Erotic literature

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Ovid's love art (Ars amatoria) in a German edition from 1644

Erotic literature ( Erotikon , pl. Erotika) is a branch of erotic art and includes literary texts with an erotic background, especially if they are illustrated by appropriate images.

It is difficult to distinguish the term “erotic” - and thus also of erotic literature - from sexuality and love . In the case of a pictorial representation, a distinction must be made between whether it is actually aimed at an erotic effect, such as a naked woman in a clear posture, or whether it is - in contrast to this - a picture that is attached to an instructive text for illustrative explanation. For example, in the pictorial representation of the biblical creation story of Adam and Eve before the Fall, their nudity stands for paradise innocence and has nothing to do with eroticism. Classical writers and poets - like Ovid in his love art - wrote instructive texts on sexuality and eroticism, but distinguished themselves from unequivocally pornographic literature through linguistic and stylistic means .

The assignment of texts and images to erotic literature has changed over time and is assessed differently in the individual cultures. In a broader sense, the erotic literature includes manuals from the Kamasutra to The Joy of Sex as well as fictional poems, stories and novels with predominantly erotic content.

History of erotic literature

20th century

In Great Britain , DH Lawrence published his novel The Rainbow in 1915 , the theme of which was the impossibility of maintaining the closeness and intimacy of two people that had grown out of an erotic encounter beyond sex. The question of how loving human relationships can exist in an industrialized, thoroughly rationalized society, also haunted him in the rest of his work, most recently in the novel Lady Chatterley (1928). In both The Rainbow and Lady Chatterley , Lawrence had explicitly and extensively portrayed human eroticism and as a result came into conflict with the censorship authority.

In 1922, James Joyce's novel Ulysses was published in Great Britain , which is considered to be groundbreaking for modern literature. The work is usually not assigned to erotic literature; but the characterization of two of the main characters in this novel - Gerty MacDowell and Molly Bloom - is largely based on their sexuality .

Henry Miller wrote a number of novels in the 1930s and 1940s that identified their author as a champion of sexual liberation . His characters are in search of themselves ; The exploration of eros and the associated breaking of taboos are part of a program for human liberation. His work Tropic of Cancer (1934) was included in the list of the 100 best English-language novels by the British newspaper The Guardian in 2015 . Anaïs Nin , who was heavily influenced literarily by Miller, wrote her collection of erotic stories The Delta of Venus in the 1940s (published only after the author's death in 1977). The volume, written as a potboiler for an anonymous collector of erotica, contains blunt sexual representations as well as a high degree of poetry.

A boom in the United States in the 1970s was the Bodice Ripper novel, a subgenre of trivial romance novels that used elements of the adventure novel and historical novel but told their stories from the perspective of the main female character. The focus of these stories was always the “conquest” of the young woman, who is characterized as irresistible but also “indomitable”, by the daring and villainous man to whom she finally surrenders lovingly. Bodice Ripper novels regularly contained explicit descriptions of sexual acts, which, however, made up only a small proportion of the total volume of obese books. Was used as the romanticized depiction of sexual violence by the feminist become sensitized readers during the 1980s and 1990s perceived as increasingly strange new subgenres took the place of the Bodice Ripper erotic romance novels that instead of "forced seduction" ( Engl. Forced seduction ) only showed consensual sex. The Bodice-ripper novels of the 1970s were in the press considering its almost exclusively female readership as an early form of a type of "mommy porn" (English. Mommy porn ) classified, for in the early 2010s EL James ' novel series Shades of Gray has become proverbial.

In France, the feminist writer Benoîte Groult published her novel Les vaisseaux du cœur in 1988 , which in a very revealing way tells of the passionate love between a Parisian intellectual and a simple Breton fisherman. This work, too, was initially discredited by critics as being pornographic.

Digital collective editions

Erotic literature on the internet

In the mid-1990s, with the advent of the Internet, a wave of publications of so-called sex stories began , mostly in English on the so-called Usenet . Prominent English-speaking authors on the Usenet include Mary Ann Mohanraj (who is now publishing her works in book form), Dulcinea († 1997), Deirdre (156 short stories), Elf Sternberg ( Journal Entries , SF), Uther Pendragon (his main work is the stories about the Brennans), Al Steiner ( Aftermath ), Selena Jardine (lesbian eroticism), Frank Downey ( Dance of a Lifetime , romantic), Adrian Hunter (bondage) and Nick Scipio (including Summer Camp ).

Secondary literature

reference books

  • Almut Oetjen (ed.): Lexicon of erotic literature. Authors, works, topics, aspects. Loose-leaf edition from 1992, ISBN 3-89048-050-0 .
  • Gaëtan Brulotte (Ed.), John Phillips: Encyclopedia of erotic literature. Routledge, New York (NY) et al. a. 2006.
  • Hansjürgen Blinn (ed.): Classics of erotic literature. Electronic Resource (CD-ROM), Small Digital Library Volume 19, Directmedia Publishing Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-89853-319-5 .

Articles in reference books



  • John Atkins: Sex in literature. 4 volumes, 1970–1982.
  • Paul English : History of Erotic Literature. 1927, Reprint 1977, ISBN 3-921695-01-5 .
  • Carolin Fischer: Gardens of Lust. A story of exciting reading. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 1997, ISBN 3-476-01563-7 , as TB: Dt. Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 2000.
  • Hiltrud Gnüg, The erotic novel. From the renaissance to the present. Reclam, Ditzingen 2002, ISBN 3-15-017634-4 .
  • Eberhard and Phyllis Kronhausen: Books from the poison cabinet. An analysis of the forbidden and ostracized erotic literature. 1969.
  • Hermann Schreiber: Erotic Texts. Sexual pathological phenomena in literature. 1969.
  • Alessandro Bertolotti, Guida alla letteratura erotica. Odoya, 2015,  ISBN 978-8862882842 .

Ancient and Middle Ages

  • G. Leick: Sex and eroticism in Mesopotamian literature. 1994, ISBN 0-415-06534-8 .
  • S. Mulchandani: Erotic literature of ancient India. Kama Sutra, Koka Shastra, Gita Govindam, Ananga Ranga. 2006, ISBN 81-7436-384-X .
  • Ali Ghandour: Lust and Favor: Sex and Eroticism among Muslim Scholars. 2015, ISBN 978-3981755107 .

Modern times to 1900

After 1900

  • Ian Frederick Moulton: Before pornography. Erotic writing in early modern. Oxford University Press, Oxford / New York, NY 2000, ISBN 0-19-513709-4 ( English ).
  • Carsten Pfeiffer (Ed.): Wicked Poems - 170 poems by German poet princes with 16 drastic illustrations. 1st edition. Walde + Graf Publishing Agency and Verlag Berlin GmbH, Berlin 2017, ISBN 978-3-945330-27-2 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Identity in Ulysses: Sexuality of Gerty MacDowell and Molly Bloom. Retrieved January 23, 2018 .
  2. ^ Rob Woodard: Here's to Henry Miller. In: The Guardian. October 12, 2007, accessed January 23, 2018 .
  3. ^ Book Review - Delta of Venus. Retrieved January 23, 2018 .
  4. 'Mommy Porn' Is On The Rise. In: The Huffington Post. March 27, 2013, accessed July 15, 2016 . Mommy Porn Goes Global. In: Toronto Life. December 13, 2013, accessed July 15, 2016 .
  5. Martin Halter: Angry to the power of men. In: Frankfurter Rundschau. June 21, 2016, accessed December 13, 2019 .