• Anna Wall

The Story of O

You’d be forgiven thinking that our mothers and grandmothers lived pretty unadventurous sex lives. Until recently, as far as I was concerned, grandmas were basically just friendly nuns who made you cookies and called you blossom. How wrong I was…

Now perhaps you don’t want to think about your grandma having sex, if this is the case it’s probably time to click back to that puppy video you were on before and live a life of blissful ignorance. If you’re adverse to S&M I’d also perhaps read another article. And if the two together brings a little bit of vomit to your mouth then here are some clumsy penguins to amuse you instead.

If however, you’re as interested in what G-Ma and G-pa got up to in the bedroom, then turn your attention to what I would like to call the ORIGINAL fifty shades of grey… on steroids, and chained to the wall, it's pretty kinky.

The Story of O was published in 1954 by French Author Anne Desclos (who wrote under the pseudonym Pauline Réage or Dominique Aury) and word of warning… it is raunchy AF. Not five paragraphs in, the man of the moment (there will be more just you wait) demands "Unfasten your garter belt… and take off your panties.” Grandma, behave yourself! Just one chapter further and you get the full sense just how kinky this book is as she begins to detail the brutal gangbang by her lover and three unidentified men. “All four of them had taken her, and she had not been able to distinguish him from the others.”

The novel was always assumed to have been written by a man because us lovely, sensible women couldn’t possibly have such debaucherous thoughts and fantasies. The true identity of the author was only revealed in 1994 when, 86 year-old, Anne came forward. Hugely prominent in the literary community in France, she was a translator, editor and judge of literary awards, and has been referred to as rather “nun-like”.

So as an academic, intellectual woman with a range of hedonistic, debaucherous fantasies what made her put pen to paper and divulge her deepest, darkest secrets?

A man. Her lover. Having become concerned that her lovers attention may be shifting, and well aware of his predisposition for the kink. Desclos decided to write the novel, despite her partners belief that erotica wasn’t a thing that women were capable of. With the novel being the most widely read contemporary French novel outside of France in the 1960’s, it’s clear she did a pretty good job of recreating the kink. Many view the novel as a whole feminist one, suggesting that it is the female ‘O’ in the story who captures the men's attention and desire and dictates their satisfaction through her reactions and emotions to the situation.

Though absolutely true, the wonderful exploration of sexuality and fantasy seen for the first time through female eyes is particularly empowering, you do have to wonder if the story behind why she wrote it perhaps tells a less empowering story. ‘’I wrote it alone, for him, to interest him, to please him, to occupy him. I wasn't young, nor particularly pretty. I needed something which might interest a man like him,’’ she said in a documentary years later. Empowering exploration of female sexuality and fantasy or a woman so desperate to recapture the interest of an uninterested lover that she would do anything to please him? Who knows.

The Story of ‘O’ begins with such ferocity and desire fuelled brutality, it is enough to make this pretty open sex writer blush. Unlike Fifty Shades the book boarders on barbarity in these first few chapters, with little to no storyline, just one woman’s fierce, ferocious, gangbang fantasy. Possibly only the most dedicated sadomasochist could get passed the initial chapters, but if you do manage, a story line does emerge and knowing the context surrounding the novel, makes it worth the read.

Darkly sexual the novel is definitely not for the faint hearted and though the first few chapters seem like nothing more than pretty twisted brutality it eventually deepens into an exploration of one woman’s relationship with surrendering her freedom and identity in order to satisfy the demands of her lover. Amongst the kinky AF erotica is a profoundly spiritual exploration of sexual desire, love and relationships.

Anna Wall is a self-confessed hedonist and self-appointed travel expert. She drinks coffee until its appropriate to move on to wine and believes that there is nothing more satisfying in life than good wine and a good book. She's scared of balloons, the dark and of growing up.

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