While it seems as though Fifty Shades of Grey is at the summit of smut, classic authors have been up to no good for centuries before Anastasia Steele met Christian Grey. Here are some choice quotes from the most salacious pages of some favorite lascivious classics (plus some suggestions of other places to look…).

The Decameron by Boccaccio:

“She had no conception of the kind of horn that men do their butting with, and when she felt what was happening, it was almost as though she regretted having turned a deaf ear to Perricone’s flattery, and could not see why she had waited for an invitation before spending her nights so agreeably.”

(130 – much more in tales I.4, II.7, and III.10) 

 (even the very beginning of) Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence:

“She was perfectly dim and dazed, looking down in a sort of amazement at the rather tender nape of his neck, feeling his face pressing her thighs. In all her burning dismay, she could not help putting her hand with tenderness and compassion on the defenseless nape of his neck, and he trembled in a sudden shudder.”

(25-26 – more on pages 116, 125, 221-22, 246)

Fanny Hill  by John Cleland:

“Oh then! the fiery touch of his fingers determines me, and my fears melting away before the growing intolerable heat, my thighs disclose of themselves and yield all liberty to his hand; and now, a favourable moment giving my petticoats a toss, the avenue lay too fair, too open to be missed; he is now upon me.”

(110 – more on pages 62-3, 66-71, 76-8, 108-13, 118-20, 151-61… and pretty much every other page in the book)

Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch:

“Wanda smiled and sat down in the armchair. ‘Kneel here – here next to my chair.’

I obeyed.

‘Kiss my hand.’

I took hold of her small, cold hand and kissed it.

‘And my lips –’

In a surge of passion I flung my arms around the cruel, beautiful woman and covered her face, her lips, her bust with hot kisses, and, shutting her eyes as if in a dream, she responded with the same fire – until past midnight.”

(61 – more on pages 37, 41-5, 51, 61, and 114-15)

Madame Bovary by Flaubert (also available as an eBook):

“Any minute now she would appear…–in her flounced dress, her gold lorgnette, her thin little boors, all kinds of elegant refinements he had never had a taste of before, and with all the ineffable seductiveness of virtue yielding. The church, like a gigantic boudoir, was arranging itself around her…”

(213 – more on page 164)

Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos:

“It is not enough for me to possess her, I want her to surrender.”

(270 – more on pages 272, 312, 322, and 332)

Stung with Love, a collection of Sappho’s poetry:

“That impossible predator,

Eros the Limb-Loosener,

Bitter-sweetly and afresh

Savages my flesh.”

(21 – more on pages 35, 39, and 75)

Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana:

“Just as a galloping horse,

blind to all else by its pace,

is heedless of a ditch, post or trench

which may be there within its path,

so two lovers blind with passion

in the fray of intercourse

let loose their most intense impulses

and pay no heed to any danger.”

(58-9 – more on most pages, because it’s the Kama Sutra)

And, finally, Philosophy in the Boudoir by Marquis de Sade:

“Fuck – in a word – fuck! … continence is an impossible virtue, which nature, violated in its rights, instantly punishes with a thousand miseries.”

(33-4 – and more on pretty much every page)

Classic Fridays | The world is full of classics. Every Friday, we close the week with one of our favorites.


I have a nameless wish to go
To some far silent midnight noon
Where lonely streams whisper and flow
And sigh on sands blanched by the moon

William Faulkner’s first published work, from the 1919 New Republic.

My blog’s title obliges me to autoreblog pretty much everything re: Faulkner.

And, every time I see a picture of the man, I think “of course he looked like that.” It’s fascinating to contrast the ubiquity of Hemingway’s image to Faulkner and Fitzgerald; it must tell us something about the reception of their work, though what that “must” is remains pretty ambiguous. 

I’m sure it has to do with the imago Hemingway presented as a model to a whole generation of young men, the form of life which they internalized and took as their model.  Stranger still, the life’s end of the model. Vonnegut once wrote about his suicide as a confusing of life with fiction, as a failure (from a talk, in this book). That conclusion always seemed wrong to me, and I come back to it every now and again. Ultimately, I just think it’s too easy, and that suicide, ‘this strange determination to die’ (#), is more complex and tortuous than such a judgment warrants.

I suppose it’s only appropriate that on the occasion of posting about Faulkner, I actually ended up talking about Hemingway. But, in any case, the blog is named for Faulkner’s novel, and that is no accident.  

Letter from the Pulitzer Fiction Jury: What Really Happened This Year


On April 16, 2012, the Pulitzer Prize Board announced that it would award no Pulitzer for fiction in 2012. This was, to say the least, surprising and upsetting to any number of people, prominent among them the three fiction jurors, who’d read over three hundred novels and short-story collections, and finally submitted three finalists, each remarkable (or so we believed) in its own way.

And yet, no prize at all in 2012.

How did that happen?

The delightful dishing of literary dirt, with a cliffhanger to boot. And, a great mini-review of the finalists, the perfect kind, which makes you want to read them immediately …

Letter from the Pulitzer Fiction Jury: What Really Happened This Year