Zadie Smith (On Beauty)

In her novel On Beauty, Zadie Smith writes

“Victoria herself, flush with the social and sexual successes of her first summer abroad without her family, returned home to find a tolerable young man, weighed down by his virginity and satisfyingly unmanned by his desire for her.”

This is an interesting articulation of that unfortunate phenomenon: Male desire itself diminishes female desire (while the reverse is not true). Male desire, thus, must be either limited to begin with or its expression controlled – if it is to be reciprocated.

Note further that the boy in this story (Jerome) is not merely “unmanned by his desire”, but “satisfyingly” so – suggesting that his desire for her quenched her desire for him: his desire alone satisfied her. Victoria is a generous human being and proceeds to pity-fuck Jerome, who falls first in love (dreaming of marriage) and then into depression when she ends the affair.

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One Response to “Zadie Smith (On Beauty)”

  1. 11minutes Says:

    Nice find!

    The only thing to add is that “romance” for women consists of achieving signs of desire by a man who seemed unattainable.

    This is the very basis of cheesy songs, poems, chic flics and chic lit.

    In other words, once a woman believes that you do not desire her while she desires you, dropping a hint of affection can do wonders.

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