Printed Page Bookshop
July 2022

The black sheep of the book world

Although erotic literature has existed for much longer than 2,000 years and in many instances has been accepted as deserving the description of a classic work, it's never been easy to define, and it remains that way to this day as indicated by people continuing to object to this book or that in the school or public library.
The commerce in erotica -- and the fear that buyers and sellers had of being accused of propagating pornography -- led yesterday's booksellers and auction houses to refer to such material as "amatory," "curiosa," "deliciae," "facetiae," and "varia."  Law enforcement had its own definitions.  A British attorney general in the 1930s stated flatly that "the gratification of sexual appetite is an unsavory subject," ignoring the obvious fact that his parents must have had some kind of appetite or he wouldn't be around to pontificate about it.
Books judged erotic were banned and included such classics as "The Well of Lonliness," "Ulysses," "Pepys's Diary," "The Thousand and One Arabian Nights" and Candide's "Voltaire."
In the U.S., perhaps the most remarkable and drastic action taken against a book considered erotic was in 1907, when Dr. C. W. Malchow, president of the Physicians and Surgeons Club of Minneapolis, was sentenced to prison for selling through the mail his work,"The Sexual Life."  Perhaps no other kind of books posed such risks to their authors, with the possible exception of scientific books that contradicted church dogma.
But it is perhaps the forbidden nature of erotica that has nurtured its appeal.  The centers of erotica are in Europe and especially in Paris, where more erotica in the English language is published than almost anywhere else in the world.  The Obelisk, Olympia, and Vendome presses have produced some 200,000 volumes of erotica a year, half of which finds its way to the U.S.  
And perhaps surprisingly, libraries in varioius parts of the world, some private, some public, have managed to preserve many of the best examples of erotica, especially the unpublished material, of which there is a very great deal.  The Library of Congress has some 5,000 erotic works, including many taken by various past customs seizures.  The British Museum has about 20,000 volumes, and the University of Indiana (home of the Institute for Sex Research) has about 15,000.  The largest collection?  That would be 25,000 volumes.  You'd have to go to Italy to see those.  They're in the Vatican.
Source:  Erotic Literature by Donald McCormick


This Month's Puzzler

On August 2, 1942, this woman was born in Lima, Peru (her father was a
Chilean diplomat stationed in Peru). Raised in one of Chile's most
prominent political families (her uncle was president from 1970-73), she
began her professional career as a journalist before becoming a popular
television personality. In 1973, after a military coup overthrew the
Chilean government, she fled to Venezuela, where she lived for the next 13
years. In 1982, she wrote a "spiritual letter" to her dying grandfather.
When the book was published in English in 1985 as "The House of the
Spirits," it became an international bestseller. She has written sixteen
more books that have sold 30 million copies. She has lived in California
since 1987, working full-time as a writer. In her book "The Infinite
Plan" (1993), she wrote

"Be careful what you ask of Heaven; it might be granted."

Who is this woman?                (Answer below)

There's a book fair coming in September --
Printed Page will be there (and we have free passes!)

For the first time in three years, a book fair will occur in the Denver area.  The Rocky Mountain Book and Paper Fair -- in its 38th edition -- will have a new location this year:  the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 500 Fairgrounds Rd., Castle Rock.
The fair will be held Friday, September 9, from 2pm to 7pm and Saturday, September 10, from 10am  to 5pm.
About 80 booksellers from around the country are expected to exhibit.  There will also be two programs:  Karen Jones will present information about protection, conservation and restoration of books and manuscripts, and Taylor Kirkpatrick will lead a panel discussion with some young book collectors.  
We have some free passes, so either drop by the store and ask for one, or let us know where we can mail one.  Each pass is good for two days.

Puzzler answer

Isabell Allende.  If you like our Puzzler, find more on our Facebook page.  
Thanks to Dr. Mardy Grothe for the use of his puzzler.  Visit him at

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