I started shivering uncontrollably on the subway as I read this.
The Prince lies back languorously on the rumpled bed, watching Rapunzel move about the chamber in her night-dress of unbound, shimmering hair, and reflects again on her absence of shame. He knows many court ladies who are without shame in matters of love, but their shamelessness is aggressive and defiant.… Rapunzel is without shame and without an overcoming of shame. She walks in her nakedness as if nakedness were a form of clothing. The innocence of her wantonness disarms the Prince. There is nothing she won’t do, nothing she feels she should resist. Sometimes the Prince wishes that she would tease him with a sly look, that she would cover her breasts with an outspread fan of peacock feathers, that she would lie on her stomach and look at him mischievously over her shoulder, as if to say: Do you dare? The Prince is a fearless lover, but there are times when he feels shy before her. At such moments he longs for her to resist him violently, so that he might force her into submission. Instead he bends down, far down, and kisses, very slowly, each of her toes.
From “Rapunzel” by Steven Millhauser in McSweeney’s 38.
Be right back, going to read everything Steven Millhauser has ever written.