I am re-reading Stendhal's The Red And The Black, but in English. Joe is re-reading it in French. Decisions were made independently. I'd forgotten what a comic (yet tragic) character Julien Sorel is, also French/English attitudes when writing about sex in the 19th century.
Stendhal (1783 - 1842) - pictured - was born earlier than Dickens (1812 - 1870) yet you wouldn't know it if you compared R&B (1830) with what I've always thought of as Dickens' greatest novel, Bleak House (1852). I'll spare your blushes on the matter of sexual detail but Stendhal leaves you in no doubt about what has happened during the first great seduction, even if he stops well short of the wearisomely sweaty passages in present-day bonkbusters. Dickens, if my imagination serves me, would have sidled into metaphor for the same scene.
I blame Jane Austen (1775 - 1817) who writes about characters "making love". It is clear the phrase has lost something (rather, gained something) over the years.
A TOUGH CALL VR has just finished listening to my 22-CD set of Jim Norton reading the complete Ulysses and has also downloaded the novel to her Kindle for another day. Amazon, eternally egregious, asks her to rate Ulysses as good or bad. Laughing, she asks me. Sternly I tell her she must make up her own mind.
WIP Second Hand (49,426 words – so clo-o-se to 50,000)
A man wearing a Liberty tie that counterpointed his dark, hip-conscious suit (said). “And now you all know how far Derbyshire is from London. Yes folks, Palatewise is out in the sticks… We’re undeniably provincial. But in our business, provincial is good, provincial-rural even better. Carbon monoxide levels here are fifty percent lower than in Whitehall, particulates even lower.