French culture has long been perceived by the English-speaking reader as somehow more ‘erotic’ than its Anglo-Saxon equivalent. Forbidden Fictions is the first English-language study devoted exclusively to the wide spectrum of French literary pornography in the twentieth century. John Phillips provides a broad history of the genre and the associated moral and political issues. Among the texts examined in detail – all selected for their literary or sociopolitical importance – are landmark works by Apollinaire, Louÿs, Bataille, Réage, Robbe-Grillet, Arsan, and Duvert. Phillips challenges current politically correct trends in literary criticism and stereotyped censoring discourses about pornography to provide a new reading of each text and to illustrate the genre’s potential for social subversion. Forbidden Fictions addresses the most controversial issues of contemporary sexual politics, such as objectification, sadomasochism, homoeroticism and paedophilia, with particular emphasis on the feminist debate on pornography. In the light of current controversy over the control of pornography, this is a timely and scholarly review of the ethical, moral and social arguments surrounding the censorship of sexually explicit material.
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