Smutty quotes from distinguished authors
February 14, 2007 8:30 AM   Subscribe

I need the perfect quote that relates writing to physical pleasure, titillation, and yes, sex.

My publishing company is putting out a comp of erotica (we steer clear of that word because it's so... "ick," but that's technically what it is) and we need a quote to go on the first page of the book. I've been researching quotes from Henry Miller, Anais Nin, and Vladimir Nabokov in hopes to find a literary figure's inside take on writing about sex and pleasure, or comparing the two activities. I've found adequate quotes, but they're from lesser known authors, and I'd prefer someone well-known in the larger literary community. Help, please?
posted by papier machine to Writing & Language (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

I'm at work so won't google it myself, but look at some of James Joyce's letters to his wife, there may be something there.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 8:45 AM on February 14, 2007

Here's a whole list of famous sex quotes. HTH!
posted by sprocket87 at 9:28 AM on February 14, 2007

That's great, thanks, but I'm specifically hunting for quotes that deal both with sex, pleasure AND writing or fiction or literature.
posted by papier machine at 9:37 AM on February 14, 2007

Maybe not quite what you're looking for, but hey.

since feeling is first

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a far better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
--the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for eachother: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

--e e cummings
posted by Skot at 10:07 AM on February 14, 2007 [3 favorites]

I may be alone here, but "the pen is mightier than the sword" has always struck me as somewhat smutty, if you use a little bit of imagination.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:26 AM on February 14, 2007

Maybe this helps...

"We are the recorders and reporters of facts-not the judges of the behaviors we describe." - Alfred Kinsey

"Writing is a lot like sex. At first you do it because you like it. Then you find yourself doing it for a few close friends and people you like. But if you're any good at end up doing it for money." - no idea who said it

"I tell my students you have an absolute right to write about people you know and love. You do. But the kicker is you have a responsibility to make the characters large enough that you will not have sinned against them." - Dorothy Allison
posted by AlliKat75 at 10:35 AM on February 14, 2007

Yu should check out this post on the blue.
posted by taliaferro at 10:48 AM on February 14, 2007

"Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire. "

- Roland Barthes, A Lovers Discourse: Fragments
posted by juv3nal at 10:50 AM on February 14, 2007 [8 favorites]

"Human beings are divided into mind and body. The mind embraces all the nobler aspirations, like poetry and philosophy, but the body has all the fun."

--Woody Allen, "Love and Death"
posted by Skot at 11:00 AM on February 14, 2007

"His strong manly hands probed every crevice of her silken femininity, their undulating bodies writhing in sensual rhythm, as he thrust his purple-headed warrior into her quivering mound of love pudding." -- The Naked Gun 2 & 1/2
posted by wfrgms at 11:20 AM on February 14, 2007

Well, there's always the quote from one of the great literary figures, Dr. Samuel Johnson, on the topic of sex:

"The expense is damnable, the position is ridiculous, and the pleasure fleeting."

Occasionally attributed to another literary giant, GK Chesterton, though he might have been reworking Johnson. Ahh, so to speak. A pithy quote on both your topics that contains much truth.
posted by mdevore at 11:45 AM on February 14, 2007

I think you could almost certainly find something suitable in Leaves of Grass. It might take a little searching to find just the right quote, but Whitman is so ecstatic about sex, pleasure, and poetry -- you're sure to find what you need.

Plus, he's canon. Who's going to dare call your erotica disrespectable if you've got Whitman on your side?

It would be impossible for me to list all the applicable quotes, but here are some representatives:


Stop this day and night with me, and you shall possess the origin of all poems ...

- “Song of Myself”


Urge, and urge, and urge;
Always the procreant urge of the world.

Out of the dimness opposite equals advance—always substance and increase, always sex;
Always a knit of identity—always distinction—always a breed of life.

- “Song of Myself”


I am the poet of the Body;
And I am the poet of the Soul.

The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me;
The first I graft and increase upon myself -- the latter I translate into a new tongue.

- “Song of Myself”


I am he that aches with amorous love;
Does the earth gravitate? Does not all matter, aching, attract all matter?
So the Body of me, to all I meet, or know.

- "I Am He Who Aches With Love"
posted by ourobouros at 1:46 PM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Physics is like sex - sometimes it yields practical results but that's not why we do it." - Richard Feynmann
posted by Brian James at 2:17 PM on February 14, 2007

needs more cowbell: I may be alone here, but "the pen is mightier than the sword" has always struck me as somewhat smutty, if you use a little bit of imagination.

Celebrity Jeopardy: "I'll take 'The Penis Mightier, Alex."

posted by spaceman_spiff at 3:37 PM on February 14, 2007

"I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [of hardcore pornography]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that."

-- Justice Potter Stewart, Jacobellis vs. Ohio, 1964
posted by rob511 at 5:32 PM on February 14, 2007

"...writing is a legal way of avoiding work without actually stealing and one that doesn't take any talent or training. But writing is antisocial. It's as solitary as masturbation."

And, on the same theme:

"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards."

Both from Robert A. Heinlein.
posted by enrevanche at 12:58 PM on February 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you haven't read Jeannette Winterson's Written on the Body, now's the time. Whole novel, yes, but it's a fast read -- intensely absorbing in that "where did those six hours go?" way. Beyond Leaves of Grass, it's the most direct response to this question I know of. (By direct I mean directly applicable to the question, not literal/simplistic.)
posted by allterrainbrain at 6:01 PM on February 15, 2007

No, no, no. Go in an entirely different direction. Here's my suggestion:
Ms. Nilsson, reached at Sunnyside Elementary School in Durango, Colo., said she had heard from dozens of librarians who agreed with her stance. “I don’t want to start an issue about censorship,” she said. “But you won’t find men’s genitalia in quality literature.”

“At least not for children,” she added.
The New York Times.

Works with our without the punchline.
posted by rafter at 4:06 PM on February 22, 2007

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