Michael Bywater

Stiff Competition

O: The Intimate History of the Orgasm

By

Century 288pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

The cultural history of sex has had a good run in recent years. We’ve had Rachel Maines’s scholarly, startling, and hilarious history of the vibrator, The Technology of Orgasm, after which most male readers will have needed a period of fasting and prayer before rejoining the ladies. Michael Mason’s The Making of Victorian Sexuality positively glittered with the shards of shattered prejudices, while solo sack-artists had their own lonely striving anatomised in Solitary Sex, an alarming history of masturbation from a history professor at Berkeley, in which the traditional fate of those who commit the horribile crimen of wanking (becoming feeble and blind, with before dying in a loony bin) was revealed to have been pseudonymously invented in the early eighteenth century. And (moving from the craftsman to his tool) A Mind of its Own, David Friedman’s cultural history of the penis, gave us possibly the most erudite dick book ever written.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • He has 'raised his country’s international influence to unprecedented heights, while at the same time jailing hundr… ,
    • 'It is one of those nice linguistic ironies that English should have attempted to make sex respectable by clothing… ,
    • 'He was to my mind the father of the idea that journalism – yes, even journalism – can have a moral dimension to it… ,
    • RT : Feeling old, as exhumes a piece I wrote 37 years ago. But a joy to see Kathy O’S there too. Here’s why:… ,
    • 'Enough of his character remains just out of reach for Barnes to relish the challenge of imagining him.' Patrick M… ,
    • RT : I did a thing about the new Penguin Book Of Oulipo for this month’s Literary Review: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Moore’s work has been so influential that the former ministers who provided him with much of his information now r… ,