Unveiling the Scandal: The History of "Delta of Venus" and its Provocative Journey

When I first read Delta of Venus, it’s safe to say the collection of short stories shocked me.

At 16 I was accidentally delving into my first ever erotic novel, and unsure if I “should” be reading it or not, the racy pages kept me turning them. Years later I discovered the author was an influential feminist artist and essayist, and that Delta of Venus is in fact one of the most important works of modern female erotica in history.

A stack of three books sits on a desk with a pair of reading glasses sitting on top. In the background there is what appears to be a brown paper bag out of focus.

The book’s author Anaïs Nin was largely ignored until the 1960s, by which time she was in her 50s, and today is regarded as one of the leading female writers of the 20th century and a source of inspiration for women challenging conventionally defined gender roles. Nin was an avant-garde writer known for her exploration of female sexuality and her candid depiction of erotic experiences. It was in fact her personal journals, filled with intimate revelations, that provided the inspiration for Delta of Venus.


It all started during the 1940s when she found herself in need of financial support. She reluctantly accepted a commission from a mysterious collector of erotica where the collector, who remained anonymous, requested a series of explicit short stories for his private collection. The stories were requested to be set in various locations, exploring a wide range of sexual encounters. Nin embraced the challenge, crafting a collection that would later become Delta of Venus. The book spans the years from 1931 to 1974, and gives an account of one woman's voyage of self-discovery: "It's all right for a woman to be, above all, human. I am a woman first of all," she wrote in one of her diaries regarding her subject matter.


When Delta of Venus was finally published after her death in 1977, it caused a seismic shock in the literary world. The book's explicit and unapologetic exploration of sexual desire, fantasies, and taboos challenged the prevailing conservative attitudes of the time. The scandal surrounding its release was fueled by the fact that Nin herself had not intended for these stories to be published during her lifetime. Nin's vivid prose and unflinching portrayal of human desires, both mundane and taboo, pushed the boundaries of acceptability. The book dared to explore the depths of human sexuality, offering readers a glimpse into the complexities of desire, pleasure, and the human condition. Despite the initial scandal, the book has since become an iconic work of erotic literature, inspiring countless authors and readers to embrace their own sexual liberation, challenging societal norms and encouraging open conversations about desire and pleasure. The book's enduring popularity is a testament to its ability to spark dialogue and challenge repressive attitudes towards sexuality. By fearlessly exploring and celebrating female sexuality, Nin's work paved the way for future generations to embrace their own desires and challenge the status quo. It served as a catalyst for the feminist movement, empowering women to reclaim their bodies and their sexual agency, a story in itself we can all feel inspired by

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