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Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism Hardcover – February 14, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
In all honesty, the goings-on in this group don't seem all that rebellious given that the Victorians were notorious for honoring the form of propriety over the actual fact of it. The age of consent was surprisingly low, and prostitution was staggeringly wide-spread. It's true that there were laws against homosexual behavior, but they focused on sodomy -- anal intercourse -- and were also subject to something of a double standard. The rich and well-connected would have to rub the noses of the public in their sexual antics in order to suffer unduly for them.
What I think Lutz was aiming at -- and it's always awkward to try to second guess any author, so take this with a grain of salt -- is to show how the artists of the day were exploring beyond the limits society placed on their sexual expression. Which is what artists do. And certainly Lutz succeeds in this, with a lot of detail about both Gabriel and Christina Rossetti, Swinburne, William Morris and his wife, Jane; Simeon Solomon, who was one of the least known artists in the Pre-Raphaelite sphere; and Sir Richard Burton and his wife, Isabel. In fact, in some cases it seems to be a bit too much detail, not in the sense of being salacious, but in the sense of having very little to do with the central focus of the book.Read more ›
Although well researched, there is little new here that hasn't been documented by previous writers such as Steven Marcus or Peter Gay, who helped effectively explode the myth of the prurient Victorians. And Ms. Lutz's writing style, while clear, is often uninspired. The organization by theme rather than sequence allows for some repetition.
Nonetheless the story she has to tell is consistently interesting, especially if the reader comes uninformed, even when it doesn't wander within the realm of the erotic, and serves as a good introduction to some fascinating personalities.
The book serves as an excellent introduction to characters who've been memorialized by scores of more thorough biographies: Richard Francis Burton, A. C. Swinburne, Henry Spencer Ashbee (whose bio, "The Erotomaniac," by Ian Gibson, is a work of remarkable research), Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites, and a number of others. It's evident that Lutz admires these free-thinkers and adventurers, and she ably shares her enthusiasm for them. Soon you'll know all about "fladge porn" and the heartbreak of spermatorrhea and dozens of other erotic oddments-- it was a time of tremendous ferment and taboo-breaking, and there's much to praise in the actions of those who flouted the conventions of the era to open new doors of honesty and scholarship. To truly be yourself in any age is an act of courage. Lutz salutes these men (and several women) who broke the shackles of repression to be true to themselves and their desires.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This marvelous and beautiful book is a miraculous transposition of the literature of the sensationally erotic and sensual into a work of nonfiction. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Steve Harvy Sittenreich
Any sort of pornography you might want to look at is available to you with a few mouse clicks, and support groups for, say, group sex or S & M games are easily available if you in... Read morePublished on March 7, 2011 by Rob Hardy