shades of grey

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Secret Desire (2012)

Shades of Gray (Original title: Fifty Shades ) is an erotic novel - trilogy by the British author EL James from 2011 and 2012 . The English title is a play on words and means both 50 shades of gray and 50 shades of (Christian) Gray . The film adaptation of the first part appeared in 2015.

The trilogy portrays the relationship between 21-year-old student Anastasia Steele and six-year-old billionaire entrepreneur and billionaire Christian Gray. The novel series became known through the description of BDSM practices. The first volume topped the bestseller lists in several countries, including those of the United States and the United Kingdom . The trilogy has sold over 5.7 million times in Germany. More than 100 million copies of the trilogy have been sold worldwide. The first novel is considered the UK's fastest paperback ever sold , ahead of the paperback editions of the Harry Potter novels. Most critics gave the series negative reviews.


Fifty Shades of Gray - Secret Desires (Volume 1)

The 21-year-old literature student Anastasia Steele (Ana) meets the 27-year-old entrepreneur and billionaire Christian Gray, a classic Byronic hero , in an interview and immediately feels drawn to him. Gradually, Christian takes control of Ana's emotional world. As she gets to know him better, she learns that his sexual tendencies include bondage , dominance and sadism , and that he was deeply traumatized by cold feelings, neglect and violence in his childhood. She gets more involved in his BDSM games and ultimately hopes for a deeper relationship and more closeness. But Christian also notices, who first resolutely defends himself against his feelings, that he wants more from her than just dominating her.

Fifty Shades of Gray (Volume 2)

After the breakup, Ana gets an assistant job at a publishing house, which Christian promptly buys. Her manager, Jack, loses his job following sexual harassment, and Ana is promoted. Christian brings Ana to the opening of José. Ana and Christian get back together, but in a relationship with no rules or contract. An ex- sub , Leila, stalks Ana and threatens her with a gun. Ana meets Christian's SM trainer, Mrs. Robinson. Christian and Ana are very preoccupied with their self-doubts and feelings, wondering if they deserve each other, and both continue to develop. After the incident with Leila, Christian is afraid that Ana will split up with him, and so the marriage proposal is made. Ana doesn't refuse, but doesn't say yes either, because everything is going too fast for her and because Christian has revealed to her that he enjoys beating brunette women because they look like his birth mother. After long deliberation, Ana answered this question with “Yes” on his birthday.

Fifty Shades of Gray (Volume 3)

During the honeymoon across Europe, the wedding on Christian’s parents’s estate is looked back on. The honeymoon runs smoothly, but is suddenly interrupted by an arson attack in the Gray House. Back in everyday life, love has to prove itself in various situations with demons from the past: Leila and another sub, Susannah, reappear, classmate and best friend Kate becomes engaged to Christian's brother Elliot, Ana and Christian are persecuted, they find one Dream house. Ana's stepfather Ray, with whom she grew up, is in a coma after a traffic accident.

Her former supervisor Jack, who convicted the helicopter to be arson and sabotaged, is arrested while trying to kidnap Ana from her apartment. A surprising, unplanned pregnancy and Mrs. Robinson lead to renewed dissonance. Jack - who felt passed over during the adoption - is surprisingly released on bail (as revenge from the horned ex-husband Mrs. Robinsons). He and the HR manager Elizabeth kidnap Mia, Christian's sister, and blackmail Ana, who is not allowed to confide in anyone. Spectacularly she gets the ransom and shoots Jack when it is handed over. Christian worries about her at the bedside, but can make friends with the role of father. This is followed by episodes in the new house with her now 2-year-old son Ted and the pregnancy with a daughter.

The book ends with a few scenes from Christian's perspective: the first Christmas as an adopted child with the Grays and as a reprise the interview scene, the visit to the hardware store from the first book.


EL James first published Fifty Shades of Gray from 2009 under the title The Master of the Universe as fan fiction for Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga on fan fiction websites under the pseudonym Snowqueens Icedragon .

After criticizing the details of BDSM practices that deal with dominance and submission, playful punishment and pleasure pain or bondage games, EL James designed the sequel stories and published them on her own website at The writer later changed the names of her main characters to Anastasia Steele and Christian Gray and deleted the story on


The revised version was published as an e-book and from May 2011 as a paperback for the first time under the title Fifty Shades of Gray , published by the independent publisher The Writer's Coffee Shop in Australia.

The second volume, Fifty Shades Darker , was published in September 2011 and the third, Fifty Shades Freed , followed in January 2012. The Writer's Coffee Shop had a small marketing budget and relied largely on reviews of literary blogs - the novels were selling then amplified by word of mouth.

On April 3, 2012, Knopf Verlag launched Fifty Shades of Gray in the USA . The two following volumes appeared two weeks later. To keep up with the enormous demand, the publisher had up to 950,000 copies of the three novels reprinted each week. By the end of May 2012, over ten million books in the trilogy had been sold in the United States. At the beginning of July 2012, the number of copies sold in the US was already over 20 million.

The German translation of the first volume was published on July 9, 2012 under the title Shades of Gray by Goldmann Verlag .


The English-language journalistic criticism found the term "Mommy porn - fantasy excesses written by women for women" for the 1200-page novel. The literary level is consistently criticized in the German feuilletons and the books are given terms such as “kitsch” and “doctor's novel without a doctor”.

The series has been widely criticized for misrepresenting BDSM relationships. The British psychologist Susan Quilliam came to the conclusion in an interview that Christian Gray “breaks every rule of BDSM” and that his portrayals in the BDSM scene are widely rejected. The British erotic writer Sophie Morgan wrote in the Guardian that Fifty Shades of Gray did not describe BDSM but abuse. A BDSM relationship is based on voluntariness, while the character Christian Gray instead practices domestic violence , both mentally and physically.

In a volume of essays published by Suhrkamp in 2013 , the Israeli cultural sociologist Eva Illouz writes about the social aspects in Shades of Gray . She asks why the book is so popular with women. She sees it based on the fact that modern relationships are characterized by uncertainty about roles . BDSM would then be a strategy for overcoming the dilemmas of "the heterosexual struggle that characterizes the relationship between Ana and Gray." The actors gain a restabilization of gender roles that would be compatible with sexual freedom. Illouz sees the contractual nature of relationships as the main theme of the book. In an interview with the TAZ about her essay, she admits that the related questions, such as the freedom of people in relationships, are not necessarily answered. She believes the success is based on the fact that we still live in a world of profound patriarchy , especially in the field of love relationships. Women were concerned with how far they should go in a relationship and for a partner and at the same time satisfying themselves and all that in order to be loved. Ana is completely sexually submissive but the dominant in the rest of the relationship, she tells him very clearly what she wants. "This constant role reversal makes the novel so attractive and ensures that women can identify with Anastasia." Another possible point of identification in the trilogy is the aspect of social mobility of the protagonist Ana, who at the beginning of the story is still a student with a part-time job in is a hardware store, ends up marrying the rich millionaire Gray and receiving an entire publishing house from him. Carina Gröner analyzes money and economic success in history as symbolically generalized communication media in the sense of Niklas Luhmann , which reveal social advancement through the mutual exchange of monetary gifts and sexuality as an unspoken motivation.

In 2016, Ilka Quindeau , sociologist and psychoanalyst , focused on a current “discomfort in sexuality” under the title Lust, Control and Fifty Shades of Gray . The novel supposedly offers solutions for conflicts "that result from an overwhelming abundance of opportunities for sexual satisfaction and from insecurities with regard to gender roles", but at the same time it makes the irritating aspect of sexuality invisible again. According to Quindeau, the " aporias of desire" - that is, the hopelessness - are not dealt with.

The novel Fifty Shades of Gray is central to the plot in the 2018 film Book Club , in which Diane Keaton , Jane Fonda and Don Johnson star .


In March 2012, Universal Pictures and Focus Features secured the rights to the trilogy.

In June 2012, the production studio "Smash Pictures" announced its intention to release a porn adaptation of the trilogy entitled Fifty Shades of Gray: A XXX Adaptation . The release date was given as January 10, 2013. In November 2012, Universal Pictures filed a lawsuit against Smash Pictures on the grounds that the film infringed copyright and was not made as a porn parody. The proceedings ended with an out-of-court settlement.

On September 3, 2013, Erika Leonard briefed the press about the cast of the main roles. Charlie Hunnam has been announced for the role of Christian Gray and Dakota Johnson for the role of Anastasia Steele. On October 13, 2013, however, Hunnam withdrew from the project. Irish-British actor Jamie Dornan took on the role of Christian Gray. As a director, Sam Taylor-Johnson was hired. On February 11, 2015, the film adaptation of the first part under the title Fifty Shades of Gray had its premiere at the 65th Berlinale. The second part, Fifty Shades of Gray, was released on February 9, 2017. The director took James Foley .


The musical parody “49½ Shades of Gray” premiered in 2014 in Düsseldorf. The director Gerburg Jahnke staged a musical and created a parody of the erotic bestseller.


The soundtrack ( EMI Classics) for the book trilogy has been available in Germany since mid-September 2012 . Classical music plays a role in the book and the author herself chose the pieces for the album.


  • Fifty Shades of Gray (2011), German: Shades of Gray - Secret Desire , translation: Andrea Brandl and Sonja Hauser, Goldmann Verlag, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-442-47895-8 .
  • Fifty Shades Darker (2011), German: Shades of Gray - Dangerous Love , Translation: Andrea Brandl and Sonja Hauser, Goldmann Verlag, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-442-47896-5 .
  • Fifty Shades Freed (2012), German: Shades of Gray - Freed Lust , translation: Andrea Brandl and Sonja Hauser, Goldmann Verlag, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-442-47897-2 .

Audio books


  • Lisa Appignanesi , Rachel Holmes, Susie Orbach (Eds.): Fifty Shades of Feminism . Virago, London 2013, ISBN 978-1-84408-945-1 .
  • Eva Illouz : The new order of love, women, men and Shades of Gray. Suhrkamp, ​​Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-518-06487-0 .
  • Carina Gröner : Seduced by preconditions. The Eroticism of Power, Money and Love in Goethe, Sacher-Masoch and EL James. In: Kaminski, Johannes D. (Ed.): Erotic Literature in Adaption and Translation. Cambridge: Legenda. Modern Humanities Research Association, 2018, ISBN 978-1-78188-521-5 , pp. 78-90.
  • Ilka Quindeau : Lust, Control and Fifty Shades of Gray. Recent psychoanalytic concepts on gender and sexuality . In: Free Association. Irritating sexually . tape 19 , no. 1 , 2016, ISSN  1434-7849 , p. 43-65 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The gold donkey of fiction ,
  2. Fifty weeks of 'Fifty Shades of Gray' , (March 15, 2013), accessed March 16, 2013
  3. 'Mummy porn' Fifty Shades Of Gray outstrips Harry Potter to become fastest selling paperback of all time Article on (June 18, 2012), accessed on February 13, 2013. The Potter novels, however, were initially published as bound books Book, and months later as a paperback. Only the sales figures in the first few days after the publication of the respective paperback edition are compared here.
  4. Gray on 'Fifty Shades of Gray'. Retrieved April 7, 2016 . Fifty Shades of Gray and the Byronic Hero. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on April 7, 2016 ; Retrieved April 7, 2016 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Captivating reading - review by Marie Dové Tages-Anzeiger of March 13, 2012, accessed on June 20, 2012
  6. Fifty Shades Trilogy Tops 10 Million Sold In: Publishers Weekly, May 22, 2012. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  7. Carolyn Kellogg: 50 Shades of Gray series hitting the 20 million mark in sales In: Los Angeles Times, July 9, 2012. Retrieved July 14, 2012.
  8. ^ Thomas Kielinger: Praise and blame for society's pornography. Die Welt, The Literary World, June 30, 2012, p. 2
  9. Book review in the time , tough togetherness : "unbearably girlish diary style".
  10. Features of the FAZ : A literary anorexia therapy
  11. WAZ : "Mütterporno" without linguistic highlights
  12. Neue Zürcher Zeitung : Even bad sex sells well : "The books are pitifully badly written, the action patterns as repetitive as the linguistic arsenal".
  13. Berliner Zeitung , porn bestseller: Sugar Loaf and Whip : "An SM novel in SMS language"
  14. Clemens J. Setz in an interview in Wiener Standard : “It's a shame about every sentence. Lifeless language, false images, absurd millionaire seduction ”.
  15. gofeminine, 50 Shades of Gray : This is part 3 ( Memento of the original from April 28, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. : "In the last part of the trilogy all the stops are pulled to lead the story to an incredibly kitschy ending". @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  16. The Austrian woman , Fifty Shades of Gray 3: Reading sample : "Your book trilogy is a kind of doctor novel without a doctor, but with doctor games".
  17. Susan Donaldson James: BDSM Advocates Worry About 'Fifty Shades of Gray' Sex . ABC News . October 2, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  18. ^ Sophie Morgan : 'I like submissive sex but Fifty Shades is not about fun: it's about abuse' . The Guardian . August 25, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  19. Illouz 2013, pp. 56–61
  20. Illouz 2013, p. 67
  21. tageszeitung: “I'm for nerds!” - Interview with Eva Illouz, July 13, 2013
  22. Gröner 2018, pp. 84–87
  23. Ilka Quindeau : Lust, Control and Fifty Shades of Gray. Recent psychoanalytic concepts on gender and sexuality . In: Free Association. Irritating sexually . tape 19 , no. 1 , 2016, ISSN  1434-7849 , p. 43–65 ( [accessed July 20, 2020]).
  24. Markus Brunner, Christine Kirchhoff, Julia König, Jan Lohl, Tom Uhlig, Sebastian Winter: Free Association. Journal of Psychoanalytic Social Psychology. (PDF; 969 KB) 2016, p. 6 , accessed on July 20, 2020 .
  25. Fleming, Mike. Universal Pictures and Focus Features win Fifty Shades of Gray ,, March 26, 2012, accessed October 11, 2012.
  26. "Leading actors are fixed" , n-tv online, September 3, 2013, accessed on September 3, 2013
  27. "Fifty Shades of Gray": Charlie Hunnam doesn't play Christian Gray Focus online from October 10, 2013
  28. ^ Fifty Shades of Gray
  29. "49 1/2 Shades of Gray" celebrates its Hamburg premiere ( Memento from June 13, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) - ( NDR from January 11, 2014)
  30. "50 Shades Of Gray": EMI Classics presents soundtrack ( memento of the original from November 7, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. from August 10, 2012, accessed on October 11, 2012. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /