Sexual Fables

This article accompanies
Alice's Mirrors

The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife

Sex between humans and other species obviously occurs.  There’s simply too much evidence.  But most of it belongs in the realm of erotic fantasy and provocation, rather than in reality, as in the famous shunga woodcut The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (aka Pearl Diver and Two Octopuses) from 1814-1820.  Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) was a brilliant exponent of the genre known as ukiyo-e, “pictures of the floating world” – c.f. here. Yes, but are those octopuses male or female?


Such erotic fantasies are generally decried as bestiality in the West and outlawed.  However, there has been a valiant effort of late to distinguish between love of animals without the sex (zoophilia) and love of animals that becomes sexual (zoosexuality).  It’s a distinction that eludes me.

The image below is by Édouard-Henri Avril (1843-1928), the prolific pornographic illustrator who went under the pseudonym Paul Avril.  This is one of his illustrations for De Figuris Veneris: A Manual of Classical Erotica, which seeks to include bestiality on the human sexual menu.


Avril also illustrated a later edition of Gamiani, ou Deux Nuits d'Excès, a French lesbian novel first published in 1833 and supposedly written by Alfred de Musset making use of his then-lover George Sand.  Then there is Leda and the Swan...

Below is a sculpture from India. Is it universal or just in Sir Richard Burton's "Sotadic Zone"?


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