Exploring Early Modern Erotica and Social History in L’Enfer de la Bibliothèque nationale de France

L'Enfer Imagery - Part 1 post montage

│By Philip Virta, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources│

 Please be aware that this blog post contains content that may be offensive to some readers; the decision to read the post is at your own discretion. 

Back when Playboy, “an American men’s lifestyle and entertainment magazine”, was still publishing, the usual comment from anyone observed purchasing an issue from the newsstand was, “I just get it for the articles.” In the case of my latest research foray into L’Enfer de la Bibliothèque national de France, I really was just looking for the pictures.

As so often happens in research, we travel down one path, only to encounter interesting intersections. I started out studying the evolution of beauty and body standards in erotic art through the centuries. Along the way, I became equally as interested in the books themselves. The histories of the lives of some of the authors and artists was intriguing. The motivations and movements behind the books they wrote were fascinating. The themes and agendas written into the texts were engrossing. There are a wealth of topics to explore once you slip beneath the covers of the books and plumb the depths of Enfer.

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Sex! … and Sexuality, and Gender

By Phil Virta, Senior Acquisitions Editor at Gale
Phil Virta has worked at Gale for more than fourteen years in various capacities, most recently as a publisher of digital primary source archives in charge of the Archives of Sexuality & Gender programme. He enjoys long walks through dusty archival collections, visiting far-flung places and frequent woolgathering. When he doesn’t have his head in the clouds, he can be found researching new archive ideas, working on his stamp collection, watching squirrels, or planning his next tropical vacation.

Please be aware that this blog post contains content that may be offensive to some readers; the decision to read the post is at your own discretion.

Mention the word ‘sex’ while you’re chatting with anyone and you’re likely to get a variety of responses from rational to emotional to visceral, depending on whom you are speaking to:

“Did you just say ‘sex’?”
[Lewd laughter]
“I’m so embarrassed right now that I’m blushing.”
“Ewwww!”
“I’m a doctor; we can have a frank discussion.”
“What about sex?”

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