When Flesh Becomes Word collects nine different examples of British libertine literature that appeared before 1750. Three of theseThe School of Venus (1680), Venus in the Cloister (1725), and A Dialogue Between a Married Lady and a Maid (1740)are famous "whore dialogues," dramatic conversations between an older, experienced woman and a younger, inexperienced maid. Previously unavailable in an affordable edition, these dialogues combine sex education, medical folklore, and erotic literature in a decidedly proto-pornographic form. This edition presents other important examples of libertine literature, including bawdy poetry, a salacious medical treatise, an irreverent travelogue, and a criminal biography. The combination of both popular and influential texts presented in this edition provides an accessible introduction to the variety of material available to eighteenth-century readers before the publication of John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure in 1749.
The publication of John Cleland's Fanny Hill in 1749 marked the emergence of what we term pornography. What might be called erotic and bawdy literature certainly stretches back to Ovid and Martial. But such work was a mixture of genres, making various claims. As the novel emerged as a "realistic" depiction of life, the pornographic novel developed as a "realistic" treatment of sex. To provide us with a fuller sense of the context for the development of the pornographic novel, Mudge (English, Univ. of Colorado) has compiled an anthology of "prepornographic" literature. This includes 17th-century translations of "Whore Dialogues," such as The School of Venus, erotic poems, and spurious medical treatises like Gonosologium Novum and Aristotle's Master-piece. There are also marriage manuals and obscene travelogs, such as A New Description of Merryland. The collection concludes with Henry Fielding's The Female Husband, a rogue biography. Given the rarity and yet the unacknowledged importance of these kinds of work, Mudge provides a significant service for understanding both the origins of the novel and the special character of pornography. Highly recommended.-T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Savannah Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Title: When Flesh Becomes Word: An Anthology of Early Eighteenth-Century Libertine Literature
Author: Bradford K. Mudge
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Date Published: April 2004
Edition: New Edition
Table of Contents:
|List of Illustrations|
|A note on the texts|
|Introduction: British Libertine Literature before Fanny Hill (1749)|
|Ch. 1||The School of Venus (1680)||1|
|Ch. 2||The Pleasures of a Single Life (1701), The Fifteen Comforts of Cuckoldom (1706), and the Fifteen Plagues of a Maiden-Head (1707)||59|
|Ch. 3||Gonosologium Novum (1709)||87|
|Ch. 4||Venus in the Cloister (1725)||143|
|Ch. 5||A Dialogue Between a Married Lady and a Maid (1740)||233|
|Ch. 6||A New Description of Merryland (1741)||257|
|Ch. 7||The Female Husband (1746)||287|
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