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“Only the united beat of sex and heart together can create ecstasy.” – Anais Nin

The value of this book in the stacks of literary achievement is as important as its contribution to the erotic genre of the 20th century. Anais Nin wrote this collection of fifteen short stories in the 1940s for an erotic collector (perhaps the Jeffrey Epstein of the day?), but they were not published until 1977. They now stand as masterpieces of storytelling, a rich collection that is part of the undervalued social contribution made by erotic literature across recent history, from D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1915) to The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis (2011) [Book review coming soon].

Anais Nin, a true feminist – long before the MeToo movement – extracted from the darkness of centuries the role of women’s sexuality in the human story, of their universal desires, sexual fantasies, even depraved behavior. Here, in literary prose, without apology, without judgement, the power of the pen pierces the faux Judeo-Christian sin of human denial.

Like D.H. Lawrence, she looks behind the social facade of class, culture and gender and shares the honesty of sex, expressed in vivid reality, scene after scene, character after character. It’s a lot of sex, a lot of reality, a lot of insight. It’s carnal pleasure that isn’t necessarily for everybody but it’s certainly about everything women and men are in their erogenous reality.

“Women (and I) have never separated sex from feeling, from love of the whole man.” – Anais Nin

In the preface to Delta of Venus, Nin describes the context of erotic literature in her era by saying, “Writing became the road to sainthood rather than debauchery” as “we were haunted by the marvelous tales we could not tell … because he [the collector] would not allow us to make a fusion of sexuality and feeling, sensuality and emotion.” This fusion of literature and honest sexuality is the craft of Nin, the mistress of erotic writing.

In each of these stories, the sexual honesty manifests in the sexual abandon, in the uncensored needs of our carnal obsessions. From the first story, The Hungarian Adventurer, to the last, Nin portrays a fascinatingly real – and raw – picture of love, romance, excess, ecstasy, fellatio, even incest.

In this costume, while the rest of the show continued, she made her round of the boxes. There, on request, she knelt before a man, unbuttoned his pants, took his penis in her jeweled hands, and with a neatness of touch, an expertness, a subtlety few women had ever developed, sucked at it until he was satisfied. Her two hands were as active as her mouth.

The titillation almost deprived each man of his senses. The elasticity of her hands; the variety of rhythms; the change from a hand grip of the entire penis to the lightest touch of the tip of it, from firm kneading of all the parts to the lightest teasing of the hair around it—all this by an exceptionally beautiful and voluptuous woman while the attention of the public was turned towards the stage. Seeing the penis go into her magnificent mouth between her flashing teeth, while her breasts heaved, gave men a pleasure for which they paid generously.

This is just one of the indulgences of the Hungarian Adventurer, a Gatsby-like gadabout, nicknamed the Baron, who traveled the world and became “the center of attraction for women … He knew everyone in society. He was indispensable.” The story line might seem a little like some of today’s “Billionaire” series by Harlequin, except it is considerably shorter and considerably better written.

“The Baron’s sexual fury was increasing and had become an obsession. Being satisfied did not free him, calm him. It was like an irritant.”

This book is a true “collection,” a collector’s treasure, a page-turning adventure through a looking glass of sexual adventure and taboo relinquishment. A fictional treat immersed in reality.

For any book club, it’s a read of discovery, worthy of much discussion.

Buy the book at the Love & Sexcess Bookstore (20% off).

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