A lot of things have changed in me since reading this book, and furthermore, watching this film. The way I look at love, the way I understand my sexuality, and more importantly, I've felt emotions I haven't felt in years. I'd like to talk about my favourite part of the novel and what I understand from it. This book is incredible, and I'm so happy that it's finally getting the recognition it deserves. The film, although different, had me in absolute tears, too.
Let's jump right in, shall we?
If you know the book, then you'll of course be familiar with the "peach scene." If you haven’t, DO NOT CARRY ON READING. Of course, I could talk about the obvious thing and talk about how, yes, our beloved Elio has sex with a peach and his lover, Oliver, later eats the peach. It's an obvious metaphor, but what comes later shows the true passion and love the two lovers shared from the slightly gross gesture.
I'd also like to add: Please do not mistake this book for just "another gay novel." The bi-lingual novel is not about being gay or straight or even bisexual. It's about the freeing feeling of love. It is also about the importance of intelligence and passion, coming of age, and finding who you are. This book is about two humans—two beings—falling in love with no ideology of gender or sexuality or set standards.
Elio somehow realises, at the age of 17, Oliver was physically showing him "I believe with every cell in my body, that every cell in yours must not, must never, die, and if it does have to die, let it die inside my body" through eating his semen.
At first, I wasn't quite sure as to why this quote had stuck with me so much, but the more I analysed the tone of the gesture, the easier it was for me to understand through my own emotions what was meant. It's easy enough to say that you would die for someone; we all have someone we would die for, right? Well, Elio and Oliver share such a raw, powerful connection that they couldn't bear to watch something of the other die, even that of small, basically useless organisms that were inside a peach. The grim action becomes somewhat beautiful with the 17-year-old's perception of what his lover meant. This all links back to the idea of "call me by your name and I’ll call you by mine." There are so, so, so, so many references surrounding the idea that, as lovers, the only way they can be close enough is if they are inside each other. If that can't be physically, the only way is to have each other’s words in their mouths. This is pure, angelic, beautiful love.
Oliver and Elio's transcendent love is immune to corruption of the outside world of 1983 within the walls of Crema, Italy. The town is their safe haven where the boys' love can blossom and reach new levels of sensuality; a microcosm of a world that is to come where there is no shame in declaring who you love. Let's lock that word down ,though—"sensuality" is not sexuality. Yes, within sensuality you find sexual experiences, but this book is not sexual. You actually feel the story. You can smell the fresh air of the villa overcoming the scent of sweat and smoke from their first love-making scene. The book forms some kind of physical, sensual emotion. Truly amazing.
Thanks for reading.
*I could say so much more but I have an essay due and may do a part two at some point*