Canada Reads·Canadian

Beautiful Losers

Leonard Cohen's novel follows the members of a love triangle united by their fascination with a 17th-century Mohawk saint.

Leonard Cohen

One of the best-known experimental novels of the 1960s, Beautiful Losers is Cohen's most defiant and uninhibited work. The novel centres upon the hapless members of a love triangle united by their sexual obsessions and by their fascination with Catherine Tekakwitha, the 17th-century Mohawk saint. Complex and highly allusive, Cohen's second (and last) novel has been called "one of the most radical and extraordinary works of fiction ever published in Canada."

Beautiful Losers was a Canada Reads 2005 contender, and was defended by Molly Johnson.

From the book

What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the energy of love. Contact with this energy results in the exercise of a kind of balance in the chaos of existence. A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world would have changed long ago. I do not think that a saint dissolves the chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in the notion of a man setting the universe in order. It is a kind of balance that is his glory. He rides the drifts like an escaped ski. His course is a caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock. Something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws of gravity and chance. Far from flying with the angels, he traces with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid bloody landscape.

From Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen ©1966. Published by Emblem Editions.


Saying goodbye to Leonard Cohen

5 years ago
Duration 3:27
The official goodbye to Leonard Cohen was led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, kicking off a night full of musicians from around the world paying tribute to the Canadian music legend.
To mark Leonard Cohen's passing, we play an interview that Shelagh did with him in 2006, when five of his songs were inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Other books by Leonard Cohen