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.
By turns vulgar, rhapsodic, and viciously witty, Beautiful Losers explores each character’s attainment of a state of self-abandonment, in which the sensualist cannot be distinguished from the saint.
Leonard Cohen was born in Montreal in 1934. He received his B.A. from McGill University and pursued graduate studies in English at Columbia University. Soon thereafter, he returned to Montreal and worked in his family’s clothing business while he continued to write poetry.
His artistic career began in 1956 with the publication of Let Us Compare Mythologies. He has published nine collections of poetry, most recently, Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs (1993), and two novels, The Favourite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966). During the sixties he achieved national and international acclaim as a composer-singer. He has made seventeen albums, the latest being Dear Heather (2004). Numerous tribute albums, in many languages, have celebrated his songs.
Cohen was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1991, and promoted to the rank of Companion in 2003. He received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in 1993, and has won numerous Juno Awards.
“Fuses sexuality with spirituality… mystical and profane, poetic and obscene … an invitation to play Russian roulette with a phallic pistol.”
“Cohen is a writer of terrific energy and colour, a Rabelaisian comic and a visualizer of memorable scenes.”
–London Observer (U.K.)
“Brilliant, explosive, a fountain of talent.… James Joyce is not dead … he lives under the name of Cohen … writing from the point of view of Henry Miller.”
“A fantasied eroticism which is wildly funny.… An exciting book.”
–Sunday Times (U.K.)
“The literary counterpart of Hair on the stage and Easy Rider on the screen.”
–Daily Telegraph (U.K.)
“Leaves one gasping for breath as well as suitable words.… Cohen is a powerful, poetic writer.”
–Dallas Times Herald