Here at Steamypunk, we love our alternate-timeline erotica. But we also love the historical erotica which made this genre possible. In its own time, such sexual expression held a lot of risk for those who produced or consumed these works, due to restrictive obscenity laws and societal attitudes.
Fast-forward 100-150 years, though, and many of these works are freely available online, long-caged texts that have been set free. The language of such texts may seem outdated, but the themes are universal.
In our ongoing book review column “Tooth & Nacre,” we will explore Victorian erotica (and modern works, when relevant) in the pursuit of inspiration, illumination, explication, and (of course) excitation. We’ll look at texts old and new, wide and far, long and short — you name it! We’ll clarify archaic language, evaluate the works’ erotic and literary content, and explore the historical and social contexts for these works.
The name, “Tooth & Nacre,” is a nod to the traditional method of testing pearls — rubbing them against one’s tooth to test the authenticity of the nacre (outer shell) — and the periodical “The Pearl,” an erotic magazine published by William Lazenby.