"Erotica is using a feather, pornography is using the whole chicken"
August 3, 2011 6:18 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to foray into the world of erotic literature. I'm looking for classic, "quintessential" books with which to start. Where should I begin?

I'm looking specifically for titles that exhibit beautiful, almost poetic descriptions of erotic situations. All suggestions are welcome.

Bonus: Feel free to add anything you'd like on the subject of erotic literature. I'd really like to be educated on the subject and history. Or at least pointed in the right direction.

Many thanks, MeFites!
posted by Vrai to Writing & Language (18 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
At last, something I know something about.

Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin

Fanny Hill Or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland

The Story of O by Pauline Reage

The Sexual Life of Catherine M. by Catherine Millet

and, yes really, Emmanuelle by Emmanuelle Arsan
posted by joannemullen at 6:32 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Venus in Furs, by Leopard von Sacher-Masoch
posted by james.nvc at 6:36 AM on August 3, 2011

The 120 Days of Sodom, this is a quintessential erotic book, but it is much closer to horrific smut than it is to anything else.
posted by 517 at 6:41 AM on August 3, 2011

Err..are we considering books that have erotic content but have a wider audience base because it is considered fantasy or historic fiction? If that is so then I am throwing out _Valley of the Horses_ by Auel. It was mentioned more than once by book club ladies as being highly appreciated by their husbands. Lord knows, there is plenty of content in the supernatural romance field as well though to be honest, I consider Laurel K. Hamilton more the bucket of chicken school of porn as referenced in the thread title.
posted by jadepearl at 6:51 AM on August 3, 2011

Do you have a Kindle? There's an 1828 (yep, that's 1828) book by Anonymous entitled "The Lustful Turk". Erotic content + gorgeous language.
posted by easily confused at 6:53 AM on August 3, 2011

Maxim Jakubowski (ed.), The Mammoth Book of Erotica, has about thirty short stories from various authors. Some of them are really good, some of them not.
posted by Ahab at 7:08 AM on August 3, 2011

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by A.N. Roquelaure (pseudonym for Anne Rice) is about royalty serving as erotic slaves for a term, a cultural norm in this story.
posted by lizbunny at 7:14 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm looking specifically for titles that exhibit beautiful, almost poetic descriptions of erotic situations. All suggestions are welcome.

Emily: Or, the Voluptuous Delights of a Once-Innocent Young Lady : A Victorian Novel. It's smutty, but has a lot of that poetic description you're looking, not only in the acts themselves, but in the mindset of the title character and sexually charged atmosphere of the setting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:19 AM on August 3, 2011

posted by Jacen at 7:23 AM on August 3, 2011

Seconding Lizbunny's suggestions. I've read Anne Rice's erotic series and it's...pretty erotic. You should definitely check it out.
posted by Sweetmag at 7:37 AM on August 3, 2011

William Kotzwinkle's short story Jewel of the Moon
posted by marsha56 at 7:45 AM on August 3, 2011

Some say Nicholson Baker's new novel "House of Holes" will be a classic. I've not read it.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 9:37 AM on August 3, 2011

I'm not sure if you can consider a graphic novel to be Literature, but Lost Girls certainly has some literature-y writing and imagery in it. And oh boy, is it dirty.
posted by Fister Roboto at 10:29 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Carol Queen's The Leather Daddy and the Femme is a classic work of kinky erotica--and freaking hot, too.
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:02 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Autobiography of a Flea by Edward Avery.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:15 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Many thanks to everyone for such great suggestions!

Looks like I've got some reading to do. ;x

P.S: @Fister Roboto, The Lost Girls is one of my favourite graphic novels! Seriously dirty, but wilfully exquisite.
posted by Vrai at 5:01 PM on August 3, 2011

Nthing Anais Nin. Another author to check out is Cecelia Tan, especially Black Feathers.
posted by Anima Mundi at 7:23 PM on August 3, 2011

Word for word, the best piece of erotic literature I have ever read is James Salter's A Sport and a Pastime. Anais Nin is great too.

Also, if you'd be interested in reading some classical material, look no further than the lesbian poetry of the Ancient Greek poetess Sappho.
posted by rahulrg at 7:24 PM on August 3, 2011

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