Jul 132011

Speaking of Canadian’s with a kinky attitude towards sex, check out this trailer for director David Cronenberg’s next feature, a film about the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Karl Jung and their masochistic female patient, featuring a fair bit of costume drama and kink.

Cronenberg’s had an interesting career trajectory. His early films, such as Shivers (aphrodisiac parasites spread through a Montreal apartment complex) and The Brood (people start externalizing their psychologies through literal bodily transformations), were far more experimental and visceral and political, in the best traditions of 1970s horror films.

Over the decades, he’s become a lot more respectable. He complains in interviews that he is still listed in IMDB as “Dave ‘Deprave’ Cronenberg”. While I still consider myself a Cronenberg fan, and I respect his career decisions, I also feel that his latest films just aren’t as gripping as his earlier works. If I wanted to sell people on the idea that Cronenberg is a great director, I’d show them Dead Ringers or Crash, not Spider or Eastern Promises.

You can see the same concerns in his latter works like Eastern Promises or A History of Violence as in his middle period The Fly: a man struggling against his transformation into a monster. I still maintain The Fly is the superior work.

My hope is that this story will allow Cronenberg to loosen up a little and not understate his themes.

Jul 122011

You could do an interesting anthology of major literary figures who wrote porn/erotica on the side: Voltaire, Diderot, Byron, Swinburne, Wilde, James, etc. (Sacher-Masoch is a different case, a writer who is remembered only for writing erotica, when he is remembered at all.)

Canada’s entry in this particular literary field is John Glassco, who was quite prolific under several pseudonyms.

From a review of a biography of Glassco, published in The Walrus:

Glassco was a prolific author of elegant, sadomasochistic pornography; his internationally bestselling whipping classic, Harriet Marwood, Governess, is stylistically superior to many revered creations of CanLit. Yet in contrast to the reception received by the work of Henry Miller or Charles Bukowski, Glassco’s naughty books never attracted an underground following in his own country. Even Memoirs of Montparnasse, praised everywhere, fell into neglect after accusations that it caught the spirit rather than the letter of the lost generation.

The author’s blog also discusses Glassco’s pornographic offerings in detail:

In his seventy-one years, John Glassco produced five books of verse, eight volumes of translation, and the prose masterpiece Memoirs of Montparnasse, but not one approached the sales he enjoyed with The English Governess and its sister book Harriet Marwood, Governess. Both stories of flagellantine romance between a boy, Richard Lovel, and his beautiful governess, Harriet Marwood, they’re easily confused and are often described as being one and the same. Harriet Marwood, Governess, though published second, is actually the older of the two. In 1959, it was offered to Maurice Girodias, but the publisher thought it too tame. Glassco then rewrote the novel – apparently with the help of his wife – slashing it by more than half and ramping up the sex. Made to order, as The English Governess it was quickly accepted and appeared within ninety days under Olympia’s Ophelia Press imprint.

Publication by Olympia put Glassco (or “Miles Underwood”) in august company, including Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett, Nabokov, Burroughs and Reage/Aury/Desclos.

There are also discussions of Glassco’s flagellant poem and literary hoax Squire Hardman, another pornographic hoax called The Temple of Pederastry, completing Aubrey Beardsley’s Under the Hill/Die Venusberg, and the rubber fetishist novel Fetish Girl (written as “Sylvia Bayer”)(Further discussion)

A discussion of different editions of The English Governess.

As a Canadian, it’s nice to know people of Canada are keeping the end up. More on that in another post.

Addendum: Busby as another blog dedicated to promoting his book and discussing Glassco.

Addendum: I think Glassco may have been the author of the mysterious excerpt from Beardsley’s Under the Hill printed in Gerald and Caroline Greene’s S-M: The Last Taboo.