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234 × 156 × 20 mm
320 pages
156 illustrations, 36 in colour
31 May 1999
Essays in Art and Culture
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Sex and the Floating World Erotic Images in Japan 1700-1820 Timon Screech

Timon Screech's definitive Sex and the Floating World offers a real assessment of the genre of Japanese paintings and prints today known as shunga. Changes in Japanese law in the 1990s enabled erotic images to be published without fear of prosecution, and many shunga picture-books have since appeared. There has, however, been very little attempt to situate the imagery within the contexts of sexuality, gender or power. Questions of aesthetics, and of whether shunga deserve a place in the official history of Japanese art, have dominated, and the question of the use of these images has been avoided. Timon Screech seeks to re-establish shunga in a proper historical frame of culture and creativity.Shunga prints are not like any other form of picture for the simple fact that they are overtly about sex. And once we begin to examine them first and foremost as sexual apparatus, then we must be prepared for some surprises. The author opens up for us the strange world of sexual fantasy in the Edo culture of eighteenth-century Japan, and investigates the tensions in class and gender of those that made - and made use of - shunga.

‘With concern, proportion, wit and a bit of levity, the author of this authoritative and invaluable contribution to scholarship has given us the book for which we have long waited.' - Donald Richie, Japan Times'Screech provides a fascinating and informative introduction to the social and sexual habits of pre-modern Japan, copiously illustrated and full of witty anecdotes as well as solid scholarly research. The ideal bedtime read?7’ — Insight Japan

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Timon Screech is Professor in the History of Art at SOAS, University of London, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is the author of many books, including Sex and the Floating World: Erotic Images in Japan, 1700–1820 (2nd edn, Reaktion, 2009).

1. Erotic Images, Pornography, Shunga and Their Use
2. Time and Place in Edo Erotic Images
3. Bodies, Boundaries, Pictures
4. Symbols in Shunga
5. The Scopic Regimes of Shunga
6. Sex and the Outside World
List of Illustrations