Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Art & Culture: The Collected Erotica edited by Charlotte Hill and William Wallace

The Collected Erotica (Connections) attempts to bring together the “very best examples of sexual art and literature, spanning 2,000 years and sourced from both the east and the West.” It’s a tall order, especially considering the near-pocket size of this fat little paperback. On the other hand, this is an illustrated anthology of erotica and for many readers, with a mix like this, it’s tough to go wrong.

The whole 2,000 year thing forces an uneven anthology. It is, after all, a huge bite they’ve taken here and the canvas? It’s quite small. All of the heavy erotica hitters are here: Anais Nin, Oscar Wilde, Erica Jong, Casanova, D.H. Lawrence and even Edith Wharton, who writes:
Then suddenly he drew back her wrapper entirely, whispered: “I want you all, so that my eyes can see all that my lips can’t cover,” and in a moment she was free, lying before him in her fresh young nakedness, and feeling that indeed his eyes were covering it with fiery kisses.
In most cases, the writing collected represents passages from various longer works, often selected to illustrate a point in one of the sections of the book. Chapters with titles like “Forbidden Fruit,” “Dreams of Empire,” and “Fantasy or Reality,” include snippets of writing and reproductions of art and photos that make the intended points. The resulting book, then, is representational, at best. You don’t, for instance, really experience Lady Chatterley’s Lover in the few paragraphs reproduced here, but then there are those who would argue that a taste of D.H. Lawrence is enough.

As far as tastes go, The Collected Erotica is a good one. If you have a passion for this sort of work, there will be little new here. On the other hand, if this is an early foray, the taste may be all that you need. In the end, though, this bad little book is quite good. ◊

Aaron Blanton is a contributing editor to January Magazine. He’s currently working on a book based on his experiences as an American living abroad.

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Anonymous Kenneth Mark Hoover said...

This sounds pretty fascinating. I may have to pick this one up. :)

Friday, September 23, 2011 at 6:36:00 PM PDT  

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