by Philippe Brenot and Laetitia Coryn
Black Dog & Leventhal, 2017
Review by Christian Perring on Sep 19th 2017
Originally published in French in 2016, The Story of Sex: A Graphic History Through the Ages has now been published in translation in the USA. It starts back in prehistoric times and gives an overview of the sex lives of famous rulers and ordinary people. Later on it addresses various issues in a more didactic way, reflecting the experience of Bernot as a psychiatrist and couple's therapist. The graphics are fun and cheerful, full of nudity and sex, but nothing very explicit or detailed. The basic theme of most stories is that people want to have lots of sex and do as many different kinds of sex as they can. In their selection of myths with famous people, they report as fact stories that are maybe possible, but certainly not documented. So it mixes in history with morality and some science with a horny enthusiasm, while portraying those who disapprove of sex as miserable moralists. It's very non-judgmental about just about any kind of sexual activity. The history it tells is very selective and some of the stories are just one page, which means they lack any significant detail. But it does cover a lot of history and topics, up to the future. It's a fun book with a good heart and some accurate information, but it should not be taken as necessarily giving the whole truth, and some of it is probably just made up. The most endearing aspect of the book is the sarcastic asides of the characters drawn in response to the commentary written above them.
© 2017 Christian Perring
Christian Perring teaches in NYC.