Eleven minutes

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Elf Minuten (Portuguese original title Onze Minutos ) is a novel by the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho from 2003. Translations appeared in the same year in German by Diogenes Verlag , Zurich, and in English as Eleven Minutes by Knv Import. The novel focuses on the development of Maria, a young Brazilian woman who discovers herself and her ability to love through various detours, including prostitution .


The young Brazilian Maria goes to Rio de Janeiro , on the one hand out of a thirst for adventure, on the other hand she is attracted by the idea of ​​later returning to her home village as a successful and married woman. In Rio she met a Swiss man who took her to Europe. She hopes to become famous as a samba dancer. But instead of dancing in a club, she quickly finds herself in prostitution. After some time, she is assigned special clients who instruct her in the area of sadomasochism ( BDSM ) that she enjoys physically. Since Maria has been convinced of her disturbed ability to relate and feel for years due to unhappy experiences in her youth, she has adopted a cynical attitude. Her suffering becomes clear in diary entries when she notes: “I want to understand what love is, but so far I only suffer. Those who touch my soul cannot wake my body. And those to whom I give myself cannot touch my soul. ”But when she meets a young painter and falls in love with him, her conception of the world is shaken, even though Maria had finished with love. In her relationship with Ralf, the painter, she experiences a form of love that is new to her and that enables her to experience an unexpected and comprehensive fulfillment. The extreme variants of sexuality become superfluous in view of the psychological connectedness of the lovers - erotic sensations are sometimes very intense only in thoughts and ideas.


The novel shows the self-discovery of a young woman, whose inner development - from naive country girl to hardened businesswoman and sex worker to loving woman - is portrayed on both a physical and a spiritual level. One interpretation refers to the pleasure in giving up on oneself in love and the discovery of a more authentic feeling. The simple language, which is significant for Coelho, lends the story of Maria something fairytale-like . The novel begins accordingly with: "Once upon a time there was a prostitute named Maria." However, this simplicity often stands in stark contrast to the subject matter, which promotes the development of a basic philosophical mood. The title of the novel refers to the eleven minutes that - according to Maria's calculation - the actual sex with her suitors takes.


Eleven minutes was received very controversially. Critical voices are disturbed by the trivializing representation of prostitution, sex tourism and the undignified living conditions behind them. The love affair and Mary's change are accordingly rated as inflated and the work is classified on the verge of kitsch .

The positive reviews praise that Coelho succeeds in describing the path of a woman, endowed with an often naive-looking carelessness, without any moral index finger or dogmatism. Existential and intimate topics are taken up equally and drastic sex scenes are portrayed without any false shame. The novel was marketed as a "modern fairy tale about the alchemy of love" and "journey to yourself" and became a bestseller.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. http://deutschsprachige-literatur.blogspot.de/2010/09/inhaltsdaten-elf-minuten-von-paulo.html
  2. Paulo Coelho ( Memento from September 27, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  3. Christiane Korff: Literature: The fairy tale of the vagina. In: Focus Online . August 25, 2003. Retrieved October 14, 2018 .