Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Reads: Story of O by Pauline Réage

I know I usually feature contemporary writes in this space, but this is a read with which you should be familiar if you're at all interested in BDSM, more specificially Dominant/submissive and/or Master/slave relationships. It's not a new book by any means; written in 1954, it has piqued the interest of readers for years now. Along with the subject matter, the mystery surrounding the book has kept it in the minds of not only readers but also writers in the erotic romance and erotica genres over the decades. This week's feature is the infamous Story of O.

I'd like to be able to give you a spectacular graphic, but I can't. You can't buy this book from Amazon, Matter of fact, it's hard to get anywhere, but I do have a source. If you can't find a copy, well, I'd say let me know and I'll help you, but there are a finite number of copies still in circulation, so go on a hunt and see if you can find it.

This is a book that doesn't have spoilers because it really doesn't have a plot. Well, it kind of does, but not really. The plot is the sexual acts that take place within the book and, with that in mind, it qualifies as pure erotica. And there are lots of sexual acts, plenty. The protagonist of the book, a Parisian photographer in the fashion industry, is known only as "O" throughout the book.
She is taken into the world of willing sexual slavery by her lover, René. He takes her to Roissy to an exclusive club where her training to service all of the members at their discretion begins. Later, she is passed by René to his stepbrother, Sir Stephen. René's goal in this is to teach her to serve those with whom she's not in love. During this time period, she undergoes body modification, including branding and labial piercing.

Along the way, she's instructed to lure a beautiful model, Jacqueline, to Roissy. Jacqueline is curious and agrees to go only for that reason, to see what it's about, but later she is unwillingly enslaved there and forced to serve as O does, although this isn't detailed.

In the end, O is used in a most public fashion at a party. And this is the part that I refuse to reveal: The epilogue of the book hints at what becomes of O, and it's not pretty. Not pretty at all. I remember being more than mildly shocked but, given the slave mentality, it's not at all surprising, since O had fallen in love with Sir Stephen, although he didn't return her feelings.

Story of O is a classic in the genre. The author was actually Anne Desclos, but no one knew that for forty years after the book was published. She had a lover who was enamoured with the work of the Marquis de Sade, and she wrote this novel for him.

I liked Story of O because it took me into a world where few novels dare to tread. If you want to understand the dynamic between a Master and a sexual slave, this book is the ultimate resource. Being written in the 50s, the language is a bit stiff compared to what we now see, and yet the meanings come through loud and clear. It's almost lyrical. I'm not sure if anyone would find it titillating as much as horrifying, but I found it to be both. And if you're an erotic romance or erotica writer and you have not read this book, I feel as though it should be made mandatory reading for the genre. Within its pages you will find the basis for Dominant/submissive relationships, and then discover what happens when they're taken much, much farther and into a completely different realm. It's truly frightening, until you realize that through this particular lifestyle, O gained true freedom and, in the end, the ultimate freedom.

I would note that there is a particular Master/Dominant whose writings I follow, and while he is the consummate Master with a more-than-willing slave, this book goes much farther than the relationship he has or that others I've known have. It's a tale of true obsession with submission to the point of utter destruction. Read it at your own risk, but don't be surprised if you see something of yourself, even a little hint, within its lines.

And good luck finding a copy. If you find a source, please share in the comments below so others who might be interested can look for themselves. And thanks for that in advance.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting my blog! Please come back to see what's new. I love hearing from you!