The Tournament of Literary Sex Writing: Jean Genet vs. Jeanette Winterson
Judge Naomi Jackson Picks a Winner!
Our Lady of the Flowers, Jean Genet
Divine and Darling. To my mind, they are the ideal pair of lovers. From my evil-smelling hole, beneath the coarse wool of the covers, with my nose in the sweat and my eyes wide open, alone with them, I see them.
Darling is a giant whose curved feet cover half the globe as he stands with his legs apart in baggy, sky-blue silk underpants. He rams it in. So hard and calmly that anuses and vaginas slip on to his member like rings on a finger. He rams it in. So hard and calmly that his virility, observed by the heavens, has the penetrating force of the battalions of blond warriors who on June 14th 1940 buggered us soberly and seriously, though their eyes were elsewhere as they marched in the dust and sun. But they are the image of only the tensed, buttressed Darling. Their granite prevents them from being slithering pimps.
I close my eyes. Divine: a thousand shapes, charming in their grace, emerge from my eyes, mouth, elbows, knees, from all parts of me. They say to me, “Jean, how glad I am to be living as Divine and to be living with Darling.”
I close my eyes. Divine and Darling. To Darling, Divine is barely a pretext, an occasion. If he thought of her, he would shrug his shoulders to shake off the thought, as if the thought were a clawed dragon clinging to his back. But to Divine, Darling is everything. She takes care of his penis. She caresses it with the most profuse tenderness and calls it by the kind of pet-names used by ordinary folk when they feel horny. Such expressions as Little Dicky, the Babe in the Cradle, Jesus in His Manger, the Hot Little Chap, your Baby Brother, without her formulating them, take on full meaning. Her feeling accepts them literally. Darling’s penis is in itself all of Darling: the object of her pure luxury, an object of pure luxury. If Divine is willing to see in her man anything other than a hot and purplish cock, it is because she can follow its stiffness, which goes as far as the anus, and can sense that it goes farther into his body, that it is this very body of Darling erect and ending in a pale, tired face, a face of eyes, nose, mouth, flat cheeks, curly hair, beads of sweat.
Written on the Body, Jeanette Winterson (1993)
She arches her body like a cat on a stretch. She nuzzles her cunt into my face like a filly at the gate. She smells of the sea. She smells of rockpools when I was a child. She keeps a starfish in there. I crouch down to taste the salt, to run my fingers around the rim. She opens and shuts like a sea anemone. She’s refilled each day with fresh tides of longing.
JUDGE NAOMI JACKSON DECLARES:
Jeanette Winterson is one of my favorite writers of lesbian desire, and this excerpt proves why I return to Written on the Body again and again. What more can we want from a lover than to fill each new day with “fresh tides of longing”? And don’t we all wish we had sex organs (or access to a lover’s) capacious enough to carry a starfish?
WINNER: Jeanette Winterson!