Posts tagged Love on the Dole
Posts tagged Love on the Dole
I remember, sometime around the age of 11 or 12, when I discovered that books — as in, real, serious literature (not marketed as paperback romances)— were a font of information about sex.
To what did I owe this startling discovery?
Either to Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke, in which the heroine and hero make love before his tragic death in a fire; or to the numerous cavepeople sex scenes in Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear.
OK, in retrospect, probably neither of these books ranks up there with the classics that I was later to read, and which I mention below. Nevertheless, whichever book came first — in my memory, I hope that it was Pullman’s, because I consider him a superior author, and I love Victorian romances — ever since that early age, I have looked to books as a source of erotic inspiration. No wonder, then, that I enjoy reading and writing erotic fan fiction so much.
I like books that are erotica proper, like Anaïs Nin’s Pretty Birds, or John Cleland’s The Memoirs of Fanny Hill, or de Musset’s Gamiani. Older erotica, especially, is fascinating to read, because of what it teaches us about the mores and prohibitions of a given era.
I also enjoy books where sex is a major theme, or where sex drives the plot, as in:
- Defoe’s Moll Flanders
- Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter
- James Baldwin’s Another Country
- Almost every book by D.H. Lawrence (who, of course, is my favorite author)
- Graham Greene’s The Heart of the Matter, The Quiet American, The End of the Affair
- Marguerite Duras’ The Chinese Lover (thanks to havingbeenbreathedout for reminding me of this book!)
- Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach
- Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence
- Thomas Hardy’ Tess of the d’Ubervilles and Far from the Madding Crowd
- Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (how could we forget Humbert Humbert in our list of sexual predators?)
And then there are those books where the erotic, if not the sexual, underlies the narrative, as in:
- Emily Brontë’sWuthering Heights
- her dear sister Charlotte’s Jane Eyre
- Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God
- Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady
- George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda
What else would you add to this list? I admit to having a preference for erotic books that fall outside of the ‘romance’/Harlequin genre, and would like to know what others have found in the ‘serious literature’ camp. And if you’re interested, I’ll share some of my opinions about the above books. And please, if you disagree with how I’ve categorized them, please let me know!
I read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter at a young age and as far as I can remember it was the first work of literature I encountered that had references to sex in it and it includes some more nudity later on too, if I am recollecting it correctly. Rather surprising for a generic novel in the mid-1800s!
There are also literary depictions of sex or at least -implicit or explicit- thoughts on sex in non-fiction. Two examples that spring to mind are Orwell’s Road to Wigan Pier and Capote’s In Cold Blood.
Back in the fictional world of literature, there are some novels that portray how sex can be a negative thing when it is combined with poverty, lack of contraceptives, lack of safe sex, lack of education or abuse…or all of the above. Often these novels are about the 1930s, which is not a coincidence. The Great Depression. The Dirty Thirties. The Interwar Years. The following are not exactly happy reading:
The best category though, is the thought-provoking and realistic one in which the writer delves into the plot with great detail and the characters are complex and interesting. These are some of my favourites: