French Library Loosens Morals, Unveils Erotica

Bibliothèque Nationale showcases 2 centuries of porn for first time
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2007 11:15 AM CST
The new L-shaped buildings of "The Bibliotèque nationale de France." The library recently unveiled its collection of erotic materials to the public for the first time in 170 years.   (Wikimedia Commons)
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(Newser) – Turns out the auguste Bibliothèque Nationale has one of the world's biggest official collections of pornographic books and prints, and today it's going on view—to those over 16—for the first time in 170 years. The erotic works, which have been hidden away in a section called l'enfer, or Hell, include works by respected authors like Voltaire and Apollinaire alongside pulp fiction and graphic depictions of sex.

Respected academics curated the exhibition, which includes works ranging from merely titillating to obscene. Most of the material is French, but the collection also includes explicit prints from Japan and works representing the "English specialty" of "flagellating novels." Their interest is more historical than literary, the curators acknowledge: "Not all the books can be called masterpieces." (Read more erotica stories.)