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It is the new big thing: 50 Shades of Grey. Written by E. L. James, of her real name Erika Leonard.


Today it reaches almost 60 million of sales worldwide. The original english version sold out for more than 40 million units. In Switzerland, the success is huge, especially in the french part. According to Mr François Duvaut, Litterature responsible at Payot book stores, 50 Shades of Grey became number one after the first day !

It all began with E L James and her frustration around the saga Twilight. For her, this vampire saga in which Edward (the vampire) has a impossible love for the young Isabella, was missing a little of “spice”. Too pinky cheese for her taste. So, she decided to write a “fan-version” of it in which we would discover a much more “hot” version of the Twilight characters relationships. This version is called Master of the Universe, or MOTU. It was released first of all as a e-book and the buzz started. If you wish to read this first version of what would become 50 Shades trilogy, you can see the PDF version here below. Enjoy.

Master of the Universe – Complete I
(this link will stop working after November 28th. Post me a comment below and I will send you the file)
Please note this text belongs to E L James, you should use it only for your personal “pleasure”.

Facing the huge success of this fan-version, E L James took out this story from online and created the famous trilogy :

50 shades of Grey
50 shades Darker
50 Shades Freed

The first book, 50 Shades of Grey got a huge success by being considered as “mummy porn”. In deed the first readers were considered to be mothers, over 30 and that this book would represent some sort of escapism.


The book was initially sold as an e-book. Thanks to the development of smartphones and tablets, everyone could read 50 Shades of Grey in a complete discreet way. Amazon annouced that 50 Shades of Grey was the first book to reach 1 million downloads on Kindle.

sexy couples

What is the story? 50 Shades of Grey is the first instalment in a trilogy that traces the deepening relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a young business magnate, Christian Grey. It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism.

50 Shades of Grey images

50 shades of Grey is part of what we call Universal Novels. These are books that you can easily read, that appeals to common values shared by a specific society at one similar point. Many other sagas got to this level of universal reference. See here the key sagas:

Click on the image to enlarge:


1934 to 1940: The Count of Monte Cristo
1954 to 1956: The Creature of the Black Lagoon
1954 to 2012: James Bond
1958 to 1965: The Fly
1972 to 1990: The God Father
1977 to 1983: Star Wars – The Trilogy
1979 to 1985: Mad Max
1979 to 2009: Star Trek
1981 to 2008: Indiana Jones
1997 to 2007: Harry Potter
1999 to 2003: The Matrix
1999 to 2005: Star Wars – The Prelogy
2001 to 2003 : Lord of the Rings
2005 to 2012: Twilight

What all these sagas have in common? They probably cross different lines and bring a specific theme or genre, into another audience dimension. Can be science fiction, magic, vampires and now with 50 Shades of Grey, Porn and  dominance/submission, sadism/masochism (BDSM). There is a sort of democratization of subjects. Science fiction went from Isaac Azimov towards Star Trek or The Matrix. 50 Shades of Grey brings a very taboo subject on the mouth and the minds of every person. Almost if now it was ok to read pornography. Nevertheless, we can see that it is not tomorrow that a nice mum, accompanied by her children will be calmly reading this book in the park. It is still a kind of hidden activity but the democratization of sexuality and of this book, gives you a sort of acceptance in a restricted comfort area. This shows that little by little literature dares to talk about certain things but society is still blocked.


That is why 50 Shades of Grey is a sort of escapism on women’s daily lives. Although we call it “mummy porn”, which might have been the case at the beginning, today the audience are definitely women, under 30 years old, urban, in a relationship or not. So this book allow women to project themselves to become someone else, Anna, and enjoy the freedom of getting involved in such a sulfurous relationship.

Traditionally speaking, it was always easier to talk in literature about suffering rather than pleasure. But recent evolution and the new generation of writers are more obsessed with pleasure.

The story of 50 Shades is merely quite cliché finally. A story about luxury, power and sex. But all critics agree to say that it is really well written. It allows many women to cross the line of a certain literature and probably to become more adventurous in bed.

We can do it woman

According to Ms Catherine Robbe-grillet, erotic writer and fan of BDSM, 50 Shades is not that pornographic. There is a lot of buzz around it because many things are suggested and some of the scenes of course are a little more daring than normal. And that is the key of this success. It brings you into an extreme universe but still in the safe side. Anastasia had to sign a contract with Christian Grey, he did not need to submit her.

There is currently a big buzz around the casting for the film adaptation. Some people say that Christian Grey will be played by  Ryan Gosling but lately the name of Matt Bomer came on the table. What do you think?
 Ryan Gosling

So until the film get out on theaters in 2013, you all have probably the time to read the 3 volumes, so that you get updated on the adventures of Christian Grey and Anastasia.

So, ready to become a little “shady” ?

Info sourced at E L James website, wikipedia, Allocine and many others. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available.