1-Star Amazon Reviews of Classic Erotic Fiction

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If you only know one thing about Fifty Shades of Grey — well, one thing besides that it’s a wildly popular BDSM novel with a film adaptation due out Friday — it’s probably that E.L. James’ bestseller isn’t very good. Critics, when they deign to consider its literary merits, haven’t been kind; a few years ago, it even became a common pastime for journalists and talk-show hosts to make celebrities read its notoriously awkward sex scenes aloud.

But to be fair to James (perhaps more than fair), most of our classic erotic novels weren’t exactly celebrated in their time. Napoleon’s review of the Marquis de Sade’s Juliette and Justine consisted of imprisonment without trial. James Cleland and his publisher were both arrested over Fanny Hill. And so on.

Even today, there are plenty of voices ready to condemn literature’s erotic canon. You can find them, of course, on Amazon. From poor reading comprehension, general ignorance, and faulty chronology (The Story of O is not, in fact, a Fifty Shades ripoff) to suspiciously well-informed technical quibbles and some genuinely sick burns (D.H. Lawrence gets straight-up read), here’s a collection of Amazon’s most entertaining one-star reviews of classic erotic novels.

Juliette by Marquis de Sade

“I have never read such repetitive nonsense in my life. I guess Sade could get away with writing such inane dribble because people were just not aware of human anatomy and the consequences of a lot of what he writes about. A lot of the torture is not possible in the context he uses, it just won’t work.”

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong

“If the main character wanted to do something to express herself as a strong woman, and help the feminine cause, why not train as a biochemist or architect or police officer?”

“I think that Jong must have meant this book for people who were alive during this time.”

“As someone who has a genuine phobia of flying I thought that this book might provide some useful insights. After about a hundred pages I realized that it was just a lot of lurid filth. It is a total con. I ended up throwing it off the train somewhere in the middle of Manitoba. Probably the biggest rip since the Neverending Story.”

Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin

“If I was looking for this kind of content, I’d just watch law and order special victims unit.”

The Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille

“When I bought this book I thought it was going to be wildly erotic. I think a lot of amazon book reviews are misleading. But, I guess it’s different strokes for different folks. If you think blood,gore, people urinating on each other and people mutilating a priest and an animal and driving an innocent insane is sexy then this book is for you. I would give it minus 10 stars if it was possible.”

Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland

“It is a book about a young girl who really has no clue.”

Candy by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg

“Southern, who cannot be solely at fault as this incredibly bad novel actually took two people to write, and his coauthor Hoffenberg utilized more euphemisms for a woman’s private parts than I have ever encountered. Not since the days of riding in the back of a schoolbus during grade six field trips have I heard more offensive (and some downright laughable) euphemisms. I suppose if you were a middle-aged heterosexual man with zero personality and a lifetime of failed interactions with women in the late 1950’s, Candy was a print version of a wet dream.”

“I did not read this book. It was not what I thought it was.”

The Story of O by Pauline Réage

“It makes ROOTS look good.”

“I’m so sick of these books using 50 shades for sales. Can’t anyone be original?? I’m burnt out on all the BDSM books. Every one of the men are billionares and are gorgeous….WTF? I’ts all typical wanna be 50 Shades.”

“Being a mathematician, I immediately bought the Story of 0 when I first heard about it because I wanted to learn why Indian mathematicians invented the number. After I finished reading it, however, I realized it was not the story of 0 but O, a dimwitted woman who knows what (most) men want. Since I read it, though, I’ve not been able to concentrate on…what was I saying?” [Ed. note: excellent trolling]

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

“If someone recommends this book to you, it probably means they are a sadist that gets particular joy in the harm of women.”

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence

“The book’s message is simply that men like women who are able to climax at the same time as their partners without any need for foreplay or other effort on the man’s part (Lawrence likes to call this ‘gentleness’)…”