Shades of Sadism

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The abbreviation BDSM (short for Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission) was coined after 1945, however, the erotic practices to which it refers have been present in literature for centuries. The topic seems to be favoured by a great variety of contemporary literary texts and films, from Jenny Diski’s novel Nothing Natural, through Killing Me Softly by the write-team Nicci French, to the recent and extremely popular Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by the British author E. L. James. They all present the same phenomenon in contrasting styles; three similar approaches which are resolved differently by the victims of the sadists with remarkable solutions. In all the three novels I intend to discuss this phenomenon, as represented through some of the shared aspects in the stories; the characteristics of the dominant figures and their strategies of deception and manipulation, the estrangement of their objects of desire from their former life and the use of threat while the partners are involved in the relationship. I will examine the possible ways out of a repressive relationship of this kind, when the victims are aware of its decay.

sadism, masochism, diski, french, james