The Erotics of Virtue (Obituary Essay on Dominique Aury/Pauline Reage, Author of Story of O)

Kenneth Anderson


This essay originally appeared in the LA Times book review as an obituary essay on Dominique Aury, author (under the name Pauline Reage) of the pornographic classic Story of O. The essay argues that Story of O is a fairy tale in which the heroine, O, seeks to escape from modernity's enforced virtues of equality, freedom, and choice into a world of the virtues of hierarchy - the eroticized analogues of religious submission. The novel is driven forward by a downward spiral in which O seeks to surrender herself to her masters and so escape from modernity's insistence on liberty and equality.