Beautiful Losers

Famous Blue Raincoat [Leonard Cohen]
Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Losers was written outside, on a table set among the rocks, weeds and daisies, behind my house on Hydra, an island in the Aegean Sea. I lived there many years ago. It was a blazing hot summer. I never covered my head. What you have in your hands is more of a sunstroke than a book.
Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen writes Beautiful Losers on Hydra island in the mid-1960s.

Beautiful Losers, the second novel by Leonard Cohen after The Favourite Game — and the last, up to now was considered a scandalous book when it was published in 1966. A critic even described it as the most revolting book ever written in Canada, because it contained obscenities in several paragraphs.

Beautiful Losers The book's main character, a man who is never named, is a scholar doing research on the first Native American once canonized as a Christian Saint, Kateri TekakwithaThe Lily of the Mohawks. It broods over his research the memory of his dead Native wife, Edith, and their dead male lover and all-knowing mentor, he calls by his initial only, F. History, sex, politics, religion, and poetry, merge into an intricate dance of power relationships in which nothing can be taken for granted, except the beauty of loss.

More than 40 years later, the novel is now a classic. It is certainly excessive in more than one place, yet it is a novel of another level than the simple provocation by a young author of the . Although Cohen was not a Beatnik himself, the novel placed him from the start with the best authors of the time, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Gregory Corso.

Songs of Love and HateAfter Beautiful Losers, Leonard Cohen stopped writing novels though, and pursued his famous career as a poet, songwriter and singer.

His third album, Songs of Love and Hate, in 1971, included in particular the awesome, yet frightening, Avalanche and Joan of Arc and, ranking high in my favourite songs, Famous Blue Raincoat. The love triangle Leonard Cohen is calling up in this song cannot but be reminiscent of Beautiful Losers.

2 comment(s):

    I want to listen to more of his music now.

    On 31 May, 2010 03:09 Anonymous said...

    I love Leonard Cohen more than anything. I'm currently reading Beautiful Losers & it is certainly one of the most obscure things I've read...but I love it. Leonard is a genius!


Post a Comment

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin


Timeless Music
The Magic Flute
by W. A. Mozart

Timeless Reading
Les Essais
by Michel de Montaigne