Eleven Minutes

Eleven Minutes

Summary:Srinidhi Raghavendra
“Once upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria,” thus begins Paulo Coelho''s Eleven Minutes, then halts jerkily and ironically addresses the reader regarding the appropriateness of using these words. In the initial chapters Eleven Minutes seems to be confused, a book that cannot decide whether it wants to be fairy tale or saga of sexual discovery and ends satisfying neither of the demands. In his dedication, the best selling Brazilian novelist Coelho, whose works include the internationally best selling The Alchemist, The Fifth Mountain and By the River Piedra I Sat and Wept tells readers that his book will deal with issues that are “harsh, difficult, shocking,” but neither the inane descriptions of sadism and masochism nor his detailed and elaborate observations of female anatomy and the hardly new fact that most women are dissatisfied with their sex lives will shock readers.

Eleven Minutes
tells the story of Maria, a young girl from a Brazilian village, whose first innocent brushes with love leave her heartbroken. Her girlhood experiments with romance convince her that love is a delusion, or at least it is not for her. At a tender age, she becomes convinced that she will never find true love and instead starts believing that “Love is a terrible thing that will make you suffer...” Attaining her majority, she becomes a shop salesgirl with limited career prospects. Her striking beauty attracts several young men to her including the owner of the shop she works in. Her introduction to sexual pleasure and how she tries to find the sacred sex in her various boyfriends is described in simple language and great and sometimes unnecessary detail. While on a vacation to Rio de Janeiro Maria comes into contact with a Swiss tourist looking to hire dancers for his club in Geneva.
She accepts his offer and travels to Geneva with the hope of realising her dreams of finding fame and fortune. Starting off as a lowly paid dancer in Geneva, Maria soon ends up working as a high-class prostitute. Her journey from being a restaurant dancer to a high-class call girl, her philosophical exploration of sexual love, her explicit quasi-philosophical diary entries makes the book overall an interesting reading.
Beginning to work as a prostitute, Maria drifts further and further away from love and slowly develops a fascination for sex. In the process of her exploration with sex she arrives at a conclusion that eleven minutes is all that is required for a sexual act. The title of the book – Eleven Minutes – refers to the hypothetical average duration for an act of coitus as described by Maria. “It’s really only forty-five minutes, and if you allow time for taking off clothes, making some phoney gesture of affection, having a bit of banal conversation and getting dressed again, the amount of time spent actually having sex is about eleven minutes,” writes the author echoing Maria’s thoughts about why men so powerful and arrogant at work, constantly having to deal with employees, customers, suppliers, prejudices, secrets, hypocrisy, fear and oppression, ended their day in a nightclub. 
Eventually, her despairing view of love is put to the test when she meets internationally famous, rich and handsome young painter Ralf Hart. In this odyssey of self-discovery, Maria has to choose between pursuing a path of sexual pleasure for its own sake, or risking everything to discover her own “inner light” and the possibility of sacred sex, sex in the context of love. In this daring, but rather slow-paced – and at times downright boring – novel, Coelho sensitively explores the sacred nature of sex and love and invites us to confront our own prejudices and demons and embrace our own “inner light”.   The narrative, constantly alternating between third-person narration about the heroine and first-person excerpts from her diaries embeds itself firmly in Maria''s perceptions, riences, emotions and dreams as she struggles to understand life. Coelho''s prose -- at least in the fluid English translation by Margaret Jull Costa -- is simple, straightforward and easily understandable, Eleven Minutes is an easy read, as easy to assimilate as water. It can easily be argued that Coelho''s first smash hit, The Alchemist (1993), set the template for Maria''s story. The shepherd in that earlier novel is bent on living out his ‘personal legend’ through a voyage of self-exploration, so is Maria in the book under review. Both decry the failure to dream and the impossibility of living the dreams of others. The two characters even buck themselves up in near-identical terms.
According to Coelho sex is civilization''s core problem, and that it''s far more serious and worrisome than waning rain forests or the hole in the ozone layer. With the way world’s population is exploding every day, Coelho maybe right after all.
Eleven Minutes Originally published in Shvoong:

0 Opiniões:

Postar um comentário