Le Monde startles readers by serialising 'graphic' novel about an online love affair on its website

The first chapter has rocketed to the second-most read spot on what is the most read news site in France

Paris

How can you illustrate sexual pleasure without showing the act of sex? How can you fall in love with someone that you have never met?  

This double conundrum is addressed by a cartoon novel about virtual love in the internet age which appeared online in France this week.

The website of Le Monde, France’s most serious newspaper, has startled its readers by serialising a graphic novel (or adult comic book) about a 21st-century love affair.

A young man and a young woman become friends through the internet communications site, Skype. They start to have remote sex without meeting.

The novel – witty and beautifully drawn – illustrates their sexual pleasure in an abstract, dream-like way. The two authors say they wanted to avoid any suspicion of pornography or even eroticism.

A series of surreal drawings – in which the couple plunge naked off a giant obelisk and swing on trapezes holding sharp weapons – is meant to portray how sex feels, rather than how it looks.

Readers of the Le Monde site have been divided in their response. Some have dismissed the first chapter published this week as “over-intellectualised” or “badly drawn”. Others say that they cannot wait for the next three chapters.

In France, the comic book, or Bande Dessinée, is regarded as an art form. Florent Ruppert and Jérôme Mulot, the authors of “La Technique du périnée” (The perineum technique) already have a reputation for pushing the genre beyond its traditional boundaries. Readers were encouraged to slash their previous book to pieces.

Their new book, serialised in Le Monde, begins with a surreal sex sequence. After several pages, the reader discovers that the couple are not plunging from an obelisk into a pool of water. They are sitting in their respective homes in front of their laptop computers and masturbating.

As the story progresses, the young man asks to meet the young woman in person. She refuses, saying, perhaps jokingly, that she fears that he will cut her into pieces. Eventually – like a coy damsel in a medieval tale – she sets him a mission or task.

If he manages to have remote sex with her on Skype for four months without ejaculating, she will have dinner with him. The young man therefore attempts to learn the perineum technique of the book’s title – a method of male muscular control allegedly permitting limitless sexual pleasure.

Florent Ruppert, one of the authors, said: “It’s an entirely traditional story in its structure. We wanted to talk about what was changing about the way we live, notably because of the internet, by means of a story about sexuality.

“We didn’t want to show sex scenes because it would have looked like porn. So we transfigured the sexual acts. We wanted to talk about sexuality without distracting the reader, without giving them the desire to have sex themselves.”

The first chapter of the book rocketed to the second-most read spot on Le Monde’s site (the most read news site in France, especially popular with the political and intellectual classes). Reader’s comments were mixed. “It’s very pretentious,” said one reader, using a rude French word for pretentious. Another said the art-work was “simplistic” and that the dialogues “lacked finesse”. But one described this as “just cheap snobbery” and the book as extraordinary, and another said: “I love it… I can’t wait for the next episodes.”

“La Technique du perinee”, by Florent Ruppert and Jérôme Mulot, coloured by Isabelle Merlet, will be pushlished by Aire Libre on 9 May priced €20.50 (£17). The first chapter can be found on the paid-for part of Lemonde.fr

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Service Desk Analyst - (Active Directory, Support, London)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, VBA)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition