Recent history has gifted us some fairly incredible erotic literature, much of it very shocking as it touches on the taboo aspects of sexuality and the realms of human fantasy. The erotic writing of these classics is elegantly written while exploring taboo themes that at times are both repulsive and enticing as they take the reader through a beautiful and dangerous sexual realm.
The Story of O – Pauline Réage
Published in 1954, this book was written by Anne Desclos under the pen name Pauline Réage, as a type of ongoing love letter to her lover Jean Paulhan, who was a fan of the Marquis de Sade. The book explores the themes of dominance and female submission in an Eyes Wide Shut-type of chateau where elite members enjoy sexual slaves.
Delta of Venus – Anaïs Nin
Anaïs Nin wrote these 15 erotic stories during the 1940s though the collection wasn’t published until 1977. Her erotic writing explores a variety of sexual encounters and situations, described with a poetic sensuality that is unique to her style. The stories were commissioned by a client known only as “The Collector” who also commissioned other writers such as Henry Miller and George Barker to write erotic fiction for him.
The Story of the Eye – Georges Bataille
Published in 1928 by French author Georges Bataille, this story is about a young couple who explore their sexuality in a variety of ways, including exhibitionism, orgies, and an infamous scenario involving hard boiled eggs inserted into sexual orifices. The couple develop a fascination with a mentally ill 16-year-old girl that ends tragically before they journey to Spain where they continue their debaucheries after meeting English aristocrat Lord Edmund.
Justine or The Misfortunes of Virtue – Marquis de Sade
Published in 1791 and written by the infamous Marquis De Sade (Donatien Alphonse Francois de Sade), this book is set during the French Revolution. A 26-year-old woman named Justine, also known as Therese, tells her story to Madame de Lorsagne on the way to receiving punishment and death for her crimes. She explains, in her own defense, the series of misfortunes that led to her current predicament. Her misfortunes include being made a sexual slave to monks and being used and tortured sexually by literally everyone she came across in her quest for virtue, from the age of 12 when she was orphaned.
Venus in Furs – Leopold von Sacher-Masoch
Published in 1870, this is a novella by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. The novel was inspired by Sacher-Masoch’s own life and the main character, Wanda von Dunajew, was based on the writer Fanny Pistor. This book explores male submission, female dominance, and sadomasochism as the story focuses on a man who is so infatuated with this woman that he asks to be her slave, begging her to treat him in degrading ways.
These classic novels explore eroticism in a dangerous and boundary breaking way that is as edgy now as it was on each of their release dates. This erotic writing style is the definition of timeless, influencing many modern writers while promising to continue its influence in the years to come.