Works of the Flesh: Figures of Erotic Discourse

Essay (Québec, Presses de l’Université Laval; Paris, L'Harmattan, 1998, 522p.)

Since the origins of civilization, human beings made their sexuality a major problem that needs evaluation and reflection. This is the problem that tries to describe this essay, which is the very first of its kind on the neglected genre of erotic novels. Conventional academia was never interested in this subject, not only for moral or aesthetic reasons, but probably also because the authorship of many works is problematic. This book thrives to articulate the amazing diversity of information surrounding sexual practices that these works carry over the centuries. The reader may discover that this literature is more interesting than we thought, not only for sociological, historical and philosophical reasons, which are sufficient enough, but also from a literary standpoint, since many of these works from a distant past are full of literary inventions that we thought were created only in the late 20th century.

Reviews' excerpts

" impressive study of the figures of erotic discourse" a"welcome publication on one of the most neglected of literary genres.""Encyclopedic in dimensions"(…)"Brulotte offers his readers intelligent and detailed analysis of not merely literary critical, but also philosophical and socio-historical interest.""their manner of representation (the erotic works’) is analysed here in depth for the first time. (…) In both scope and approach, this new ars erotica constitutes a unique resource for interested scholars. Dedicated to the memory of Roland Barthes, it is also, fittingly, a real pleasure to read." John Phillips, Modern Language Review 96.1(2001): 212-213 Londres, Grande Bretagne.

"Other critics in recent decades have undertaken universal histories of erotic writing, in French and in English, attempting, as Brulotte does, to undo the work of censorship and to draw attention to a range of more-or-less disreputable texts. (…) The fact is, however, that Brulotte’s text is far more learned, more complex, and more engaging than any of its predecessors. None of them has done its work as well as his." Peter Cryle, AUMLA (Journal of the Australian Universities Modern Language and Literature Association) 93(May 2000) : 125-127.

"In response to much of the current work on erotic discourse, which tends to highlight only one particular period, author, or theme, Brulotte sets as his goal the presentation of a larger, more integrated view of what he calls "la littérature érographique." (...) The project is fascinating but it is the organization of the work itself that is perharps its most interesting feature. (...) The result of this detailed categorization is the creation of a vaste catalogue of erotic discourse (...) The depth and breadth of Brulotte's reading is apparent in the immense quantity of texts under examination. The manner in which he draws bits and pieces from this entire range of works to create thematic discussions of excess, letters, orgies, reflections, or rest (to name but a few more of his topics), is intriguing, and will stimulate many readers' inrerest in pursuing further some of the ideas he presents." Scott Manning, French Review (USA) 75.1 (October 2001): 153-154.

"A work that is out of the ordinary (…) a magistral essay, which will be a milestone (…) a major encyclopedia, which is exceptionally dense, well written, articulated in a most original fashion and decently libertine. (…) The amount of knowledge that this text supports, the elegance of its exposition, the novelty of approaches and the lexical appropriation of the discourse, all are intermingled in an impressive manner. (…) How can one not make his breviary out of this voluptuary! (…) The case is closed, out of "hell," Brulotte asserts himself as a devil of a writer." Pierre Lexert, Les Cahiers du ru (Aoste, Italy) 33, Summer 1999, p. 121-122.

"A magistral work on the delicate subject of eroticism (…) The work of Brulotte is now a paper giant, the product of a mature man who is well-advised and cultured. It will be a milestone, no doubt about it. Already, it is, I believe, absolutely essential for anyone who is interested in these works of the flesh." Muriel Walker, LittéRéalité [Toronto] XI.2 Fall 1999, p. 91-92.

"Demonstrates without neither clumsiness nor pedantry, thanks to a perfectly mastered theoretical basement, that the texts he calls erographic (…) have contributed a lot to literature. (…) This book is smartly written, it has not only a strong body but also a beautiful soul." Nicole Bajulaz-Fessler, Encres vagabondes, Paris, No 16, March 1999, p.57.

"The project does not lack ambition or originality. (…) Nothing seems to have escaped to Brulotte in the staging of the erotic body by the text. (…) The erography invents a leisure society of endless pleasure: that is the ultimate discovery of this essay which is as original as it is playful and gives us the keys to a literature that is not well-known." Francine Bordeleau, Spirale (Montreal, Canada) Nov.-Dec. 1999, p. 7-8.

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