Delta of Venus (1977)
by Anaïs Nin
This book of erotic short stories was published posthumously in 1977. As the foreword by Nin recounts, she forced be economic circumstances to write erotica for a wealthy collector during the 1940's. She remembers that he told her to be "more mechanical, with less emotion." If you could accurately describe the difference between mere pornography and literature, that would be the formula. Her main reference points (besides her imagination and the experiences of her various bohemian friends) are the 1000 Nights and a Night and D.H. Lawrence. The Arabian Nights influence is more in terms of the linking of stories within stories and the lack of main narrative focus. D.H. Lawrence permeates the manuscript. Also, one would imagine, Henry Miller, with whom Nin is forever associated.
And it's also clear that Nin was familiar with 18th century writers like the Marquis de Sade and 19th century writers like Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Delta of Venus somewhat systematically explores a catalog of perversions including every sort of intercourse, different brands of sexuality, fetishes and a deep emphasis on female character who want to be penetrated to the depths of their womb.