because even I can't stomach that....)
Because Bruce and Anthony are dead, and can't defend themselves.....
1) Bruce Cook, Young Will: The Very Long Title pp 175-177 (quoted under fair use, etc etc)
Now, because I am lazy, please note that I am not actually starting this scene where I should for its full facepalm value, in the Elizabethan molly-bar. (cheshyre and angevin2 just has twin myocardial infarctions, and truepenny and skeetermonkey are bringing up the train with a burst blood vessel and a fit of the vapors, respectively. But what's two hundred years of queer history between friends?)
For context, also, it's important to note that this is supposed to be a first encounter between two people who have just more or less fallen in love across a crowded room, a read that's enforced by the first-person narrator (Shakespeare) quoting a rather infamous line of verse of Master Marlowe's, which Shakespeare later used--attributed, directly ["dead shepherd, now I find your saw of might--"] in As You Like It.
literary victims: Will Shakespeare (POV) and Kit Marlowe
He took the book from my hand and replaced it upon the shelf.
"Later, perhaps," said he. "Afterward."
"Afterward? After what?"
"After we have disported ourselves."
And so saying, he eased me back in the direction of the bed and began to undress me.
To judge from the moans of pleasure and pain (at times much the same thing) that issued from us both that evening, I did not disappoint. Yet each time we couple in the year to come--and such occasions were abundant--I could not avoid a sense of uneasiness, a fear that I might not come up to his expectations.
Why was I so eager to please? Why should I have felt such a burden?
A good question, that, one that has troubled me these many years. To this day I can see him well in my mind's eye, and sooth I know him to be less comely than I. Slight of body and weak of countenance, Christopher Marlowe was the sort you would not notice in a crowded room. Let him stand close, however, and you would be instantly in his thrall. What was it held you? His eyes, first of all, for they were a deep, dark brown and could, it seemed, peer deep within those of another; with thise eyes he could, as a matter if will, stare for minutes at a time without blinking (proof, some say, of madness). His voice, too, was like unto none other. Soft and deep it was and lulling in tone, so that when at last we had done with our sport, and he first began speaking at length, the low humming sound of his voice near put me to sleep. It was not what he said, but rather how he said it which brought me so near. For much of what he said did seem to me at first as errant nonsense.
We had wrestled together for at least an hour, or so it seemed to me, when at last he heaved a great sigh and rolled off me, completely spent. He relaxed, yet I dared not: I ran to the chamber pot. As I returned, I found Kit sitting up and drinking deep from a bottle of brandy he had fetched from some dark corner of the room. Once done, he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and passed the bottle to me.
"You're stronger than you look, Will," said he.
"Often it is so with country boys like me." I took but a single swig and handed the bottle back half full.
"You bucked so beneath me I thought I'd never get you tamed."
"What makes you think you succeeded?"
To that he did not reply but chuckled merely in a manner most pleased and gulped thrice more from the bottle--and then drank again. Then, without reason or proper occasion, his drooping eyes did suddenly go wide and a shout came from him of a sort that might be heard three houses away.
*pauses to gulp scotch and regroup* (arcaedia, mcurry, I couldn't have done this without the Bunnicula.)
*rummages through the Burgess for a suitably smutty passage*
1) Anthony Burgess, A Dead Man in Deptford pp 49-50 (quoted under fair use, etc etc)
literary victims: Kit Marlowe and Tom Walsingham, who have just met in Paris, having been on different ends of a mission for Sir Francis Walsingham, spymaster to the queen. (POV is first person omniscient. Yeah, I know. Ye gods and little fishies, I love this book)
Nonstandard dialogue punctuation sic. Kit speaks first.
--It's not the kind of logic they teach at Cambridge. It seems not merely illogical, but monstrous.
--It is what they call statecraft. Tom Watson said you were shouting about the greatness of Machiavel in some eating house or other. Well, here you shall see Machiavel in action. What is imported from Italy is not all saints and madonnas. Shall we go?
--Oh Kit Kit Kit, you know where. To my inn and my room, whether the bed be made or not, with the door locked and our linen off for the heat. There are no spying eyes of London here. I could see in your gaze that day what you wanted, all hidden under your fine talk of Plato and Petronius.
--I never mentioned Petronius.
--No? It must have been somebody else and other.
He carelessly threw coins on the table and rose. There was a fever in Kit, he had lost voice and was panting. They walked together past the great brooding monster of the cathedral where kings had been crowned, round the corner to the rue des Boulangeres or some such name, and at the end was an inn with no sign but flowers of the season in pots on its stills. And they mounted to find Frizer bed-making. Walsingham said he might leave that, there were urgencies between Mr Kit here and himself, let him take a cool glass of something somewhere and brood on the infamy of false religion, here are foreign coins which are here not foreign.
Well, it is not my purpose to describe the acts performed since they are enough known. Oscula, oscula, engagement of light beards and oscula oscula elsewhere, amplexus, complexus, and also sugere of this and that, and then interjectus and also insertio and great clamores gaudii, laetitiae, voluptatis. Two young and naked men, the unchanging under faith and thought, yet not of the cycle, threshing, making the bed shake, dislodging with a thrust ecstatic foot a pot with flowers of the season from its stand, so that dancing soles became wet and empetalled. Walsingham wrenched the lower sheet from its moorings that they might wipe off the sweat they had not lapped. They lay on the pallaisse breathing like achieved runners, and Kit looked up at the ceiling to see if God's head would poke through. But God lay indifferent in his shrine, converted to bread. Walsingham, now merely a Tom, another to clog our narrative, was spread on the bed snoring. Kit testiculis basia dedit and dressed. He had said he would attend a lecture.
A poet, he knew the difficulties of that word love, which meant too many things for any man's comfort, but it was the one word that sprang from the heaven of release and he must regard it with the care he had given to the abstruse terms of the schoolmen. Love was the lyric cry of desire and then release and gratitude for release; should it not rather be the expression in frigid sobriety of the awareness of mingling of souls, and yet what of soul did Tom Walsingham possess?
Damn, I wish I could write like that.
What's striking to me is that the situations here are exactly equivalent. We have two young men who have met and ostensibly fallen in love, and one of them is going to eventually, inevitably destroy the other. One of these writers knows what he is doing. The other... can't even quite keep his line of direction straight.
...bad choice of word. Sorry.
Okay, I haven't got an equivalent scene in The Stratford Man. Sorry. What I can give you is this: a scene in which Master Marlowe, recently murdered, finds himself in Faerie, at the tender mercies of a mother and son team who will be troubling him for quite some time to come. I can't give you the sex scene that will inevitably lead to Master Marlowe's death, because TSM starts on May 30th, 1593. But I can get you the first one after he dies. *g*
Mine has het in it. Oh Noes!
To complete Kit's disgrace, Murchaud had to carry him back up the stairs to Morgan's chamber. The knight took his leave, and Morgan stripped Kit over feeble protests and placed him in bed. Sometime before morning, she drew the thick hangings back and crawled under the coverlet, and he found to his delight that a little rest had restored him more than he'd expected.
There was something to be said for living after all, and for being alive, and for the simple joy of a woman who threaded strong hands through his hair, and touched the seamed white scar across his face as if it were merely another thing to be caressed--like his nose, his ears, the lower lip she nibbled into silence when he would have whispered fair words in her ear.
She left again by dawn, wriggling from under his arm, and though he lifted his head to see her slip through the door, he did not turn when the door re-opened and he thought she returned. A warm body slid beside him as he drowsed. He startled from sleep to wakefulness in a moment, stifling a cry; the hands on his shoulders were dry and callused with bladeplay, big enough to close a circle around his upper arm, and the lips that touched his throat and the teeth that caught at his skin were framed with a tickling rasp of beard.
A flutter of breath trickled through his teeth. He forced the words to follow it. "I'm unfit for wrestling, Sir Knight--"
Murchaud chuckled, his mouth growing bolder as his long hands tightened on Kit's shoulders, around Kit's chest. "Come, come, Sir Poet," he answered. "I'm understanding of your plight. Needs do nothing but sigh just like that, and I shall see your sighs well answered on this morn."
ETA: Additional commentary on Tamburlaine Must Die and Mignon. Because I care.
- Current Mood: mischievous
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