"Written in the Flesh" is a history of sexual desire - a
startling and provocative history of what people yearn to do
sexually. It is the story of the whole body's need for sexual
attention rather than simply the genitalia and their procreational
The desire for sexual pleasure and total body sex - that is, the
expansion of sexuality from a limited focus on the face and
genitals to include the entire body - is certainly not a new
phenomenon: the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Chinese, amongst
others, were quite familiar with eroticism that went beyond the
strictly heterosexual and procreational. In the long centuries of
Christian Europe, when miserable conditions of life and religious
repression conspired to minimize the expression of sexual longing,
desire was driven underground. Yet in the late nineteenth century,
increasing privacy, prosperity, and good health again permitted the
underlying biological urge for total body sex to express itself,
and encouraged a shift of erotic pleasure toward new and unexplored
body zones: the mouth, nipples, anus, and further.
This new work by renowned medical historian Edward Shorter
demonstrates that desire is hard-wired into the brain, expressing
itself in remarkably similar ways in men and women, adolescent and
adult, and in gays, lesbians, and straights alike. Drawing from a
wide array of sources, including memoirs, novels, collections of
letters, diaries, and indeed a large pornographic corpus, Shorter
explores the widening of Western society's sexual repertoire.
"Written in the Flesh" is a history of what people like to do in
bed and how that has changed. The change is relentless: human
sexuality continually seeks new means of liberation in its
expression of pleasure.
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