The East, the West and Sex: A History of Erotic Encounters

Richard Bernstein, Author
Richard Bernstein, Author Knopf $26.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-375-41409-1
Open Ebook - 231 pages - 978-0-307-27199-0
Paperback - 325 pages - 978-0-375-71389-7
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“Is the notion of the East as a zone of special erotic possibilities purely a matter of Western fantasy and wishful thinking...?” This question is at the center of Bernstein’s wide-ranging, critically astute history of the complicated relationship between Western male sexuality and the East. The book opens in 2006 Shanghai and concludes in contemporary Bangkok; in between, we are led through a sweeping yet focused, male-centered history of sexuality, spanning a broadly defined East and West, from antiquity to the 21st century. Bernstein examines Flaubert’s sexual exploits in Egypt, where he vividly recorded “a sensual intensity, impossible in the West”; British explorer Richard Burton’s travels through the Middle East, India and Africa, all exemplified by a sexual artistry uncultivated in Christian Europe; the fascinating case of the secretive Henry de Montherlant, a pederast who spent years in North Africa “greedy for flesh” and eventually took his own life. Former New York Times correspondent Bernstein (Fragile Glory ) writes lucidly and with verve. This probing, absorbing and eclectic study critically challenges morally and politically correct interpretations of the Western sexual exploitation of the East. 12 illus. (June 2)

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