• CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeNov 16th 2008

    This thread is for discussions about Page 113 of the online edition of The Golden Notebook, and the readers' comments. Please show a courteous regard for the presence of other voices in the discussion. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.

    There is a Nadine Gordimer short story which is so similar to the story of George & the cook, but I had them blended in my mind until I read this here. I think that at this point of the novel everybody is blending into everybody else and formlessness or confusion is taking over.
    I'm a bit perplexed by Naomi's comment. Anna's statement is a reflection of the fact that one of the bases of great sex is that you take each other to places you've never gone before. Part of the thrill is to discover how to turn each other on. Just because Anna says she will learn from George, doesn't preclude George learning anything from her.
    Hey frida&diego. I see what you mean and I agree that having a good time in bed has to involve learning from one another, definitely! But Lessing doesn't frame it like that. She doesn't say, eg, "“I knew by instinct that if I went to bed with George we'd both learn a sexuality that we hadn’t come anywhere near yet.” The way Anna talks about George earlier in the chapter she seems to feel that he has some instinctive understanding about a kind of sex - raw, passionate, driven by male desire. She doesn't talk about herself as having any understanding of her own sexuality at all.

    I suppose this might well be a realistic portrayal of a woman reaching sexual maturity in the 1940s. Anna thought what she was supposed to think, that men were the 'owners' of sexual desire, that if she wasn't having sex or wasn't having enjoyable sex it was because she hadn't yet gone to bed with a man who was sufficiently animalistic and passionate. So I don't think that it's a false statement for its time, I just don't think it's true (or true anymore - probably some of how we experience sex has to do with our societal expectations.) I don't see anywhere so far in the novel evidence that Anna would feel she had things to teach George.
    I disagree with this sentence: 'I suppose this might well be a realistic portrayal of a woman reaching sexual maturity in the 1940s.' ????? What is 'sexual maturity'? Maybe you mean 'having sex for the first time(s)?' People develop and mature sexually all their lives. I also very much disagree that the sexual dynamic has changed much at all in the last 60 years, especially as the anti-feminist backlash has been pretty severe. I also disagree that Anna doesn't feel she has things to teach George. I think she is very complex character with more depth than you give her credit for, and a very quiet & steady kind of self-esteem. She's definitely aware of an attraction she feels for George, and the power this has over her, but I don't know anyone who hasn't felt this kind of attraction, and being able to recognize it is a mark of strength. I think --in regards to George -- she might be trying to say how sexual passions are heightened & distorted in the hoopla of wartime, also.