Tag Archives: commentary

Libertine Literature – the call of the wild to the rowdy

A 17th-Century Sex Manual That’s Legitimately Raunchy

By Rebecca Onion

Posted Wednesday, June 26, 2013, at 8:40 AM

This sex manual, translated from the original French and published in England in 1680, is racy, lewd, and hilarious. Appendix Journal’s Benjamin Breen recently posted about the document after digging it out of Google Books, which offers a fully digitized copy. (Full title: The School of Venus, or the Ladies Delight, Reduced into Rules of Practice.)

In his introduction to an anthology of 18th-century “libertine literature,” literary scholar Bradford K. Mudge points out that written pornography was not uncommon in England in the 17th and 18th centuries. Novels, travelogues, philosophy, and even botanical treatises contained extended erotic passages. In many cases, books with sexual content were published with different title pages or covers to fool authorities who might not approve.

COMMENTARY by indie publisher KATHLEEN K.

Please follow the link to see the frontispiece of this centuries-old libertine literature.  The women aren’t pretty although generally fit, there isn’t a (whole) man in the picture, but the dick-centric message is clear these hundreds of years later.

Nothing is new, folks.  Calm down.  Contemplate.  Take a moment and consider your sexual framework.

My search for the rowdier reader is going well.  I ask those who don’t think of themselves that way to pass my name on to the readingest reader they know.  Within that subset lurk my fellow verbaholics.

I am laying claim to authorship of a sexotic collection of books, I sidestep the erotic designation because I have given up on guessing what turns people on.  Of course, I use erotica as a keyword shortcut, but as you go deeper into my collection you see a world of orgasmic opportunity not often enough celebrated.  Just think about this… or those in there… or that on fire.  Think about it.  It’s pretty basic:  I set up a saucy vignette buffet and you take as little or as much as you have an appetite for, for now.

We’ve contorted our desires into bizarre socially-approved configurations; we emphasize science and law at the expense of craft and choice.  My goal is to evoke thoughts of sex, yes, but is it “sex” as defined by a weed-smoking lover man or by a dutiful housewife being mounted twice-weekly by her husband as scheduled?  Honey B. is a fictitious whore with a distinctive vocabulary and engaging style; Jamie is a spoken-porn simulator with a clear conscience.  It’s all about the permutations of a single theme in libertine literature.

Kathleen K. Books – Info/Buy Links

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Digital porn vs. Analog erotica

Info/Order LinksKathleenK.xxx provides a pipeline to sexotic collectible books tailored for the nightstand.  We asked what value should be placed on the written word when audio-visual digitization dominates online; she had this to say about that:

I’ve earned my work-a-day money manipulating technology since before Al Gore invented the Internet.  I was setting up site-to-site email over dial-up modems before most people were @ anywhere.  I’ve got no grudge against the e-reader.  That presentation-translation really doesn’t have anything to do with the “books” that I make as an indie publisher.  The book masters are keyboarded, screen-viewed, laser printed from portable document format… ever so automated.  The spirit of the book comes out in print, in composing the cover and finalizing the interior for physical reproduction.  That is the WORK that I want to present to you, one complete embodiment of a certain voice telling a particular story.  Info/Order Links

Web porn is immediate, it bombards you.  Erotica is immersive, it encompasses you.  I construct an imaginary sexual landscape then people it with a variety of characters interacting with a narrator:  a call girl, a voyeur, a pot-smoking grocer.  Stoner waxes poetic about the glory of sexuberance while the fucking pro takes on a brisk but explicit viewpoint.  In book form, you as the reader can luxuriate in the freedom to IMAGINE who is doing what.  Existing in your head, these characters are a unique concoction of my words and your ideas.  Nobody “sees” what you see; they don’t hear it like you hear it.  Books are intensely personal (still sharable), and it is my intention to evoke thoughts of desire, denial, and demand.  Savoring sensuous language is not universal so I am careful to warn of the adult content.  Rowdier readers welcome; others should pass on by.

My kind of reader has bookshelves, and books on those shelves; a book on their nightstand is not staging.  My sexotic books are free-wheeling, relying on deft word arrangement to rattle your thoughts, hinging and unhinging you.  There’s commotion in tart psycho-sexual commentary, slipping in significant phrases as you rush then linger down the channels of language.  I’m providing a narrative slipstream for you.  It’s easy-breezy, no undertow.

In answer to the related question of female writers in today’s sex literature, I’d say we are where we’ve always been – at the heart of twining the genders.  It is just as true that women are the energy-source that embodies online porn (men merely pay for it); at the most basic level females strut and spread and hump in collusion with the makers-distributors to address an overt expression of simplistic human desire.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)  It’s easy to separate bleak porn and erotic intent.  Within the writing arts is the familiar teeter-totter of power and passion we see in music and movies.  Is it really all about the badonkadonk?  Or is it the beauty of Faith Hill telling us to Breathe?  We’re all explicitly reflecting and refracting the energy of others so we see into each other.  (I support the linking power of the Internet; the shortcuts above are in honor of the artists’ work).  I spend my time making books aiming at the same sass and beauty.  KathleenKBooks.com is a gateway to writing for literate grown-folk.

There is another part of the amorous-arts spectrum which is the reading of your first banned book.  So many ways to begin: the revolutionary eroticism of Anaïs Nin, the unnerving thrill of 9½ Weeks, the good cheer of The Happy Hooker.  Most of us have stumbled across a hidden box of Aunt Betty’s bodice-rippers or Grandpa’s hysterically-serious marital sex manuals at some pubescent moment.  Somehow or another we were introduced to restricted words dancing in our hands making our eyes narrow.  Some drop it like it was hot; others took it as heartening evidence there was a secret language that existed outside their own thundering imagination.

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