Thursday, June 18, 2015

High Porn : An Unbuttoned Canon

The passing reference to "canonical High Porn" in my last post might have raised a Nimoyesque eyebrow or two, so perhaps I should expand upon it (dilate upon it, tumesce upon it...always bearing in mind the lovely impossibility of writing about sex without unintended double entendres). Here's an informal, top-of-my-head, roughly chronological list of some works I would include in an informal canon of High Pornography. The list is by no means encyclopedic (it's too Eurocentric for that; except for only a few books, it's an entirely 'western' canon) and does not imply that I like all of these works (although I recommend most of them).
  • Aristophanes, Plays
  • Plato, The Symposium
  • Ovid, Love Poems, The Metamorphoses
  • Martial, The Epigrams
  • Petronius, The Satyricon
  • The Arabian Nights
  • The Fabliaux
  • Boccaccio, The Decameron
  • Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
  • Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel
  • Pietro Aretino, Dialogues
  • William Shakespeare, Sonnets, Pericles, Troilus and Cressida
  • Lord Rochester, Complete Poems
  • Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders
  • John Cleland, Fanny Hill
  • Choderlos de Laclos, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
  • Sade, Philosophy in the Bedroom, Justine, Juliette, 120 Days of Sodom
  • Goethe, Roman Elegies, Venetian Epigrams
  • William Blake, Poetry and Prose
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Christabel"
  • Byron, Don Juan
  • Honore de Balzac, "Sarrasine," The Girl with the Golden Eyes
  • Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
  • Anonymous, My Secret Life
  • Emile Zola, Nana
  • C. P. Cavafy, Complete Poems
  • James Joyce, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake
  • Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time
  • D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover
  • Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, Tropic of Capricorn, Sexus, Nexus, Plexus
  • Djuna Barnes, Nightwood
  • Anais Nin, Delta of Venus, Little Birds
  • Georges Bataille, Story of the Eye
  • Jean Genet, Our Lady of the Flowers, Funeral Rites, Miracle of the Rose, Querelle
  • Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
  • Pauline Reage, The Story of O
  • William Burroughs, Naked Lunch
  • Allen Ginsberg, Collected Poems
  • Stephen Vizinczey, In Praise of Older Women
  • Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
  • Philip Roth, Portnoy's Complaint, Sabbath's Theater, The Dying Animal
  • Erica Jong, Fear of Flying, How To Save Your Own Life, Parachutes and Kisses, Fanny
  • Gore Vidal, The City and the Pillar, Myra Breckenridge
  • Norman Mailer, An American Dream, Ancient Evenings
  • W. H. Auden, "The Platonic Blow"
  • Yukio Mishima, Confessions of a Mask, Forbidden Colors
  • Junichiro Tanizaki, The Key
  • Yasunari Kawabata, House of the Sleeping Beauties
  • William H. Gass, Willie Masters' Lonesome Wife
  • J. G. Ballard, Crash
  • Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
  • Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
  • John Updike, Rabbit is Rich, The Witches of Eastwick, Roger's Version
  • Edmund White, A Boy's Own Story, The Beautiful Room is Empty
  • Robert Coover, Spanking the Maid
  • Harold Brodkey, "Experience," in Stories in an Almost Classical Mode
  • Renaud Camus, Tricks
  • Mutsuo Takahashi, A Bunch of Keys: Selected Poems
  • Dennis Cooper, Closer
  • Mary Gaitskill, Bad Behavior
  • Alasdair Gray, 1982 Janine
  • Elfriede Jelinek, The Piano Teacher
  • Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Immortality
  • Mario Vargas Llosa, In Praise of the Stepmother
  • Norman Rush, Mating
  • Alan Hollinghurst, The Swimming Pool Library, The Line of Beauty
  • Pat Califia, Macho Sluts
  • Samuel Delany, The Mad Man
  • Robert Olen Butler, They Whisper
  • David Lehman, ed. The Best American Erotic Poems: From 1800 to the Present
  • Annie Proulx, "Brokeback Mountain," in Close Range
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Memories of My Melancholy Whores
  • Sarah Waters, Tipping the Velvet
  • Catherine Millet, The Sexual Life of Catherine M
  • Mark Doty, School of the Arts

2 comments:

Corey said...

Interesting. Why no Finnegans Wake? My understanding is Joyce wrote the Wake the way he did in part to cover the sexual material that's in almost (every?) page..

I love Rabelais' work.

BRIAN OARD said...

@Corey:

Yeah, the Wake should be up there. Since posting the list, I've thought of several more books that could be added: William Gass's Willie Masters' Lonesome Wife, Tanizaki's The Key, Mishima's Forbidden Colors and Confessions of a Mask, Jong's Fanny (to say nothing of her fanny), Alasdair Gray's 1982 Janine, and David Lehman's eye-opening anthology, The Best American Erotic Poems