Erotica is any artistic work that deals substantively with erotically stimulating or sexually arousing subject matter. All forms of art may depict erotic content, including painting, sculpture, photography, drama, film, music or literature. Erotica has high-art aspirations, differentiating it from commercial pornography. (Wikipedia Entry for Erotica)The first time I came across erotica (or at least something that wasn't badly written fanfiction smut) I think I must have been about 15. I'd been looking up book lists of 'books you should read before you die' and came across Anaïs Nin's name. The experience was all a little bemusing - I found myself intrigued by the situations laid bare, but was never really prompted to go in for what is so often referred to as 'one-handed reading'.
These days, when people mention that they saw someone reading Fifty Shades on the train, there's always that slight undertone of scandal, as if the person in question were about to openly pleasure themselves on the 08:12 from Clapham Junction.
|They hardly look as if they're about to explode...|
Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to make out that erotica is something other than what it is - I've had my fair share of more intense reading sessions - but really good erotica grabs us because of the writing. It appeals to our basest fantasies, whilst utilising all the different aspects of literary realism and there is no other type of writing that encourages us to empathise with its characters quite as strongly.
I have no qualms about what I read, and nor am I ashamed of it. Perhaps try some for yourself first... ;)