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Porn season

17 July 2012

10:30 AM

17 July 2012

10:30 AM

EL James has a lot to answer for. Yesterday brought news that a British publishing house, Total-E-Bound Publishing, will sex-up some of the classics in the hope of cashing in on the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon. In the forthcoming editions: Cathy and Heathcliffe will do a little bondage. Sherlock Holmes will bed down with Dr. Watson (you’ll have to read the books to find out what Mrs Watson makes of that). And Jane Eyre, of course, will get rogered by Mr Rochester, presumably while St. John Rivers plays with himself in his cottage, or perhaps even the schoolroom — the perverse possibilities are almost endless where poor, conflicted St. John is concerned.

Claire Siemaszkiewicz, the founder of Total-E-Bound Publishing, does at least have the good grace (and sense) to admit that readers will either love or hate her venture. She says that she is not changing the authors’ original voices, just adding the ‘missing scenes’. She often ‘thinks about the “uncensored versions” the authors were unable — or unwilling — to include.’

This supposes that these conventional Victorian novelists were privately fascinated by the crude sight of sex (spanking and wanking) rather than the more subtle thought of sex. Charlotte Bronte’s novels The Professor and Villette suggest that the reverse is perhaps more accurate. Much scholarship has been devoted to examining gender roles in Villette, as the protagonist, Lucy Snowe, is torn between the ‘bland’ Englishman Dr John Bretton and her volcanic French colleague, M. Paul Emanuel. You don’t need a description of Lucy luxuriating in a hot bath to suspect the substance of her imagination, or indeed to quicken one’s own breath. The reader is an actor in the melodrama of Villette, not a mere voyeur. Eroticism doesn’t require a money shot.


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