I personally think there is a huge divide between pornography and erotica. Some people don’t. Then again some people will possibly have closed there browsers before they get further than that first line and some people will have found this blog for the first time because of it. Isn’t it interesting the power of the words… porn and erotica. Well today’s post is about the Madame of Erotica herself Anaïs Nin and author many have recommended I try and not for the reasons you might be thinking you mucky minded lot! Though this review could end up not being for the faint hearted or easily offended, you might want to avert your eyes.
As Anaïs Nin states herself in the preface of ‘Delta of Venus’ this collection was never really intended to be published, in fact when these tales were originally written they were simply created for someone she names only as ‘The Collector’ in order to bring in the money. What she did want to do with the erotic tales she wrote was create more of a story and flavour of literature rather than just the mechanical act itself. In fact reading these now, I imagine they were quite steamy stuff in the 1940’s, it’s the beautiful prose and the underlying themes that make Nin’s collection so interesting to read.
Yes ok so there is a lot, and I mean a lot, of sex in these stories but it’s not of the ‘wham bam thank you man variety’, well actually sometimes it is but behind each act there is a story and occasionally almost a moral to the whole tale. Reading these I was actually reminded of fables and folklore on more occasion, especially in tales such as ‘The Ring’ which takes place in Peru and looks at the madness love can create, the opening tale ‘The Hungarian Adventurer’ seems to have a moral twist looking at promiscuity and the responsibilities you have with it.
Through this collection of fifteen works Nin not only deals with differing kinds of sex from true love and true lust to acts of sadomasochism, she also looks at other things in life. Sexuality is naturally a big theme in a collection, there is a tale set in a Brazilian boarding school which deals with homosexuality on several levels and bisexuality is a recurrent theme but she also looks at peoples circumstances, lifestyles and their psychological states. This can lead to the darker side of life in fact in the collection there are some rather tragic tales. ‘Mathilde’ is the tale of a hat maker who men simply cannot resist, which starts of rather hilariously, yet soon she falls into the world of opium leading to harder drugs and dangerous and frightening circumstances for the heroine.
There are also moments of hilarity, in the aforementioned ‘Mathilde’ the way she gets propositioned by some ‘suitors’ is utterly hilarious. I wont share for fear of getting turned into an ‘adult site’, lets just say its comical and happens here there and everywhere. ‘Lilith’ which I think was one of my favourite stories (there was one or two that left me a little nonchalant, but only one or two) has me laughing out loud. Lilith doesn’t really like sex and so her husband swaps her sweetener for the almost Viagra like Spanish Fly drug and tells her after. Her response being “what a trick to play on me. And I promised Mabel that we’d go to the movies together. I can’t disappoint her. She’s been shut in at home for a week. Suppose it begins to affect me at the movies.” Imagining that conversation over tea in the 1940’s really tickled me. This is a beautifully written collection of eye opening tales which if you look past the sex have so much more to say, if only ‘The Collector’ had known! 9/10
Do you think erotica can ever pass for literature or do you think those who suggest such a thing, like me, need a good talking to? Have you read any Anaïs Nin?