Sandra at her desk, bent over some papers. I’m sitting in an armchair a few meters away, reading an erotic novel on my Kindle. I can hear her rustling the pages, occasionally hammering away at the keyboard of her laptop. She lets out a deep sigh that seems to come from deep within. Long drawn out, with a lot of timbre in her voice.

I know the sound from a completely different context. And although I know that Sandra is merely sighing over a task at this moment, thus describing the whole heaviness of her existence, completely different images are immediately evoked in me. Scenes of erotic passion, images of letting oneself fall and being carried. Moments in which Sandra forgets herself during lovemaking and finds her way into the common rhythm. Sounds awaken associations.

I like it when she breathes loudly through her mouth. Although we’ve been together for years, this sound still excites me. Immediately it brings back memories of moments when she lies next to me in bed, her warm body snuggled against mine, her mouth close to my ear. Where I hear her reaction to my touch immediately, in every hitch in her breath, in the change in the pace of her breathing, in the way she draws in a sharp intake of air when my fingers make her shudder.

Why are sounds so often limited to stereotypes in erotic literature? Why does so little more happen than the usual groan of penetration?

When I think about the subject of “sounds in erotic literature,” I immediately go to Henry Miller. I think it was in “Tropic of Cancer.” Van Norden tells Carl a story, inconsequential really. It’s about some conquest. But then he mentions this smacking sound with which he opens the sex of a young woman. And this smacking sound never lets go of the author, haunts him. This sound makes the story, which until then Van Norden thought was boasting, believable. And Henry, the author, later uses the same episode in a second volume, in “Silent Days,” as I recall. He must have been fascinated by this sound himself, by its effect in literature. Here is the original sound:

He says she was sitting there with her legs dangling over the back of the chair, and suddenly, he says, it came over him. That was after he had already done it with her a couple of times … after he had done the little game with the Matisse. He drops to his knees – imagine that! – and with his two fingers … just the fingertips, mind you … he opens the little petals … sksch – sksch … just like that. A lebrige small sound … almost inaudible. Sksch – sksch! Dear God, I hear it all night long!

Henry Miller: Tropic of Cancer

The rustling of clothes falling to the floor comes to mind. Love is full of sounds, sex is full of sounds. A compendium would be worthwhile here, starting with the various human sounds, the stroking of hands over fabric, the soft opening of a button, and ending with the ecstatic screams of an impending orgasm. I am certain: that erotic literature thrives on the fact that all five senses are addressed, even orchestrated. The better this succeeds, the greater the chance of standing out from the mass-produced masses. Or, to put it in a smaller way: At least Sandra and I want to go this way. We would be happy if you accompany us via this blog.

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