The role of art in contemporary literature
Ian MacKenzie of The Guardian discusses the role of fine art in literature, using James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as one of his ten examples (Thomas Bernhard's Old Masters: A Comedy is noticeably absent):
'"You say that art must not excite desire", says Lynch, a school friend of Joyce's alter ego Stephen Dedalus. He's incredulous of the claim, and confesses that he wrote his "name in pencil on the backside of the Venus of Praxiteles" at the National Museum. Stephen points out that Lynch's is not a "normal nature", but surely Lynch has a point: erotic art isn't meant to be anodyne; the male artist knows what he's up to when he paints or sculpts a naked woman. (Joyce later had Leopold Bloom, in 'Ulysses', contemplate the existence or nonexistence of anuses in the female statuary at the National Museum.)'