Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Article excerpt

SOME of the programmes on Channel 5, which to me seems nothing but the dreariest and most tawdry porn, are dignified with the label 'erotic drama'. They say erotic, I suppose, because it sounds a bit classier than sexual.

Though anything human can be elevated and complicated beyond the animal, erotic - despite the efforts of C.S. Lewis in his book The Four Loves boils down to 'sexual', like it or not. And if Chaucer wrote of Eros, the adjective comes into English no earlier than 1622, in the form erotica! in that relentless miller of words Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy.

Burton would make a poor copy-- writer for Channel 5, since he attributes to the erotical passion 'daily mono-- machies, murders, effusion of blood, rapes, riot and immoderate expense', besides loathsome diseases 'worse than calentures and pestilent fevers', and, in short, 'feral melancholy, which crucifies the soul in this life, and everlasting torments in the world to come'. And all this between Newsnight and Despatch Box on the other side. …

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