May 27, 2008

Revenge: Limited Edition by Ellen von Unswerth

Last week was a hard week and I didn't much done in the way of reading. Still, while I didn't get to finish anything that I've got started, I did manage to get side-tracked by Ellen von Unwerth's lovely book of photographic erotica, Revenge.

While there is a general narrative arc (taken as "excerpts" from the diaries of the nubile young heroines), von Unwerth primarily uses stylized black and white photography (think Helmut Newton meets Man Rey) to tell the story of how the Baroness "disciplines" her newly orphaned nieces.

It is not an original story, but Revenge is really not about the story. What little narrative there is, is executed with a tongue-in-cheek panache that sets the winkingly saucy tone of the book. And the eroticism in Revenge really does have panache. The models are gorgeous (think Robert Palmer's Wall of Babes), the clothes (when there are clothes) are gorgeous, the set (a glorious mansion and its extensive grounds) is gorgeous - all in the style of the lovely pornography of early 20th century France and Italy. 

The sado-masochistic elements tend less towards real pain and suffering and more towards the discomforts of dominance and submission in a campy, Vogue Paris sort of way. You can't help but laugh, but you also can't put it down - it's just too damn pretty.

Though I found the pleasure of reading Revenge to be more aesthetic than erotic, I certainly won't deny that it was a pleasure all the same. Revenge: Limited Edition is a sexy little volume, all the more so because it doesn't take it so too terribly seriously. If a book could wink, this one would.

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