Keywords: Erotica, Sexuality, Cult writing

Title: The Image

Author: Jean de Berg

Publisher: Creation Books

Media: Book

ISBN: 1840680962


It's fitting that Nexus chose to launch their new 'Nexus Classics' imprint with what is very clearly a modern erotic classic. Unlike many of the other books in that series ? such as Maria del Rey's 'The Institute' and Aran Ashe's 'Choosing Lovers for Justine' ? 'The Image', by Jean de Berg, was not a home-grown Nexus classic at all. Like that other classic of modern SM fiction 'The Story of O', 'The Image' was first published by Olympia Press in Paris in the '60's. The pseudonymous author has never been officially recognised, though most critics agree that it was probably penned by Catherine Robbe-Grillet, though whether Dominique Aury, (who penned 'The Story of O' as Pauline Reage), actually wrote the introduction to 'The Image' (included in Nexus edition as well) is open to dispute.

While 'The Image' is less well known than 'O', the two books stand side by side in terms of literary and artistic merit. It's no surprise that Susan Sontag picked both books as rare examples of porn novels which are also 'literature'. And, quite clearly, 'The Image' is a work of pornography ? the language, the focus, the intensity all mark it out as porn first and art later.

The story revolves around the relationship between the male 'author'\narrator Jean and two women ? the distant and enigmatic Claire and her younger, submissive partner Anne. Jean is drawn into the relationship between the women, first as an observer and then as an active participant in Claire's domination of Anne. However all is not as it appears and the end of the story manages to be at once surprising and yet obvious as the logical conclusion of the three-way relationship.

This is a book that stands head and shoulders above most porn writing ? and it certainly deserves the recognition that the 'Story of O' has achieved.

Contents © London Book Review 2006. Published March 29 2006