The concept of the erotic is elusive. Philosophers have always found it difficult; writers of fiction regularly present its phenomenology but rarely with much analysis of its components. It both includes and intimates facts about our sexuality, but it involves much more than the merely sexual. It suggests and often approximates ideas about love, but frequently falls short. It is a loose and tantalizing, occasionally titillating, concept and therefore quite suitable for the essayistic writing of Frank Gonzalez-Crussi MD.
The eight essays in this collection range from the implications of there being two sexes to the devices men and women have used throughout history to seduce one another. The chapter titles give an accurate idea of the contents: Eros Ambiguous, or the Obscure Object of Desire; On Male Jealousy; The Remedies of Love; The Divine Marquis (de Sade); Some Views on Women, Past and Present; The Conditions for Seduction, According to an Old Chinese Text; Views on the Erotic; On Secrecy in Love.
Gonzalez-Crussi approaches such topics as a medical man who is also, and in these essays primarily, a witty, well-read dilettante in various literatures--Spanish, French, Latin, even Chinese. In one place he says, in the candid and fluid style that characterizes the entire book: "I have long learned that the personages of fiction are endowed with a more real kind of reality than any granted to flesh-and-blood beings. It no longer bothers me to hear it said that examples drawn from fiction are idle and that a writer's effectiveness is enhanced by quoting instances from so-called real life."