Written works, such as novels, stories, memoirs, that arouse the reader sexually, whether they are fiction or not.
Books, Stories, Manuals, that are either fiction or actual experiences, that elicit a sexual arousal from the reader.
Such works are not always intended to create such a response either, but are factual accounts, or fictional situations, that create a sexual stimulus among the readers.
Erotic Fiction is a term given to novels and stories that have a sexual theme or that deals with sexual situation, however is considered different from pornographic fiction.
These Erotic Fiction generally have a more involved plot, and are an attempt at including some form of social commentary on society, in general or about specific events.
A story about same sex marriage for example, that had explicit sexual descriptions within it, could be called Erotic Fiction, as it also relates the complications of such relationships.
Erotic Literature is noted throughout history including even the Old Testament, such as in the Song of Songs. Fellini even made a movie (Italian, 1969, homoerotic story) from the Ancient Roman Satyricon by Petronius Arbiter.
Erotic Literature was constantly under scrutiny, and legal harassment, from early on. In many cases, this was due to the inclusion or mockery made of current religious doctrines at the times.
The book 'The Decameron' (1353) (by Giovanni Boccaccio) was banned in many countries for Centuries. The latest being of eight cases where a Magistrate ordered the burning of these books, in England between 1954 and 1958. It was also banned in the United States up to that time as well.
While the book itself was a collection of tales, poems, that dealt with sexual subjects, the primary objection was its reference to Monks, Nuns, and Priests, engaging in sexual acts.
Many of its tales are also the foundation for more modern works of literature, including works by Chaucer, Keats, and even Shakespeare.
History (Legal): The first modern reference to a conviction for obscenity, in England, is dated 1727 with the conviction of Edmund Curll for his work, Venus in the Cloister or Nun in her Smock.
Prior to that, it was the Ecclesiastic Court that handled such cases, which was later turned over to the Crown. It wasn't however until the passage of the Obscene Publications Act of 1857 that authorities were given the power to seize and prosecute on the basis of material being obscene.
The act didn't detail what was or wasn't obscene, and some years later (a decade) the Chief Justice decreed that 'obscene' was more about the effect on a person, not whether there was any intent in the work to corrupt that person.
It wasn't until 1959 that this law was changed, to protect the literary value of some works, while at the same time increasing the penalties for works that were purely pornographic.
The trial of Lady Chatterley publishers tested this law, and was the grounds for their acquittal as the work was considered to be of literary value.
Noteworthy: With the Internet, more works of fiction, dealing with sexual themes, or acts, have become more common. While book publishers face a dwindling market, the Internet has allowed more writers, to express their own visions, their own sexual fantasies with a wider audience than published works ever could.
Should be noted though, that public readings of erotic literature are recorded of being held as far back as 1700s Britain.
While laws within a country may allow a certain book, story to be sold or viewed, taking them across a border can still be up in the air. Custom Agents have greater latitude, and can seize material they deem obscene, or even deny a person entry if they have such material.
While the material might be available within the country, Customs Agents / Border Agents seem to be the sole arbiter on such matters at the crossings. Canada is notorious for such seizures, even though the publication or contained material is available within the country.