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'Erotic literature definitely has its own charm'

Last updated on: December 02, 2009 20:23 IST

A remarkable number of young people are getting hooked onto erotic literature. Why do these aficionados prefer the written word to let their imagination run riot to the usual audio-visual erotica? Arnab Nandy reports.

With the Internet extending its web to nearly every house in the city, watching a porn movie at home is no longer a big deal for urban youth. Some are actually bored with it. "Life mein variety mangta hai, boss!" (We want variety in life). This is where erotic literature steps in.

Erotic literature includes stories, novels, poetry and comics that are written with an intention to excite the imagination of their readers. Then there are forums like Penthouse, which is available in both magazine and online versions, where people share their own experiences and of course, there is a lot of fiction available both on the Internet and at the local bookstore.

In recent times, quite a few Indian authors writing in English have begun talking about sex explicitly in their books. And readers are not complaining. Ruchir Joshi recently released a sex anthology called Electric Feather -- The Tranquebar Book of Erotic Stories, which has 12 first-time authors writing erotica. When questioned about the difference between porn and erotic literature, Joshi told national magazine Outlook, "Porn leaves nothing to the
imagination, while erotica excites it (imagination)."

The first print of Amandeep Sandhu's Sepia Leaves, which, according to the author, "traces the boy protagonist's sexual discoveries", has been sold out. Sandhu is now writing another book in which he explores sexuality in a boys' boarding school.

As Indian authors begin to explore sexuality, the number of readers has been increasing by the day. Some read because they are just curious, others because they love the imagination involved in the process of getting excited while reading words in black and white. For them, the words cease to be just so; they become living flesh and blood forms, exactly the way the reader wants them to be.

"The beauty of erotic literature is that it allows you to picture the whole situation exactly the way you want. While reading quality erotica, a reader can become totally involved and the arousal level is great," says Rudrani, a media student based in Delhi.

For some, who frequent websites like Literotica and read Penthouse letters, reading erotic stories is actually more exciting than regular audio-visual porn. "It leaves more to your imagination," says Swagata Basu, a second year post graduate student at Calcutta University.

"I love reading erotic literature, both foreign and Indian. Apart from Literotica, there are several websites that carry Indian stories. Apart from stories, I also read online comics that have a sexual focus. Savitabhabhi was a great site, too bad they banned it," rues Saikat Basu, a young Hyderabad-based professional. But Saikat finds regular porn more exciting. "I'd say the arousal level while reading such literature is around 60 percent of that while watching audio-visual porn. But erotic literature definitely has its own charm," he adds.

Women seem to be bigger fans of erotic literature than men. "I have read quite a bit of erotic literature and have loved it. I think reading erotic stories has exactly the same arousing effect as watching regular porn. You actually see the stuff in there, you imagine it," law student Rittika Das says unabashedly.

"I don't quite like regular porn because I find some of the stuff depicted as repulsive and crude. But here, there is a sense of story and you can let your imagination run wild. I find that more interesting. I mostly read such stories on the Internet. There are several groups and communities on social networking sites where members post such stories," Swagata explains.

However, erotic literature is definitely not for everyone. Rajaditya Mukherjee, a Jadavpur University computer science engineering student tried it, but did not like it. "I have tried it. But it certainly is not an alternative to regular porn, as far as I am concerned. It does not turn me on."

Indian society is coming of age. "Seeing erotic literature as a taboo is meaningless. The minds of different people work in varied ways. So, it comes as no surprise that some prefer reading about sex, enjoying the process of imagination involved, while others enjoy watching regular audio-visual porn," says psychologist Swati Mitra.

Arnab Nandy, Trans World Features