Pornotopia is characterized by its freedom from the normal social restraints of place and time - as Marcus put it, "It is always summertime in pornotopia". External reality is either split off entirely, or its problems dissolved under a tide of sex.
Beginnings will be sketchy, but, as Marcus argues, "it is an end, a conclusion of any kind, that pornography most resists": one reason Susan Sontag singled out the novel The Image as transcending its genre, was precisely its finely structured conclusion, retrospectively illuminating all that had gone before.
They are also largely invulnerable. Thus in the Story of O, just as the chains never rust in her fairytale-style château, so too the inhabitants are never damaged by their ordeals, and never lose an iota of their allure in a triumph of the imaginary over the reality principle.
Historian Brian Harrison criticized Marcus's concept of pornotopia for being based exclusively on a small number of mid-Victorian texts drawn solely from Britain, from which Marcus drew far-reaching conceptual conclusions about the comprehensive genre of pornography. More recently, Thomas Joudrey, drawing on the same archive that Marcus had examined at the Kinsey Institute, challenged the concept of pornotopia by calling attention to the pervasive presence of bodily decay, suffering, and death in Victorian pornographic novels, manifested in such phenomena as impotence, castration, torn foreskins, slack vaginas, incontinence, and syphilitic outbreaks.
- "Definition of "pornotopia"". collinsdictionary.com. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
- Steven Marcus, The Other Victorians (1971) p. 272-276
- Daniel Bell, The Winding Passage (1991) p. 302
- Steven P. Marcus, The Other Victorians (1971) p. 276
- Linda Williams, Hard Core (1989) p. 239 and p. 170
- T. Lovell/J. Hawthorne, Criticism and Critical Theory (1984)
- Edwin Morgan, 'Introduction' Alexander Trocchi, Helen and Desire (1997) p. vii
- Steven Marcus, The Other Victorians (1971) p. 282
- Susan Sontag, 'The Pornographic Imagination', in George Battaile, Story of the Eye (2001) p. 84-6 and p. 109-10
- Steven Marcus, The Other Victorians (1971) p. 275-6
- Jean Paulhan, 'Essay', in Pauline Réage, Story of O (1975) p. 163
- Jacques Lacan, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis (1992) p. 202
- Harrison, Brian. "Underneath the Victorians". Victorian Studies, Vol. 10, No. 3 (March 1967), pp. 239-262.
- Thomas J. Joudrey. "The Ethics of Anti-Perfectionism in Victorian Pornography." Victorian Studies 57.3 (2015): 423-32.
- Cole, Kristen L. (July 2014). "Pornography, censorship, and public sex: exploring feminist and queer perspectives of (public) pornography through the case of Pornotopia". Porn Studies. 1 (3): 227–241. doi:10.1080/23268743.2014.927708.
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- Goodheart, Eugene (1991). Desire and its discontents. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0231076432.
- Mertner, Edgar; Mainusch, Herbert (1970). Pornotopia: das Obszöne und die Pornographie in der literarischen Landschaft [Pornotopia: obscenity and pornography in the literary landscape] (in German). Frankfurt am Main: Athenäum Verlag. OCLC 250958139.
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- Poynor, Rick (2006). Designing pornotopia: essays on visual culture. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 978-1568986074.
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- Symons, Donald (1979). The evolution of human sexuality. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-502535-0.