A sex and pregnancy manual from 1680 that was incorrectly attributed to Aristotle is going up for auction this month at Lyon & Turnbull in England.
"Aristotle's Compleat Master-Piece" may have been banned in Britain until the 1960s, according to some sources, though that is uncertain. One thing is for sure: "It was taboo and a lot of people didn't want their name on it," said Lyon & Turnbull book specialist Cathy Marsden, during an interview.
As for why the book was pegged to Aristotle, "we think it was just to kind of raise the profile of the book," Marsden said. Also, there has been some suggestion that bits of the book, though not very much at all, could be attributed to Aristotle's work. Bits also seem to come from the work of 17th-century physician Nicholas Culpeper and 13th-century saint and grand thinker Albertus Magnus.
The book, though taboo, was by no means " The Joy of Sex," the 1972 cookbook-esque writing known for its explicit drawings of sex poses and the like. Images in this "master-piece" show a woman's torso and drawings of hairy children with extra limbs, and according to the Guardian, an image showing a woman's torso opened up to reveal a baby in her womb. But there are no actual explicit images, she said. [The Sex Quiz: Myths, Taboos & Bizarre Facts ]
"It kind of explains the approach to marriage and when young people should be getting married and then it goes on to try to explain why children have deformities; they call it monstrous births," Marsden told LiveScience. "They explain how to conceive children and how to conceive male and female children," said Marsden, adding the book describes what type of moon to lie under to conceive a male or female child.