If we have learned anything from the popular 50 Shades series, its that we love to read about sex. Whether were at home, on a train, or sitting on a park bench, we cant help but enjoy the occasional paragraph of steamy, full-frontal intercourse. However, as readers, we like to be picky. Were not satisfied by dull, garden-variety sex. Its the freaky, funky, nasty stuff that keeps us turning the pages for more. Like Rihanna, we are partial to the odd chain and whip. But this demand for less-than-typical sex in literature is not exclusive to the present day. Throughout history, readers have been intrigued, shocked, and often disturbed by lewd tales.
10 Talking Vaginas And Deadly Sex
Back in the day, during medieval times, French writers were known to publish comical tales known as fabliaux. Many of these stories were extraordinarily crude, full of sex and poop. With such ridiculously titled tales as The Mourner Who Got Fed At The Grave Site and The Knight Who Made Cts and Aholes Speak, its easy to see how the fabliaux stand apart in history.
In The Mourner Who Got Fed At The Grave Site, a woman is crying by the headstone of her recently deceased husband. While she is crying, a knight and his squire spot her. The knight, in all his chivalry, bets his squire that he will be able to get the crying woman to have sex with him. The squire is, of course, disgusted by the knights claim and agrees to the bet. The knight then approaches the grieving woman, who admits to the knight that she would rather die than live without her husband. Spotting his opportunity, the knight tells the woman that he too is in grief, as he has just killed the woman he loves by having sex with her. Upon hearing this, the mourning widow begs the knight to have sex with her and end her suffering. The two then engage instantly in intercourse, with the woman criticizing his performance: You think you can kill me by tickling?
The Knight Who Made Cts and Aholes speak is equally self-explanatory. A group of nymphs give a knight the gift of being able to make vaginas and anuses speak on request. During the climax (sorry) of the tale, a woman makes a bet with the knight that he will be unable to make her vagina say a word. The woman stuffs her vagina with cotton, and when the knight asks her genitals to speak, the ladys secret parts are muted. However, the knight then asks the womans anus to explain why her vagina is silent, and it reveals that the lady stuffed her genitals with cotton. The woman is publicly humiliated, and the knight wins his bet.
Oddly, the fabliaux were hugely influential on English literature, as they were the basis of Boccaccios The Decameron, a collection of 100 similarly crude stories that inspired Chaucers The Canterbury Tales. Literature has such a sophisticated heritage.
9 The Worlds Sexiest Shoes
Sticking with the theme of sensual clothing, the idea of shoe fetishism has, by now, become common knowledge. Less known is the fact that shoe fetishism is also referred to as retifism, a term that refers to the French novelist Nicolas-Edme Retif. The subject of attractive shoes appears many times in Retifs novels, particularly in Le Pied de Fanchette (roughly translated as The Foot of Fanchette) and LAnti Justine (or Anti-Justine). As the title suggests, LAnti Justine is a reaction against the Marquis de Sades infamous Justine, a novel remembered for its obscene depictions of sexual violence or sadism. Interestingly, despite their similar legacies as fetish forefathers, the two Frenchmen were known to have a shared hatred of each other.
In LAnti Justine, the main character Saintepallaire has such a strong attraction toward shoes that he spends over 10,000 crowns on buying his fiance a pair of specially made shoes for their wedding day. During their honeymoon, Saintepallaire carefully removes his new wifes shoes and expresses a desire to be trampled by her feet. He then places her shoes in a glass box, kept as a reminder of their love. His wife makes sure to wear the shoes on every anniversary. Saintepallaire also buys his wife a new pair of shoes for each day of the first year of their marriage.
8 The Penis Enhanced By Dog Meat
Chinese culture isnt exactly famous for its erotic literature, but thats because most people havent read The Carnal Prayer Mat, a story so sexually explicit that it has often been banned and heavily censored throughout Chinas history. The author responsible for writing The Carnal Prayer Mat remains unknown, but most scholars tend to agree that it was 17th-century Chinese writer Li Yu.
The premise of The Carnal Prayer Mat revolves around a young, horny scholar who waltzes around China indulging in women and sex, in spite of the protests of a Buddhist monk who advises him to shun his promiscuity. Ignoring this advice, the young scholar organizes for a Taoist magician to weave strands of dog penis into his own in order to make it larger and stronger. With his newly enhanced genitalia, the scholar engages in even more sex with numerous married women. After upsetting a few husbands, the scholar is inevitably punished for his infidelity. He learns the error of his ways and dedicates his life to Buddhism. However, fearing that his dog-enhanced penis may lead him astray, the scholar opts to chop it off completely. Better safe than sorry.
7 Consensual Rape
For many people, the notion of consensual rape might seem impossible and nonsensical. Those people havent read The Dice Man. In this disturbing novel, a deranged psychiatrist by the name of Luke Rhinehart confronts his boredom by leaving all of his decisions to the rolling of dice. Whenever Rhinehart has to make a life choice, he writes a list of numbered options, rolls a pair of dice, and performs whatever action the dice dictate.
The first time he tries this, the dice decide that he must rape the wife of his colleague and neighbor. Fortunately for Luke, his neighbors wife consents happily to the rape, and the rape was consummated with a minimum of violence and no great imagination, passion or pleasure. Yikes.
In a novel full of bizarre and twisted encounters, this moment of consensual rape is comparatively tame. Other unusual bedroom activities include Rhinehart pretending to be a priest so he can lure a young Catholic virgin into an orgy and his sadistic patient Osterflood, whose dissatisfaction with humiliating prostitutes leads him to rape and kill little girls and boys.
You might think the author of such a book to be mad, and you might be right. The author of The Dice Man writes under the pseudonym of Luke Rhinehart, sharing a name with the novels main character. His real name is George Cockroft, and when Mr. Cockroft isnt writing disturbing sex scenes, hes either living by the dice life himself or faking his own death, among other insane exploits.
6 Incest And Broken Hearts
In England, during the Jacobean era of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, there was a large swarm of so-called revenge tragedies that achieved huge success in English theater. These plays were known for their violence and sexual obscenity. Our good old pal Shakespeare is probably the most famous writer of revenge tragedies, with Hamlet fitting in with the genre along with the less popular Titus Andronicus, a drama in which the titular character murders his own daughter after she gets raped and mutilated by two young men.
One of the more controversial revenge tragedies was John Fords Tis Pity Shes A Whore. Fords play focuses on two siblings, Giovanni and Annabella, who fall in love and have sinful incestuous relations with one another. Of course, the world does not accept their love, and Annabella resigns herself to marrying another man. However, she becomes pregnant with her brothers child. When Annabellas new husband learns of her pregnancy, he swears vengeance on the father. Eventually, he realizes that the father is Giovanni, so he traps him by inviting him to a feast. At the feast, Giovanni meets with Annabella one last time, where he kisses her and decides that nobody else should be able to have her love. Naturally, he cuts out her heart with his dagger, waves the heart in other peoples faces, reveals his incestuous love to the world, and kills a couple of elderly people before getting murdered.
5 Alien Sex Zoo
In the satirical anti-war novel Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut introduces us to the distant planet of Tralfamadore. Inspired by his own experiences during the bombing of Dresden in World War II, Vonnegut writes about Billy Pilgrim, a Dresden survivor and PSTD sufferer who believes that he has been abducted by fourth-dimensional aliens known as Tralfamadorians. These aliens place Billy in a dome-shaped zoo, where the Tralfamadorians marvel at Billys unusual human appearance and behavior. Billy is captured naked, of course.
As is common procedure at a zoo, the aliens decide that Billy requires a mating partner to share his dome with. The Tralfamadorians decide to sedate and abduct a 20-year-old human porn star named Montana Wildhack. Attendance records are broken by Montanas inclusion in the zoo. The Tralfamadorians all watch eagerly as the two humanoids passionately breed. Who said romance was dead?
The Tralfamadorians also have very interesting outlooks on sexual behavior. On Tralfamadore, for example, there are supposed to be five sexes necessary for reproduction. To humans, however, all of these five sexes look the same, because the sex differences are purely fourth-dimensional. Similarly, Tralfamadorians believe that there are seven different human sexes necessary for reproduction, but again, five of these differences are fourth-dimensional. According to the Tralfamadorians, male homosexuals, women over 65 years of age, and human babies who lived for only an hour or less after birth are all necessary for human reproduction.
4 Getting Freaky At The Circus
There are a lot of bizarre and freaky things about Angela Carters Nights At The Circus, as is to be expected from any postmodern magical realist novel. The quality of its bizarre magical content helped the novel to win the prestigious James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction in 1984, and it was even chosen as the best winner of the James Tait Black award in 2012, defeating The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Of course, it was likely the novels freaky, sexual moments that really brought it such acclaim.
The main character of Nights At The Circus is Fevvers, a large woman born with wings and the gift of flight who works as a circus trapeze artist. Fevvers encounters various unusual characters who practice freaky sexual behaviors. This is not surprising, since she was born in a brothel and then sold to a Museum of Women Monsters before joining the circus.
Fevvers has one of these unusual bedroom encounters with a character known as The Grand Duke. This mysterious Duke invites Fevvers to his house after being impressed with her circus performance. Fevvers accepts, hoping to receive gifts and riches. Instead, the Duke attempts to turn Fevvers into a literal toy that he might possess and treasure. Realizing that this is the Dukes plan, Fevvers distracts him by pleasuring him before magically boarding a tiny toy train to Siberia.
Another atypical sex scene occurs within the circus itself. A group of educated monkeys is rehearsing its performance while the circus strongman and the wife of an ape-man are having extramarital sex on the side. During the rehearsal, the ringmasters pig starts darting and shrieking across the arena. As it turns out, the circus tiger has escaped and is running amok. Amid this carnage, the strongman quickly finishes with his business and runs away scared, leaving his lover stranded. His lover is then forced to try and escape the tiger completely naked. Dont worry though, she makes it out in the end.
3 Loki Has Sex With A Horse
Tom Hiddlestons good looks and devilish charm might make people swoon when they think of Loki, but thats because they dont know where the god has been. The Norse god of mischief is already the father of two wolves and a serpent, and his daughter is also the ruler of Hell. Hes also the mother (yes, the mother) of an eight-legged horse. There must be some funky sex stories behind this gang of kids.
In the Prose Edda, one of the major sources of Old Norse mythology, it is explained that Loki had the groovy fun times with a giantess called Angrboda, who then gave birth to three of Lokis children. These children are Fenrir the wolf, Jormungandr the serpent, and Hel. The sex that Loki had with the giantess must have been really nasty, because Fenrir is prophesied to kill Odin during Ragnarok, while Jormungandrs venom is supposedly responsible for the death of Thor. Chris Hemsworth had better watch out for giant snakes.
More bizarre than Lokis relations with the giantess are his relations with a horse. According to the Prose Edda, after a deal involving a builder and his horse went wrong, Loki took the form of a female horse and used his feminine beauty to lure the builders horse away. The two of them then had dealings, also known as kinky horse sex. As a result, Loki ended up giving birth to Sleipnir, an eight-legged horse that later became Odins trusty steed.
2 The Bowler Hat Fetish
In Milan Kunderas The Unbearable Lightness of Being, there are various moments of sexual promiscuity, but the most remarkable of these moments involves a bowler hat. The scene describes the womanizer Tomas trying on a bowler hat that belonged to the father of his mistress, Sabina. As Sabina undresses, preparing for a bit of you-know-what, Tomas places the hat on Sabinas head, leaving Sabina in nothing but her underwear and the snazzy headgear. Both Tomas and Sabina get excited by this use of the bowler hat, resulting in racy intercourse. The song You Can Leave Your Hat On comes to mind.
To frame this scene as depicting some kind of headwear fetish would be an oversimplification; the allure of the hat comes from a far more complex place. Sabina likes to feel humiliated and violated. But rather than satisfying her fetish through latex or kinky toys, Sabina prefers the more sophisticated symbol of the bowler hat. Kundera describes the hard masculine hat as denying, ridiculing, and violating the femininity of the half-naked Sabina, while her enjoyment of this humiliation is compared with consenting to public rape. Nonetheless, the bowler hat clearly had an effect on readers as well as Sabina, since the scene was included in an Oscar-nominated movie adaptation in 1988.
1 Heavenly Relations
The book with probably the most accounts of freaky sex is the bestselling book of all timethe Bible. Weve been previously shocked by tales of incest, the brutal rape of a concubine, and sex between human beings and Sons of God. However, what many readers havent considered is the large amount of freaky old-people sex found in the Bible, most notably in the story of Abraham.
The story of Abraham and how God made it possible for his barren wife, Sarah, to have a child is well known. But behind this uplifting and heartwarming story, there are some sexual moments that we would rather not picture. The child, Isaac, was born when Abraham was 100 years old. That means that Abraham was at least 99 years old when Isaac was conceived. Yes, behind many of the Bibles most famous stories and figures, there are some century-old couples thrashing it out in a tent somewhere.
Amid all of the old-people sex between Abraham and Sarah, its important to remember that Abraham was also fooling around with Sarahs handmaiden, Hagar (with Sarahs permission, of course). In fact, after Sarah died at the age of 127, Abraham went on to marry Cetura and have six more children. The man just couldnt stop. No Viagra was necessary for old Abe.
Nathaniel Woo is an English writer and student at the University of East Anglia. When he is not blogging or tweeting about tennis, Nathaniel is either reading or writing short stories.