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Before the Deluge by Cornelis van Haarlem, 1615
Before the Deluge by Cornelis van Haarlem, 1615


Fernande (1910–1917) French postcard by Jean Agélou

Pornography (colloquially known as porn or porno) has been defined as sexual subject material "such as a picture, video, or text" that is intended for sexual arousal. Intended for consumption by adults, pornography depictions have evolved from cave paintings, some forty millennia ago, to virtual reality presentations. A general distinction of adult content is made classifying it as pornography or erotica.

The oldest artifacts considered pornographic were discovered in Germany in 2008 CE and are dated to be at least 35,000 years old. Throughout the history of erotic depictions various people made attempts to suppress them under obscenity laws, censor, or make them illegal. Such grounds and even the definition of pornography have differed in various historical, cultural, and national contexts. The Indian Sanskrit text Kama Sutra (3rd century CE) contained prose, poetry, and illustrations regarding sexual behavior, and the book was celebrated; while the British English text Fanny Hill (1748), considered "the first original English prose pornography," has been one of the most prosecuted and banned books. In the late 19th century, a film by Thomas Edison that depicted a kiss was denounced as obscene in the United States, whereas Eugène Pirou's 1896 film Bedtime for the Bride was received very favorably in France. Starting from the mid-twentieth century on, societal attitudes towards sexuality became more lenient in the Western world where legal definitions of obscenity were made limited. In 1969, Blue Movie became the first film to depict unsimulated sex that received a wide theatrical release in the United States. This was followed by the "Golden Age of Porn" (1969–1984). The introduction of home video and the World Wide Web in the late 20th century led to global growth in the pornography business. Beginning in the 21st century, greater access to the Internet and affordable smartphones made pornography more mainstream. (Full article...)

Erotica is literature or art that deals substantively with subject matter that is erotic, sexually stimulating or sexually arousing. Some critics regard pornography as a type of erotica, but many consider it to be different. Erotic art may use any artistic form to depict erotic content, including painting, sculpture, drama, film or music. Erotic literature and erotic photography have become genres in their own right. Erotica also exists in a number of subgenres including gay, lesbian, women's, bondage, monster and tentacle erotica.

The term erotica is derived from the feminine form of the ancient Greek adjective: ἐρωτικός (erōtikós), from ἔρως (érōs)—words used to indicate lust, and sexual love. (Full article...)

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Selected work of erotic literature

First edition cover

Lolita is a 1955 novel written by Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov that addresses the controversial subject of hebephilia. The protagonist is a French literature professor who moves to New England and writes under the pseudonym Humbert Humbert. He describes his obsession with a 12-year-old "nymphet", Dolores Haze, whom he kidnaps and sexually abuses after becoming her stepfather. Privately, he calls her "Lolita", the Spanish nickname for Dolores. The novel was originally written in English, but fear of censorship in the U.S. (where Nabokov lived) and Britain led to it being first published in Paris, France, in 1955 by Olympia Press.

The book has received critical acclaim regardless of the controversy it caused with the public. It has been included in many lists of best books, such as Time's List of the 100 Best Novels, Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century, Bokklubben World Library, Modern Library's 100 Best Novels, and The Big Read. The novel has been twice adapted into film: first in 1962 by Stanley Kubrick, and later in 1997 by Adrian Lyne. It has also been adapted several times for the stage. (Full article...)

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Slideshow of selected historical images



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