He said that sex is so hard to write about because the “sublime” feeling of engaging in the act is way different to the undignified physical spectacle of actual lovemaking.
Banville, whose new novel ‘Ancient Light’ chronicles an affair between a 15-year-old boy and a 35-year-old woman, said that the lack of well-written sex scenes in novels is a “continuing problem”.
He said that difficulties arise because “what people feel they are doing is so discontinuous with what they are actually doing”.
“The spectacle of sex is never very dignified but when you are engaged in it seems transcendently sublime,” a major newspaper quoted Banville as saying.
“I am never quite sure what bad sex is. I am not sure I that have ever any bad sex. It has always seemed to me wonderful. I always felt incredibly lucky that a woman would consent to engage with me in this extraordinary act,” he said
The authors’ comments come as sales of erotic fiction soar due to the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey by E. L. James, which has sold over one million print copies.
Banville said that no author sets out to write about sex in a book. Rather, a sex scene in a book “arises from the situation, from the characters, from the plot”.
“It is not something you set out to do. It would go wrong. It wouldn’t work if one set out to write about it,” he said.
He said that erotic novels tend not to be “true and honest” because there is so much more to relationships than just sex.
However, he described the 1954 erotic novel ‘Story of O’ by Pauline Reage as a successful erotic book because its heroine, simply called as O, “has power”.