I’ve spent most of my free time thus far during my London trip reading an iconic BDSM novel, Story Of O by Pauline Reage.
I’d heard of the book before I purchased it on a whim at Rope Camp. Having learned that it was the basis for two sites on kink.com (The Training Of O and The Upper Floor), I knew this was a story I needed to read.
I finished the book in thirty-six hours. It was that good.
As I read it, I saw all the little ways kink permeated the pages. Saw all the subtle notes of my life reflected in the story. Even just passing mentions of intricacies of my kink made my heart flutter.
But now, having gone through the journey, having just finished the book, having invested so in the main character, her development, her journey, I am left with a sickening rage.
The final page of the book tells of a deleted chapter, the final chapter, full of heartache and betrayal towards a character I had grown to love by a character I had grown to love.
It said simply:
In a final chapter, which was surpressed, O did return to Roissy, where Sir Stephen abandoned her.
There exists a second end to O’s story. In that version, O, seeing that Sir Stephen was on the verge of leaving her, preferred to die. Sir Stephen gave his consent.
Having read those words, I damn near threw the book across the room. I’m holding back tears as I write this.
Through everything, through love and pain, questioning herself, questioning her love for one man and finding a deeper love with another, through two hundred pages of struggle and then finally to just be thrown away…
I do not understand… I cannot understand…
Sir Stephen was her Master, a man who found himself in love with her, who she gave all of herself to, and yet with one paragraph these iconic characters are sullied for me.
As O grew to love Sir Stephen, I too found myself falling for his character, at first hard and unbendable, but who morphed and changed even as he influenced O, pushed her further than she knew she could go. His great desire for her, his deep love for her, his need to have her fully and completely is something I cannot deny I desire from another.
I fear, and yet still find myself craving, to be owned. To give all of myself, to dedicate my being to another. But the idea of being thrown away, the idea of a Master disposing of his slave like she were just another fancy, brings my blood beyond boiling and scares away my resolve to even pondering the thought.
How can one call themself a Master, accept a slave, take on the responsibility of another life, brand them, pierce them, lock iron loops through them signifying their eternal bond, only to later set them aside like yesterday’s paper?
I wish I had never read that page, wish I hadn’t gone past THE END on what I thought was the last page of the novel. But now, having read that paragraph, I find myself trying to forget an ending I never thought would or could happen.
I’m surprised how much Story Of O struck a chord with me. Even with the dense winding of the translation (the book was originally written in French) and the mental hoops you have to jump through to absorb the writing, I found something about this book so compelling.
Maybe it is because the story is entirely from O’s perspective, giving insight not only into how she lived, the things she did (with and to whom), but also the why. Reading her pleasure in being a whore for her lover. Reading her thrill in being taken by whomever her Sir chose. The reckless abandon of the sex scenes (of which there are many). How complicated she was, both in her desires for men and women. And how much she changed from the first page to the last.
I love Story Of O. I understand why you can base two different porn sites off of it. Having read it, I can already feel its influence on me, can already sense how it will shift my writing.
But, more shockingly, I can almost feel the shift in me. I can almost sense how I’ve changed through reading it. Can almost imagine how I will be different now that the last page is finished, the book is closed, and I’m supposedly free from the bonds of the words.
Because I don’t feel free. I don’t feel like the story has ended. The book still feels wide open, splayed, ready to be read again through my body, my desires, my lovers… through me.
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