Valentines gifts: Novels
I don’t know about you but I always prefer to buy my own lingerie… and yes, February 14th is no exception.
I’m a strong believer that a good book makes the perfect gift and with Valentines Day just around the corner, I see no better time to introduce some erotic literary classics…
FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
The book you’ve undoubtedly heard of before and the one behind the film adaptation which is due to be released in only a matter of days. While Fifty Shades of Grey may not be counted a literary classic, it has however sold over 100 million copies and brought erotic fiction to the forefront in 2014. Erika Mitchell, whose pen name is E.L James, initially wrote fan fiction under the pen name “Snowqueen’s Icedragon”, with her most notable work being a Twilight fan fiction that eventually developed into Fifty Shades of Grey. Having only taken to writing in 2009, Erika has expressed her shock of the success of the book. In 2013 Erika was announced top of the Forbes’ list of the highest-earning authors with earnings of $95 million. An incredible success story to say the least…
THE STORY OF O
Highly influential BDSM flavoured erotic fare, Story of O was written by Anne Desclos under the pseudonym Pauline Reage. Anne did not reveal herself as the author for forty years after the initial publication and claims she first wrote the novel as a series of love letters to her lover. Story of O has been captivating and scandalising readers ever since it was first published. It won a prestigious award in France in 1955 but authorities later prosecuted the publisher for obscenity. The novel is an impressive erotic achievement thanks to its emphasis on love and romantic feelings. It was eventually made into a glossy soft-core porn movie by Just Jaecklin (the same man responsible for the Emmanuelle movies) that was tastefully kinky and looked beautiful.
Monika Lewinsky is said to have given a copy of this 1992 novel to Bill Clinton. And it was a New York Times best-seller. The author, Nicholson Baker, doesn’t leave much to the imagination in this book. There’s such a diversity of opinions concerning his excessive use of detail. This is definitely a love-it-or-hate-it kind of book and certainly one for the curious.
Fanny Hill is one of the most notorious texts in English Literature. First published in London in 1749, it is considered “the first English prose pornography”. Written by John Cleland, who later renounced the novel in court when he was charged with ‘corrupting the king’s subjects’. The book was outlawed and wasn’t republished again until 1966. A Pretty- Woman-type tale of a naïve young prostitute who slowly rises to respectability. It has since become an important piece of political parody and sexual philosophy.
DELTA OF VENUS
As influential and revelatory in its day as Fifty Shades of Grey is now, Anaïs Nin’s Delta of Venus is a ground breaking anthology of erotic short stories. But it wasn’t until after Anaïs’s death that the book reached cult status.
Delta of Venus is both a towering achievement of erotica and one of Anaïs’s finest literary feats. In the novel Anaïs Nin conjures up a glittering cascade of sexual encounters. Creating her own ‘language of the senses’, she explores an area that was previously the domain of male writers and brings to it her own unique perceptions. Her vibrant and impassioned prose evokes the essence of female sexuality in a world where only love has meaning. Anaïs Nin often scorned her pornographic writings…. Little did she know they would become classic erotica.
VENUS IN FURS
First Published in 1870, von Sacher-Masoch’s book was a pioneering achievement – exposing the world to female domination and SM activities and giving us, via his name, the term ‘masochism’. It has had a tremendous influence in culture, with two film adaptations and also The Velvet Underground composed a song in 1967 called Venus in Furs. It is a very black and white novel with extremes of passion and feelings.
LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER
With its four-letter words and its explicit descriptions, Lady Chatterley’s Lover is the novel with which D.H. Lawrence is most often associated. First published in 1928, the book later became an international best seller when, after years of censorship and numerous obscenity trails, it became available to the public. The famous ‘trial of Lady Chatterley’ heralded the sexual revolution of the coming decades and signalled the defeat of Establishment prudery. Therefore allowing many other works of erotic fiction to be published.
TROPIC OF CANCER
If you are seeking some erotic literature that is well written and endorsed by literary giants, try Tropic of Cancer. H L Mencken called it ‘an excellent piece of work’, George Orwell names Henry ‘a writer out of the ordinary’ and Samuel Beckett called the book ‘a momentous event in the history of modern writing’. Written in the late 20s early 30s, Tropic of Caner is a genuine erotic classic. It is written in first person and combines fiction and reality with a whole procession of real life characters. The prose flows beautifully and the book is wry and amusing. A must read for any erotic fiction connoisseur.
FEAR OF FLYING
Mixing Feminism and sex, Erica Jong’s 1973 novel was a smash hit success and provoked much debate. In the novel, Erica coined the phrase ‘zipless f**k’ which is a sexual encounter for it’s own sake without any emotional ties or love to impede it. It entered the popular lexicon in the 70s and also saw regeneration with the third wave feminism. The novel still remains a feminist classic and while there has never been a film adaptation, in 2013, following the success of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, there were rumours of a screen debut.
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