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Silence and a kiss,
by Clifford Thurlow 

Auguste Rodin Atril press
Auguste Rodin,
The kiss (detail), 1880

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      The Kiss is a life-sized marble sculpture created in 1880 by Auguste Rodin that shows that a kiss is always more than a kiss.

What we see is the 13th century Italian beauty Francesca da Rimini with puckered lips almost but not quite touching the lips of Paolo Malatesta. Look close, and we remain unsure whether the couple are about to kiss, have just parted from a kiss or have been caught kissing in flagrante.

Inspired by Dante’s Inferno, Rodin was enchanted by the story of Francesca da Rimini reading the tale of Lancelot and Guinevere as she fell in love with her husband’s younger brother, Paolo. Caught in the act, Giovanni Malatesta does what nobles do and had the lovers killed.

Rodin carved women in marble as a homage to their beauty, not as slaves submitting to men, but partners locked in the heat of passion. The slender figures, shiny white and naked, are gripped in an embrace in such a way that the bare stone comes to life and creates what is one of the most erotic images in the history of art. Rodin’s masterpiece can be seen at the Musée Rodin in Paris.

The Judas Kiss

A kiss is always more than a kiss. We kiss to say I love you. We kiss the rings of Popes and the self-important. The feet of conquerors. The rich dark earth when we reach the promised land. We kiss our hands and wave as loved ones begin a journey. We kiss babies’ cheeks to soak up their innocence. A kiss after midnight. A kiss before dying. The devil’s kiss.

According to Matthew’s Gospel, when Judas leaves the Garden of Gethsemane after the Last Supper, Jesus says, ‘Friend, do what you are here to do,’ and the Judas kiss is thought by some scholars to contain a complicity, a brief touching of lips to seal the terms of fate.

Two spacemen touching in anti-gravity is like a kiss. A kiss is a rare bird. The first sip of champagne. The fleeting glimpse of a shooting star. The kiss is uniquely human. We exchange the intimacy of bodily fluids with a kiss. A great kiss is like eating melon on a picnic. Like diving into a warm sea. A French kiss is a battle of tongues where everyone wins.

A really good kiss is like a secret you want to share. The first kiss stays in your mind  forever. Time expands with a really good kiss and you add another few seconds to the end of your life. Making love requires no thought. You move as the fronds of a palm tree move in the breeze. It is all instinct. All wonder. When you love someone, your lips are incomplete until they are oiled by a kiss. You can say ‘I love you’ a thousand ways but you can say it better with silence and a kiss.

Clifford Thurlow Atril press
Clifford Thurlow was born in London and started work as a junior reporter on a local newspaper aged 18. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. He worked as the editor of the Athens News in Greece, managed a travelling dolphin show in Spain and studied Buddhism in India, leading to the publication of his first book, Stories from Beyond the Clouds, an anthology of Tibetan folk stories.
He met actress Carol White in Hollywood and wrote her memoirs, Carol Comes Home. It was the first of a dozen books as a ghostwriter, including the Sunday Times bestseller Today I’m Alice – the story of multiple personality disorder survivor Alice Jamieson. His lates book, How to Rob the Bank of England, will be published in September 2024.

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