What Exactly Is Medieval Sex?

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 13 2011 @ 10:21am

by Patrick Appel

Rachael Brown interviewed George RR Martin, author of the Game of Thrones series. About the sexual violence in his books, Martin says he's "not writing about contemporary sex—it’s medieval":

I have gotten letters over the years from readers who don’t like the sex, they say it’s “gratuitous.” I think that word gets thrown around and what it seems to mean is “I didn’t like it.” This person didn’t want to read it, so it’s gratuitous to that person. And if I’m guilty of having gratuitous sex, then I’m also guilty of having gratuitous violence, and gratuitous feasting, and gratuitous description of clothes, and gratuitous heraldry, because very little of this is necessary to advance the plot.

But my philosophy is that plot advancement is not what the experience of reading fiction is about. If all we care about is advancing the plot, why read novels? We can just read Cliffs Notes.

A novel for me is an immersive experience where I feel as if I have lived it and that I’ve tasted the food and experienced the sex and experienced the terror of battle.

Kay Steiger objects to distinctions between contemporary and medieval rape.