Reader, In the past, I’ve done a lot of bad things, and I don’t want to do the same now. Still, I’m a little shocked by all the sadomasochistic pornography that’s out there these days. When I travel on public transportation, I’m often forced to get close to a woman who’s reading on her Kindle, and I can’t help but see over her shoulder that she’s reading one of the Fifty Shades books. Indeed, I’ve seen enough now to understand what’s going on: “He suddenly flicks the crop, and it hits me on the bottom of my back. My nipples become hard and long after the attack, and I moan loudly as I pull on my leather cuffs. You need to be sore, baby, because I want you to. Everyone who moves tomorrow should remember that I’ve been here.”
Then, too. These Grey fans, who are always women, always seem to have a good time reading. So I should be, too. She said at the time of Grey’s big success, “All my friends and literally everyone I talk to is reading it.” It has a cult following, and the movie sequel Fifty Shades Darker is on sale for Valentine’s Day. You can watch it with a date or on your own, if you want.
As a novelist, I have to think that people who read for fun are good for the world. In this case, a popular book has told us that a lot of people are okay with grown-up, consensual, sadomasochistic activities. It has reminded us, too, of a woman’s desire for strong sexual fantasies that are well-described. People who grew up in the 1950s and ’60s thought that “dirty books” were only for men. As a child of that time, maybe this is a good thing for civilisation.
I’m not the only one who thinks EL James’s writing isn’t very good. Fans of the book might want a fancier, “classic” kind of erotic read. I’ve even said that. (It’s) “Anas Nin’s Delta of Venus isn’t being sold. How long was Elizabeth McNeill’s Nine and a Half Weeks? “Is this what you meant? I know, though, that it’s a fool’s errand to try to explain the art of mucky books to a global audience of women. The real thing to look at, maybe, is how men and women do things differently.
When Anas Nin started writing erotica in the 1940s, she did it for extra cash because she didn’t have much money. But Nin came to see that in a male-dominated field, she could be different by using a woman’s language and looking at sexual experience from a woman’s point of view, which is what she did. Nin’s sexual stories aren’t just meant to get people excited, but also to make them feel the fast-moving currents of that excitement, which is why they’re so good. Gratification is elegantly held back: it doesn’t come too soon. And maybe that tells us something about how men and women have different experiences of sex and fantasy. She has more finesse, fluency, hidden nooks and folds than the man, who has less of everything.
There’s a sense that blokes like their filth served straight up, with no chaser: knocked out by men for men with short attention spans, focused on stand-out female traits that males seem never to tire of. The narrator of Kingsley Amis’s That Uncertain Feeling thinks about this “My favorite thing about breasts was that women had them. Why did I like them so much? “Is this what you meant?
Today, anyone who can get past his parents’ poor blocking methods can see an uncensored history of human sexuality on the internet. In my day, though, young men who were looking for adult advice on how to “do” sex still a lot of the time relied on well-worn parts of popular paperbacks. When Sonny Corleone’s “blood-gorged pole of muscle” is welcomed into Lucy Mancini’s “wet, turgid flesh,” she is grateful. Anais Nin called it “the joyful, joyful, joyful impaling of woman on man’s sensual mast.” This doesn’t seem like it.
If you look at Fifty Shades, you can see that women have done the same. John Cleland’s Fanny Hill, who we’ll meet soon, said that “poetry itself” is what makes sex fun, so writing about it is hard. In my opinion, it’s important to stand up for good, sexually explicit literature, as well as to remember that writers have been sexual adventurers and self-abuse merchants. They took risks to fight prudishness, ignorance, and repression, even at the risk of becoming famous and having their work banned. There is a group of male writers who have done well, and in their honor, I’m going to show you a list of 10 great X-rated novels. You can keep them in your own private library, or put them on your top shelf, if you have to. True sex knowledge and a reminder from Woody Allen that the act is only dirty if you do it right are found in these pages.
Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima (1949; English translation, 1958)
In Confessions of a Mask, a story about repression and masturbation, Kochan says that masturbation is his “bad habit.” As a clinical case study, Kochan is a Japanese son who must pass exams, work, marry, and have children. He is also a boy who fantasizes about “death and pools of blood.”
First, Kochan reads about a Renaissance painting of the Christian martyr St Sebastian with arrows in his “tense, fragrant” body. When he looks at the painting, he knows what will happen to him. Kochan’s hands start to move in a way that he had never been taught. When he comes out of his erotic trance, he sees “cloudy-white splashes” all over. His enthusiasm spreads to a classmate, Omi, who is known for his “big thing.” But Kochan doesn’t just want flesh; he wants blood, too. The idea that a man is haunted by desire, which is both reprehensible and irresistible, is very real.
Ulysses by James Joyce (1922)
Even if you’re not a fan of books, you can still celebrate Bloomsday on June 16, which is the day in 1904 when Ulysses began to happen as Leopold Bloom ran around Dublin. Because that date was important to Joyce because it was the day he got the first of many hand-jobs from the woman who would become his wife, Nora Barnacle.
A lot of what Leo Bloom does in Ulysses is about finding time and space to get clean. This is why critic Christopher Hitchens called Ulysses a “mastur-piece.” The book’s famous ending shows Molly, who is alone in bed, reliving her sexual history in her mind (the latest being “Blazes” Boylan, with his “big, red brute of a thing” and the “tremendous amount of spunk” in him.) The idea that “it would be much better for the world to be run by women” comes to her mind. This might be seen as a piece of Joycean feminism. However, one might also think that Joyce was playing with an imaginary group of women, hoping for a warm hand.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence (1928)
Here’s a book that’s more likely to be laughed at than read. It’s easy to think of it as a horny-handed story about a rich bird who meets a poor one. The gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors, does teach Constance Chatterley about having sex. Her war-wounded husband can no longer do the job.
Mellors, on the other hand, is not just a brute, and neither was Lawrence. He wants to make sure he and his girlfriend “go off together,” and Lawrence does his best to make Connie feel like she’s having sex (“like a flapping overlapping of soft flames, soft as feathers, running to points of brilliance”).
Lawrence risked his life to write about sex. When he wrote The Rainbow (1915), he tried to write about a lesbian relationship. He was prosecuted, and half of the print run was burned in front of the public. Lady Chatterley didn’t come out until 1960, which led to a huge obscenity trial for its publisher, Penguin. Barristers and literary critics argued over whether Lawrence was being too “reverent” when he talked about “the weight of a man’s balls.” But Penguin won the case, so even Fanny Hill was published properly for the first time in a long time after. Lawrence owes us all.
Vox by Nicholson Baker (1992)
People think of Nicholson Baker as a “boffin” rather than a “pornography.” He used to write technical manuals before turning to fiction. Baker, on the other hand, has become the person who buys smut because of books like 1994’s The Fermata, which is about a man who can freeze time and then does what you’d expect (say no more). Baker’s best and most fun filth, though, is Vox, which is a lot of fun.
Vox is a conversation between Jim and Abby, two nice, smart, middle-class Americans who have a lot of fun with their dirty minds. They talk on a private phone-sex line. Despite the fact that you might think they called for one thing, they talk to each other happily. It is still true that they go back to their favorite fantasies about masturbation, however (his concentrated on lingerie catalogues, hers about being triple-teamed by hunky painter-decorators). It doesn’t matter that Abby doesn’t like the word “masturbation,” because “dithering myself off” is what she calls it. For her, a dick is called a “Delgado,” which is named after an old boyfriend. For Jim, tits are called “frans” (he just likes the sound of it).
If you’re expecting a climax like this, you’re not going to be disappointed. Abby is reduced to fervent monosyllables: “Oh!” You could say that words didn’t work out for Mr. Baker in this case. However, on the other hand, we can see very clearly how she’s feeling; and what more, really, could a body ask for.
The White Hotel by DM Thomas (1981)
“My sexuality might be a little too high. I sometimes think I’m crazy about it.” Lisa Erdman, a fictional patient of Sigmund Freud, says this in a beautiful and harrowing look at his work. Freud tried to show us how weird we are, but some people thought he had sex on the brain. As much as we want to live, we also want to die, says Freud. Documents about the case of Mrs. Erdman, who went to Freud’s Vienna clinic in 1919, show that few books can mix sex and death in this way.
It hurts her abdomen and breast. She also has hallucinations when she thinks about sex. A long poem that even the doctor thinks is “pornographic”: This is what Freud shares with her. When I saw him, his prick was up. Me and my crotch began to flood. But, the poem is the key to hidden tragedies, secrets, and lies that have been kept from us. Setting: The place where her fantasy life will be set is in an old house “It’s called “the white hotel.” “He got so far up into me, my still half-winter heart / burst into sudden flower,” she says. There was a shaking in the white hotel, as well as the mountains “Is this what you meant? Freud doesn’t know that Lisa is having a kind of clairvoyance about what will happen to her when the world is in turmoil again.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
You’d read Lolita the same way you would read Lady Chatterley. You’d be told which page to read. As a result, we don’t find many cheap thrills, but instead one of the best first-person voices in literature when we’re tempted by the same reasons. This is what young Amis found out. In his mind, Humbert Humbert is a master of “girl-children,” which he calls “nymphets” (“those lovely, maddening, thin-armed nymphets”). But now that Lolita, 12, has been ruined by Humbert, he knows that he is a bad person who steals children’s childhoods.
Nabokov was a fan of naughty things: he read the French magazine Oui and liked books that were sexy. However, his wife was very strict about indecent literature. She didn’t want any of that in her house. One thinks about this now when it comes to Lolita: it’s a great book, but some parents might not want to keep it in their house.