Saturday, March 1, 2008

The erotic of the everyday

I've mentioned before how I like the hidden eroticism of everyday life--particularly useful if you're writing books set in a time where the appearance of propriety was more important than propriety itself. I came upon this splendid picture a few days ago, Cookmaid with Still Life of Vegetables by Sir Nathaniel Bacon, c. 1620-25. It is altogether rather odd. (The perspective is very strange. Why the gigantic cabbages in the foreground? They have to be three feet tall.)

And the, uh, blatant symbolism of the uh, big melons. For at least a couple of centuries, portraits of women at work, particularly in kitchens and surrounded by fecund heaps of produce and game, had great erotic significance. If she displayed a melon, she could display her own; if she could peel a carrot, she might peel his.

Here's a short excerpt from an earlier version of Forbidden Shores, an example of the erotic of the everyday, the everyday item in this case being a pair of gloves which Allen has lent Clarissa:

Oh, the poor young man. Such a shame, after he’d tried so hard to impress her. Clarissa cradled Mr. Pendale’s head in her lap, gingerly exploring the rising lump on his scalp. His gloves lay somewhere among her skirts. She had removed them with some reluctance, after savoring the secret warmth of the silk and leather, the heat all the more enjoyable for having been rendered by a male, and a stranger. The intimacy of his gesture and her enjoyment of her fingers being where his had lain gave her a definitely indecent pleasure. As did her exploration of his head, warm and heavy in her lap. He groaned. His eyelashes, long and dark, fluttered against his cheeks.

She resisted an impulse to touch his face, her fingers itching once again for that pleasurable roughness. Had they not been surrounded by a cluster of interested kitchen staff, she might have risked it.

Thoughts?

5 comments:

Celia May Hart said...

Attempt #2 to post.

How did I know it was you posting, Jane, when I saw the picture? That girl sure has big melons!

Kate Pearce said...

I loved this picture it was so vivid it made me want to cook something!

Pam Rosenthal said...

I love the picture and I also love the excerpt -- my only difficulties with the prose being my inability to stop imagining this or that witless gatekeeper wanting you to make it "sexier". Fie!

Georgie Lee said...

I enjoyed the post. People don't always realize just how sexual artists could be. The painter really draws the viewers eyes to melons.

littlelamblst said...

The picture you posted is wonderful and the excerpt was evocative.