I've been enjoying two lovely erotic novels recently, books thoughtful enough to be engaging as well as prurient. This blog post is safe for work but the links are generally not.
My Secret Life is a autobiographical novel of a gentleman's vigorous sexual life in Victorian London. The book is mostly an encyclopedic account of various encounters, growing increasingly byzantine as the book progresses. But between all the debauchery is a remarkably honest and sympathetic protagonist.
Then came reflection. Had I really frigged a man ... An act I had certainly heard of being done by men to each other, yet all but disbelieved, and looked on as a very foul action yet I had done it, had enjoyed it all. ... It ended in reflecting that I never had intended to do those things, that opportunity had let me unwittingly to do them, and resolving that I would never do it again, I fell asleep.Sometimes he's very libertine, sometimes quite conflicted. There's a lot of interesting class-related observations. The relentless sexual combinations with only slight variation sometimes read like Penthouse Forum letters, but there's enough thought behind it to keep my interest. The book is available free online, I'm reading an abridged edition. Lost Girls, Alan Moore's porno graphic novel. Obviously not a Victorian book itself, but set in Victorian Austria. Nominally the story is about the erotic hijinks of Alice (of Wonderland), Dorothy (of Oz), and Wendy (of Nevernever Land). The writing doesn't always work, but some of the reimagining of classic childrens' stories are quite good.
But as a graphic novel it's not really about the text, it's the art. And the art is a lovely diaphonous dreamworld, mixing eroticism and innocence and vibrancy in a very powerful way. Some good page samples: 1, 2, 3. At $60 it's not cheap but the print quality is beautiful.