In 2002, Christopher Hart recommended ten works of erotica (from ancient to modern times).
Hart included The She-Devils by Pierre Louÿs, a friend of Claude Debussy’s who wrote book-length erotica from 1896 until 1917. (Louÿs didn’t make the Guardian’s 2005 list of “the top 10 sexy French books.“) Susan Sontag said that Louÿs’ book is “one of the handful of erotic works that achieve true literary status.” There’s an on-line catalogue of his works. Over the years, artists have provided some great illustrations for his books. Here’s an example from a book of poems called Pibrac. Here are some more pics by various artists.
Probably the best known work by Louÿs is his sapphic Songs of Bilitis (available on-line), an edition of which was illustrated by a Hungarian artist named Willy Pogany. Louÿs initially passed off Bilitis as the long-lost poems of one of Sappho’s courtesan friends.
Here are more of Pogany’s pics for Bilitis, and more again. Many of the best illustrators of the time provided art for the many editions of Bilitis, and in 1897 Debussy composed “Three Songs of Bilitis”.
For illustrations of Bilitis, I prefer those by Georges Barbier.
There are several YouTube clips of Barbier’s work. Here’s the one for Bilibis: