Erotic literature is a branch of erotic art and comprises literary texts with an erotic background, especially if they are illustrated by corresponding pictures.
It is difficult to distinguish the term “eroticism” – and thus also erotic literature – from sexuality and love. Thus, in a pictorial representation it must be distinguished whether it is actually aimed at an erotic effect, such as a naked woman in a clear posture, or whether – in contrast to this – it is an image that is attached to a teaching text for illustrative explanation. For example, in the pictorial depiction of the biblical creation story of Adam and Eve before the Fall, their nakedness stands for paradisiacal innocence and has nothing to do with eroticism. Classical writers and poets – like Ovid in his art of love – have already written instructive texts on sexuality and eroticism, but have used linguistic and stylistic means to distinguish themselves from clearly pornographic literature.
The assignment of texts and illustrations to erotic literature has changed over time and is evaluated differently in the individual cultural circles. In a broader sense, erotic literature includes handbooks from the Kama Sutra to Joy of Sex as well as fictional poems, stories and novels with predominantly erotic content.