More than just a pleasure
Since the hype surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey, interest in erotic literature has risen sharply. Even people who rarely picked up a book before are looking for a tingling reading experience. Fortunately, erotic literature has not only existed since the publication of the Fifty Shades trilogy by E.L. James. The genre is as old as literature itself.
Authors have always used writing to record events that otherwise take place in secret. Things that remain hidden from prying eyes and yet are more appealing than any other thing. Basically, literature should benefit and delight. This principle (“prodesse et delectare”) was once described by the Roman poet Horace in his Ars Poetica. It also applies to erotic literature. Nevertheless, each writer places his or her own emphasis with his or her work. What exactly can erotic literature be concerned about?
So versatile is erotic literature
Some authors – and it doesn’t have to be Heinrich Böll (who, by the way, would have been 100 years old in December 2017) – aim to entertain with their stories or to inspire the erotic imagination of their readers. Other writers may even want to encourage people to break new ground in their own lovemaking. Many a couple has ventured into BDSM inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey. Throughout history, there have also been authors who see themselves as erotic enlighteners. In their erotic reports they reveal dark, unknown or libidinous sides of society. The writings of the Marquis de Sade, from whose name the term sadism derives, can be read in this way.
Finally, there are works about the art of love. Since ancient times, books have always been written to teach people about different positions during lovemaking. The Kama Sutra, written around 300 B.C., is perhaps the best known example of its kind. While some books teach readers about sex positions, others teach the art of flirting and seduction.
All in all, the erotic genre offers much more versatile reading experiences than one might assume at first glance. You can read sex books for fun or use erotic reading to gain knowledge. With all this diversity, is there also something like an erotic canon? Which works should you definitely read?
Writing on the verge of scandal
Erotic literature was written along social lines. This orientation ensures that erotic novels promise their own thrills for readers of their time. Erotic scandal novels often still captivate their readers to this day. They perform a fetish or present the pleasure of actions that are not seen in everyday life. Erotic reading renegotiates firmly distributed roles and gives people in love play possibilities for action that are associated with a new pleasure.
With their works, erotic authors have renegotiated on the social level what normality actually means. However, they always provide the reader with personal options. Novels can multiply erotic enthusiasm and spark new fantasies. They encourage people to take on new erotic roles and to kindle previously unknown lusts at the fire of literature.
Among the most famous erotic scandal novels is the novel “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” by the English writer D.H. Lawrence. In the novel, which has been filmed many times, the novel character Constance Chatterley goes against the moral ideas of her time. The way she unfolds her sexuality was considered a scandal at the time. However, the novel can also be read as a story of emancipation.
D.H. Lawrence has produced other erotic readings as well. The book “The Rainbow” is an example of this. Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel Lolita also caused a scandal at the time. Slash fiction or sex novels like these also reveal problematic sides of erotic literature. The book presents a story of abuse between an aging literary scholar and his Lolita.
Erotic literature beyond moral boundaries
Scandalous are not only erotic stories, for example, from the Evangelical Academy Wittenberg (“The shameful picture must go! In 2016, the theologian Richard Harvey had called for an online petition to remove the sandstone relief “Judensau” from Wittenberg’s city church”), but to this day the work of the Marquis de Sade is also the scandal par excellence. The French nobleman wrote his violent pornographic novels in the 18th century. His sex novels leave out little sexual play and feel bound by no moral boundaries. Among his best-known novels are “The Story of Justine or The Disadvantages of Virtue.” In it, de Sade describes the story of a prostitute who sets out on the path of virtue – and has been pursued by bad luck ever since. His book “Philosophy in the Boudoir” is, according to the subtitle, “intended for the education of young ladies.” It revolves around the anatomical exploitation of the pleasure maximum.
Perhaps most famous, after all, is de Sade’s episodic novel “The 120 Days of Sodom.” It was made into a film by Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini. The sex novels of de Sade have also acquired such importance because they have been interpreted again and again by philosophers. Many have read de Sade as a kind of dark enlightener.
The masochistic counterpart to de Sade’s works are the books of Leopold Sacher-Masoch. The Austrian writer became famous for his 1870 novella “Venus in Fur”. The story describes the interplay between the narrator in the role of a slave and his mistress “Wanda”. The work, inspired by Sacher-Masoch’s own experiences, has been filmed several times and performed on many theater stages.
In 1967, the band The Velvet Underground released the eponymous song “Venus in Furs”, contributing somewhat to the fame of the erotic novel. The name of the Austrian writer has given rise to the term masochism. Sacher-Masoch published countless other erotic novels and short stories. Some of them under the pseudonyms Zoë von Rodenbach and Charlotte Arand.
Erotic biographies as authentic erotica
An important part of erotic literature is also taken up by erotic biographies. In it, authors report on real experiences or fictional biographies. Especially when erotic authors presented their works as authentic sex books, this promises a special charm. Erotic literature of this kind serves the secret lusts of the voyeur that are in every reader. When Charlotte Roche says about Wetlands that the book is 70% autobiographical, that doesn’t make erotic reading any more boring. But there are also erotic books that promise even more authenticity.
Autobiographical sex novels such as “Josefine Mutzenbacher oder Die Geschichte einer Wienerischen Dirne von ihr selbst erzählt” are an example of this. Erotic reading gives explicit intimate insights into the experiences of a prostitute from the big city of Vienna. Today, researchers believe that the report, published in 1906, was written by the author Felix Salten. But that didn’t take away from the book’s appeal.
A more recent example of erotic literature of this kind is the book published under the pseudonym Sonia Rossi in 2008, “Fucking Berlin. Student and part-time whore”. In the book, the author, whose civil name is unknown, describes how she began working as a prostitute as a student. The autobiographical bestseller was translated into 8 languages, widely received and filmed in 2016.
The art of flirtation and seduction
Erotic reading can offer more than just entertaining insights into the most private secondary matter in the world. Thus, erotic novels and erotic short stories can teach something about the art of seduction. In fact, erotic scandal novels are full of great seducers. Some works are even explicitly designed to train their readers in how to charm other people. The word bezirzen already comes from the narrative. It is derived from the name of the goddess Circe and alludes to the famous seduction skills of the sorceress. The goddess appears in Homer’s Odyssey.
Author Madeline Miller has created a modern retelling of the ancient myth with her novel “I Am Circe.” However, the most famous figure among literary seducers is Giacomo Casanova. In his memoirs entitled “Story of My Life,” he describes his seductions and erotic adventures. As far as erotic literature is concerned, this book is still a classic today.
Short stories and poems train erotic language
If you want to venture into erotic literature, you don’t have to read great novels. Erotic literature also offers readers countless short stories with erotic fire and fascinating poem. Readers often get more than a short burst of enjoyment from their reading. Erotica of this kind trains the erotic language and thus increases the seduction skills of its readers.
– Why erotic stories are better than porn
– Australia – Erotic experiences of a student abroad
– How I became my roommate’s sex slave
– Sex story: My wife and the big dog
– 18th Birthday: How Mom Taught Me Blowjob
A good anthology of shorter stories is, for example, the book “The Delta of Venus” published by Anaïs Nin. If you are looking for erotic poems, you will find them in Heinrich Heine, Bertolt Brecht as well as in Shakespeare’s sonnets, Goethe’s poems and many other writers. But also the work of the ancient poet Sappho or the texts of Marceline Desbordes-Valmore promise a sensual reading.
Get to know the diversity of sexual acrobatics
Erotic literature, as erotic art (“Ars Erotica”), can also accomplish something further. It can show a canon of sex positions. Studying such works gives very concrete ideas for enriching one’s own love life. One of the most famous collections of this kind is the Kama Sutra.
It appeared in ancient India and was published in Sanskrit. To date, this book has seen countless new editions. However, there are still many similar erotic books. The book published by Emily Nagoski, “Come as You Will,” is explicitly aimed at women. Erotic literature thus also offers very practical tips for anyone who wants to try something new in bed.