Sixty years on, Story of O remains a powerful book, no longer as shocking as it once was, and no longer causing incredulity that it was written by a woman, Histoire d’O still occupies its unique position high in the pantheon of erotic literature.
“Published simultaneously in French and English, Story of O portrayed explicit scenes of bondage and violent penetration in spare, elegant prose, the purity of the writing making the novel seem reticent even as it dealt with demonic desire, with whips, masks and chains.”
Peter Fryer, who wrote a book on the British Museum’s collection of erotica, described it as a ‘daydream transfigured by literary skill, notably by obsessive detail, Henry James’s “solidity of specification”‘.
“But beyond its merits as a literary work, its merits or limits as pornography, there lies the paradox that this incendiary book was written by a woman who wore little make-up and no jewellery, who dressed with quiet elegance, who lived out a polite, bluestocking existence in a small flat with her parents and son. Beneath this unlikely exterior raged terrible passions. In the end, the most instructive aspect of the book is that it demonstrates the demoniac nature of sexuality in any or all of us. This quiet, learned woman understood the power of sex. She knew that desire can ignite compulsions to commit sudden, arbitrary violence and induce a yearning for voluptuous, annihilating death.”
(Geraldine Bedell, The Observer)
In memorium :
Dominique Aury ( born Anne Desclos, Rochefort-sur-Mer,
France, 1907, – died 30 April 1998 )