Excerpts from famous and lesser-known ""dirty"" literature since Song of Solomon--with running commentary from antiquarian...

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THE BROWSER'S GUIDE TO EROTICA

Excerpts from famous and lesser-known ""dirty"" literature since Song of Solomon--with running commentary from antiquarian bookman Lewis, who offers cheerful, un-pompous, rather bland and obvious appreciations of his favorite erotica (""there is no such thing as pornography. . . only good writing and bad. . .""). First there's a discussion of prudery and censorship, with generous samples from four banned-in-Britain novels: The Well of Loneliness, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Tropic of Capricorn, and. . . Stanley Kauffmann's The Philanderer, which had no such problems in the US. Then: a historical rundown--from Ovid and Lucius Apuleius to 11th-century English riddles and Chaucer (""whose middle-English language has undoubtedly protected him from the wrath of the moralists""); from The Decameron and L'Heptameron to Shakespeare and Wang Shi-cheng; from Herrick and Dryden to Fanny Hill, Casanova, Walt Whitman, Zola, and Sacher-Masoch. And then the moderns: Ulysses, of course, Candy and Frank Harris and Anais Nin--plus such idiosyncratic choices as H. L. Humes' The Underground City, Luke Rhinehart's The Dice Man, satirist Tom Sharpe, Robert Nye's Falstaff, and Someone is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe. Lewis' stabs at literary criticism are strictly undergraduate: ""What keeps The Story of 0 above the level of porn. . . is the author's exploration of the mind and motivation of his central character."" And the purely British angle may put off some American readers. But for those who share Lewis' casual, jocular affection for the classier sorts of ""hot stuff,"" there are a few rare tidbits along with the chestnuts here--plus a bibliophilic chapter (with a list of collectible items) and the occasional fetching historical footnote.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 1981

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1981

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