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Beautiful Losers praised and condemned

Poet, musician, novelist, ladies' man, monk, actor... Leonard Norman Cohen, one of Canada's most influential cultural icons was born on Sept. 21, 1934 in Montreal. Whether from a mountaintop at a Buddhist retreat in California, on the Greek island of Hydra or strolling along the streets of his beloved ville d'amour, the melancholy bard of popular music has delighted fans worldwide with his poetry, novels and music.

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Leonard Cohen's second novel Beautiful Losers (1966) is described on its dust jacket as "a disagreeable religious epic of incomparable beauty." It would become one of the most radical and extraordinary works of fiction ever published in Canada. Upon the publication of Beautiful Losers, The Boston Globe declares, "James Joyce is not dead. He is living in Montreal under the name of Cohen." But not everyone is a fan.

Back home, critic Robert Fulford calls it "the most revolting book ever written in Canada," and a review in The Globe and Mail newspaper describes it as "verbal masturbation."
• Artist Harold Towne, who did the artwork for the cover of Beautiful Losers, called those critical of the book "vacuous… lint pickers and dandruff."

• The book follows the members of a love triangle, their sexual obsessions and their fascination with a 17th-century Mohawk saint.
Medium: Television
Program: Take 30
Broadcast Date: May 23, 1966
Guest(s): Leonard Cohen
Host: Adrienne Clarkson, Paul Soles
Duration: 11:28

Last updated: May 16, 2012

Page consulted on October 24, 2014

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