Monday 1 June 2020
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theguardian - 10 days ago

Look, don t touch: what great literature can teach us about love with no contact

With our increased physical distance from each other, novels about forbidden touch and longing are more seductive than ever In our time of social distancing, the desire for physical contact has never been so intense. And yet we are untouchable. This experience has had its more conspicuous consequences, such as the government scientist Neil Ferguson breaking his own rules to meet his lover during lockdown. This notion of forbidden touch, unique and even shocking as it may be to us, has a multitude of echoes in literature. Cultural constraints and taboos on touch are reflected, overturned or used for dramatic purposes by writers throughout history, and our own bookshelves are newly rich with the comfort of identification. Who would have ever guessed that the plague-ridden, the apocalyptic or the edicts of Victorian England would have quite such resonance?The sensual is, of course, as much enhanced by restraint as diminished by it, and the whole canon of forbidden, throbbing longing in literature contains particular potency in the present. Often by necessity, desire is all, and consummation, if it ever happens, can be secondary in impact to the distanced gazes, tiny brushes and glances that precede it. Little is as sexy, or as frustrating, as restricted touch. Continue reading...

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