Dr Will McMorran, a specialist in French literature and the history of sexology, has translated the best-selling graphic novel The Story of Sex for publication in the UK.
The book originated in France in 2016, where it attracted rave reviews and wide-spread acclaim for its honest and “truly feminist” portrayal of sex through the ages.
Written by author Philippe Brenot and illustrated by Laetitia Coryn, the book quickly became a best-seller – moving more than 20,000 copies in its first month.
The Story of Sex tackles complex issues with honesty and frankness, including the ways in which religions have shaped our view of sex, changing attitudes towards homosexuality, and how some ancient civilisations were way ahead of their time when it came to gender equality.
Will was asked to translate the French because of his high-profile research on the Marquis de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom, as well as his expertise regarding the history of sexology in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Story of Sex draws extensively from French history and literature – featuring material on writers like Montaigne, Sade, Hugo, Sand, and Baudelaire.
Will says: “There is a growing body of research that shows how internet pornography may be shaping sexual practices and expectations in teenagers, and as this book says, sex education in schools is often fairly cursory. A book like this offers a genuine antidote to the kind of misogyny that informs so much internet pornography, and I for one would be happy for my 15-year-old son to read this book - and happy for his school to hold copies of it too. I suspect schools may not be brave enough to order this book, but they really ought to.”
He describes the book as a genuinely feminist history of sexuality – “one that keeps answering the question, 'Where are the women in all this?'”
He adds: “It also takes a stand about religious attitudes towards sex, and about gay marriage, which is still very controversial in France, so politically it's been quite brave and polemical. The book works best when it shows that there is nothing natural about our attitudes towards sex, and reveals the hidden cultural history that informs these attitudes.”
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