Does Erotica Have Literary Value?


Erotica? Bondage? Inappropriate? Terrible? Seductive? Fifty Shades of Horrible?

There are all a few terms that have been known to describe the erotica genre. I’m sure there are plenty more, but I don’t care to delve into those at the moment. I’ve never read erotica, ever. It’s not for me. I have absolutely no desire to read it, at all. I’m sure some of it may be great, well-written, and amazing; but, I have no need to know what other people’s sex lives are like. If I want to know that, I’ll get on Facebook.

But my question is: Does erotica have literary value? Are there hidden messages behind the words? Is there a deeper meaning? I’m sure many people just see it as a way to send their minds off on a sexual adventure they may not have otherwise. They may see it as a secret pleasure they only partake in late at night with the lights off while hidden under a blanket. But is it literature? Are there themes behind it? Character development? Can it be written as satire?

As I said, I’ve never read it before, but I am curious as to whether or not it can have literary meaning, or if it’s just, as some might call it, “smut” to be read for pleasure-reading only.

What do you think?

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6 thoughts on “Does Erotica Have Literary Value?

  1. Sure there can be deeper meaning to a piece of Erotica. It all depends on the writer’s intent. A deeper message could be conveyed through eroticism, just as I try to convey meaning with Steampunk. As with any piece of art, the interpretation is up to the reader/viewer, just as the level of deeper meaning is up to the writer.

  2. If it’s well written and can convey a message through the writers voice then yes, it does have literary value. It’s like distinguishing porn movies and movies with boobie/butt action in it. They can fall under the same umbrella. And it’s all subjective isn’t it. I hate to bring it up but the amount of women who have proclaimed the wonder that is Fifty Shades is, in my humble opinion, frightening. Again, in my humble opinion, it is the complete opposite of well written. Smut and Erotica are 2 completely different things.

  3. Just a query here, Chris. Your question as to whether erotica can have literary value – are you of the opinion that something without ‘literary value’ is of less literary value. The reason I ask is because of the amazing popularity of ‘smut stories’. Seriously, man, work your butt off trying to sell a high quality literary piece then write some smut and watch people line up to read it. Readers most definitely ‘value’ smut/porn/erotic literature. Try and sell a romance novel without a quota of sex scenes. (Perhaps a fair question is whether or not a written work needs deeper meaning and character development to be of ‘value’ – to be literally valuable to readers.)

  4. I’d say erotica can have literary value. But since most erotica is just written to tittilate the reader, you’d have to really dig through the erotica offerings to find some worthy of praise, I would imagine. Although the more plot and character development you include in an erotica novel, the less erotic it gets, which kind of defeats the purpose of erotica.

  5. Ultimately, I would think that everything written is written for the goal of being enjoyed on some level. And everyone enjoys different things – and the same people can enjoy different things at different stages of their lives. Therefore, there is certainly entertainment value in anything. As to literary value of erotica … I guess it would depend on the piece. If it was written with a certain level of literary skill, then, sure, it would have literary value. Doesn’t mean it would sell in the millions, though. And who wouldn’t mind a slice of that pie?

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