Erotica: An Opinion Piece

Everyone has a guilty pleasure, whether they like to admit it or not. For some, it is a television show or a bad movie, to others it is clothing and accessories. However, for many, their guilty pleasure comes from the contents of an erotica book.

Erotica or ‘Erotic Literature’ has become a staple in society as it indulges the sexual fantasies of readers through the scenarios detailed with its pages. They come in different varieties for different readers, from the basic sexual scenario to the more graphic and kinky sex that is meant to shock and awe. With the recent success of the Fifty Shades of Grey novel as well as its adaption onto the silver screen, it seems only appropriate to discuss how erotic novels have become an embraced product as time has went on.

Some history is in order before we discuss modern day erotica. Some of the oldest forms of erotica can be found in the form of poetry dating back to Ancient Greece and Rome, with poems such as Charito and Demetrius the Fortunate. Erotic poetry has managed to last for quite some time as examples of it can be found throughout the twentieth century and even to this very day. Though more commonly enough, erotica is more associated with novellas and books that are a more recent invention. With the innovation of the printing press, erotic stories would become more available to the public’s view and consumption. One of the earliest forms of printed erotica was Historia de duobus amantibus or The Tale of Two Lovers, which was written by Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini who would later become Pope Pius the second in the year 1444. Yes, you read it right folks. A previous pope had written erotica, not all of them were saints.

It would become a bestselling book in the fifteenth century. As time went on, erotic literature would become more popular for readers, both men and women. However, during the Victorian period, the quality of erotic writing declined because of the mass production and release of novels. This would lead to some writers being called ‘hackney writers’ or hacks who would just dole out a quickly written and poor quality book for a small amount of money. Though thankfully, erotica would become better written with authors such as Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita) and Henry Miller (Tropic of Capricorn).

With the advent of the internet and self-publishing, there has been a boost in the release of erotic literature. Though the problem is that the quality of these written books is more or less questionable.

Some of the erotic literature that becomes successful and famous such as E.L James’ Fifty Shades trilogy is not successful because of the quality of the writing, but it is successful because of the content inside. I have nothing but respect for E.L James, and think that she should be proud of what she has accomplished. But after reading her first novel, I was extremely disappointed and had to question the content of her work. Grammatical errors are one thing, they are commonplace in writing and all authors miss a few, but the dialogue is stilted and almost laughable. Yes, the sex scenes although plentiful and graphic, the conversations between the main characters Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey (Refraining from porno name jokes) seem forced and unconvincing. It almost makes me question how this book became popular enough to be adapted into a movie.

Erotic Literature has also taken a strange turn as authors have written short novellas that take bizarre ideas and turn them into sexual scenarios. One example that would make anyone take a step back would be the work of Christie Sims. Over the years, she has written short stories detailing the sexual exploration of women as they mate with…are you sitting down for this? As they mate with dinosaurs. Yes, dinosaurs. She has written stories such as Taken by the Pterodactyl and In the Velociraptor’s Nest, where a tribal woman has become enamored with dinosaurs and had sex with them. I honestly have to ask, how does someone write this sort of story? Did they develop a crush on Barney the dinosaur when they were young, or do they one day watch Jurassic Park and go “I want to f*** the T-Rex”? I mean, these are not as erotic as they are hilariously bad. Go ahead, I dare you to read one of these stories and not laugh your a** off.

Truthfully, finding well written erotica can be difficult. What might be published and sold in stores might not be as good as what someone has written and published on the internet, and vice versa. My honest advice, search around and do your research. If you want to read something that is better quality, go to a sex shop. More commonly enough the employees/owners have read their fair share and would tell you what is recommended and would help you find what you are looking for.

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