Apr 21, 2010

The Story of O

I just finished reading The Story of O. I guess maybe it seems odd that I'd never read it before, but, I hadn't. I also have Madame Bovary sitting on my nightstand, waiting to be opened, if I can ever put down that stupid DS. LOL

Anyway, I found it wonderful. Not the best writing (speaking strictly from a technical point of view) I've ever come across; but of course, you have to take into account that it was translated from its original French. But it draws you in, makes you want to read more, puts you into the main character's mind. Yes, it is erotic, in its own way, but it comes across more as an emotional kind of story. A girl truly finding herself and learning what makes her the happiest and what truly opens her soul. Maybe it's easier to see past the chains and sex when you are already of a submissive mind-set, and more understanding of O's frame of mind, I don't know.

After I read it, I was looking the story up online. I found some interesting things. Like that the symbol on my collar is very like the true "ring of O" that she receives at Roissy (where she is educated in slavery, so to speak), and that the simple band with the ring on it is the simplified version used for the movie. I knew that my collar was ordered from a bdsm type site and that the symbol is used by many in that way, but I didn't know the O reference. Interestingly, that triskelion symbol has quite a depth of meaning back through the ages, and I love that I've suddenly learned so much about it! It makes it that much more meaningful to me!

I know there are many who wouldn't understand this: "It is only when you make me suffer that I feel safe and secure," says O to her master, Sir Stephen. And I understand that being a submissive, slave, whatever one chooses to call oneself, isn't something that appeals to all. But I did find this tidbit quite interesting:
The book tells the profound, and disturbing, story of a woman who wishes to exist without existing: "She lost herself in a delirious absence from herself." Through utter humiliation, O rises. Susan Sontag called the book a story of "an ascent through degradation." Such a woman today would, of course, be pathologized and, ironically, "healed" by more socially acceptable methods of control: institutionalization and medication. link

How true is that?! How is society's control of someone, in ways that they deem "acceptable", in order to make that person fit a mold that they deem "appropriate" any better than self-sought slavery or submission? We are all slaves: to society, to our family, to any number of things, and it seems to me far better to be able to choose what makes you happiest and most fulfilled than to submit only to certain bonds of slavery just because you are told the majority of people wish you to. It certainly makes you think anyway...


  1. LB,

    That book has never been a favorite of mine and I've read it several times. I guess I have issues with the story (not the parts that you talk about but mostly with the beginning) That said, I'm always interested in other people's perception of it.


  2. Interesting you should say that about the beginning, mouse. It took me about until the middle of Chapter 2 to really start liking the book. What I like the most is the way it is presented from a female point of view and how she is so proud of who she has become. Thanks for your viewpoint.

    I'm interested in other people's views on this story as well! I love literary discussions! :)

  3. the only reason i was able to like the book is because i almost immediately labeled it as fantasy (at least for me). I also liked that it was from the female perspective. Its just not the kind of situation or relationship I would be happy in. I honestly read it as if it were fantasy/erotica and didnt think much more of it. Same with the Anne Rice Beauty series.


  4. Storey, you make a very good point. While I look at some of her attitudes as being realistic (I am quite proud of being my Daddy's little girl and of my collar, for instance) and I like her development as a woman/character, most of the things that actually happen in the story can only really be read as fantasy. (Imagine that chain hanging down from you...) As I was reading, I was thinking about some of that and trying to fit it into real life, and there would just be no way. The situation, well, there are definitely aspects I would NOT be happy with. Giving myself totally to a man I respect and love-yes; being made an object of affection for any man who cared to "drop in"-umm, no.

    Thanks so much for your comment! <3 I've never read the Anne Rice series. Maybe I should check it out?

  5. Little Butterfly, Can't add anything as I've just started reading it for the first time but for some reason I'm not sure I like the beginning but I don't know why, can't explain it.

    Also not sure if I'll carry on with it.


  6. I actually couldn't get passed the first part of the book. I felt like she was being tricked... coerced into something almost against her will. I did end up watching the movie and found it rather disturbing.

    In some ways I can relate to how she felt at certain times. In a fantasy setting it could be a good story (with a bit better writing as you mentioned), but in a realistic sense I think her situation was bordering on abusive. Well at least from my point of view.

    I know a lot of people like it and the book is used a lot as a perfect example of what a submissive should be, but I'm one of those who doesn't agree. It just left me feeling very troubled, but then that could have a lot to do with my background too. Who knows.

    Glad you were able to find something positive in it though! I imagine the message is different for everyone.



  7. Ronnie: I do hope you finish. It isn't too long, really, and I find the second half better than the first, because of the personal progress inside of herself that she makes. Of course, that being said from a person who refuses to put down any book; the only book I've ever stopped reading was Moby Dick, and I just couldn't stand the writing THAT much. Should try it again though...

    Turiya: It WAS odd that the book began so abruptly, with us introduced to the character as she was being taken to where the training took place. It leaves you wondering whether she'd shown submissive tendencies already, or if her man merely decided to take her and throw her into the whole thing. You mention about being tricked and that is the one thing that rang badly for me, in that, later in the story, O has a friend named Jacqueline that her guy falls for and says they simply must have her at Roissy to train. O doesn't really like that idea and asks what if she won't go? He responds, Then we force her. I didn't like that sentiment at all! Also, I myself wouldn't go so far as to say the book is a perfect example of what a sub should be... her pride in herself, her feelings of happiness with what she has become, her love of submission to the man she ultimately loves... these are ideals I find myself admiring in a submissive. But the way they tell her she must be ready to be, essentially, violated at any time, and their total objectification of her are not really good examples for any woman to look to, in my opinion.

    Thanks for your comments! <3

  8. i've always wanted to read this book (also toyed with seeing the film but i think that would be just too much)...
    it's the beginning of it that everybody talks about that scares me off, i'm scared that it will be too 'near the knuckle for me' and end up sending me into a bad place emotionally...

    its kinda like curiosity killing the cat, lol, i so want to read it but i'm just not sure if i dare.
    Maybe i'll pluck up the day! x

  9. I am with Lilli on this one...I have read others perspectives on this book for the past couple of years, but have yet to pick it up. Partly because of the reviews I have read....but you have peaked my curiosity again. Your review and perspective is the first positive one I've read...ever. So now...I will just have to see for myself as well. Thanks LilB!