Christian Grey, billionaire, mysterious, sexy, suffered a childhood trauma and can only get off on spanking and bondage. Anastasia Steele, virgin, falls for the billionaire, and is caught between Christian’s spanking fetish and her resistance to submission. She wants love. He ‘doesn’t do romance.’ Fifty Shades of Grey, EL James’s tale of BDSM and nouvelle erotica, has sold 100 million books, and revived the career of the Marquis de Sade.
The Marquis de Sade plucked reluctant virgins, debauched serving girls, beat his wife, seduced her sister, practised sodomy and wrote stories featuring rape, incest, necrophilia, torture and bestiality. He was also a war hero, lent his name to the word sadism and practically invented the erotic genre. Two hundred years after his death in 1814, the Marquis de Sade’s books are still in print and are being reassessed by academics
‘Eroticism, it may be said, is assenting to life up to the point of death.’ The quote is by Georges Bataille, the one man from history I would have jumped straight into bed with, if only to have learned more about eroticism. Before Bataille, I flirted with Albert Camus, Henry Miller and Martin Amis, whose novel The Rachel Papers I read with a torch after lights out. I rejected Jean-Paul
Eros had curly dark hair tumbling over green eyes and sulky full lips. We met when I was a teenager staying with his family in Paris to improve my French. His real name was Yves, but that night when he slipped down the dark corridor into my bedroom, I felt as if I were in the sculpting hands of Eros. Eros is the Greek word for love. The French in
Burning books has always been a symbol of dictatorship and the sign a society that has lost its way. The Nazis were big on burning books. Al-Qaida finds time for burning books when they’re not burning schools and blowing up Buddhist statues. The Royal Library of Alexandria was razed on several occasions: by Roman fanatics, Christian fanatics and, finally, Moslem fanatics who scattered the ash on the wind. The German poet Heinrich Heine famously said: “Where