The Paris Review

Sex in the Garden

Over the centuries, there have been innumerable interpretations of the story of Adam and Eve. This week on the Daily, Stephen Greenblatt, the author of The Rise and Fall of Adam and Everetells some of these legends in modern idiom, and invents a few of his own.

William Blake, Satan Watching the Endearments of Adam and Eve (detail), 1808.

The serpent, the subtlest of all the beasts of the field, had observed with interest the humans’ sexual intercourse in Paradise. He saw that Adam calmly willed his penis to stiffen and then gently inserted it into Eve’s vulva. The act caught his attention in part because he thought that Eve was extraordinarily beautiful and in part because he had already noted a certain resemblance between Adam’s

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