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Playing The Favourite Game

The Story

"You have to be very charitable to reviewers," says Leonard Cohen, who has just released The Favourite Game, a new novel. "They're very unhappy people who have generally failed at an art they would like to excel in." Cohen's book, about a young Jewish man from Montreal, is getting mixed reviews in Canada. In this 1963 interview, Cohen doesn't seem perturbed by the critics. What's irritating, he says, is the perception that the book is about him: "I cringe before the tyranny of fact, but it is not autobiographical. I made it up."

Medium: Television
Program: Youth Special
Broadcast Date: Nov. 12, 1963
Guest: Leonard Cohen
Commentator: Paddy Springate
Host: Stuart Smith
Duration: 12:20

Did You know?

The Favourite Game was made into a movie by Quebec director Bernar Hébert in 2003.

• Cohen was living on the Greek island of Hydra when he wrote The Favourite Game. While living there he produced another novel, Beautiful Losers, in 1966, and two more collections of poetry: Flowers For Hitler (1964) and Parasites of Heaven (1966).

• The house Cohen bought on Hydra cost him $1,500 - an inheritance from his grandmother - in 1960. It had no plumbing or electricity. Of the house, he wrote to his mother: "It has a huge terrace with a view of dramatic mountains and shining white houses. The rooms are large and cool with deep windows set in thick walls. I suppose it's about 200 years old and many generations of seamen must have lived here."

• After Cohen had been living there a while, telephone service came to Hydra. He was inspired to write the song Bird on a Wire because of the birds that would gather on the new telephone wire.




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