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Fanny Hill: Or, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Penguin Classics) Paperback – January 7, 1986
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"An American Duchess" by Caroline Fyffe
A woman’s heart dares to defy the rules of Victorian society in USA Today bestselling author Caroline Fyffe’s novel of romance, royalty, and a little revenge. | Learn more
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About the Author
Peter Wagner is a lecturer at the Catholic University of Eichstatt in Bavaria. His books in English include a study of Puritanism in colonial New England, and a survey of erotica in the age of Enlightenment.
- Item Weight : 6.3 ounces
- Paperback : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0140432493
- ISBN-13 : 978-0140432497
- Product Dimensions : 7.73 x 5.1 x 0.57 inches
- Publisher : Penguin Classics; Reprint Edition (January 7, 1986)
- Reading level : 18 and up
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #367,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Fanny Hill is a strange sort of book. It's not really my own cup of tea, but I do see its great value in the history of literature (it's widely considered to be the first work of English prose pornography). If you're expecting a tasteful classic, you'd be well advised to look elsewhere. But if you're interested in the development of the English novel as a literary form or in the history of pornography and censorship of literature, this book becomes required reading.
Ultimately, it's a long-form dirty story (or rather a series of interconnected dirty stories), told primarily through puns and double entendre (in fact, the reader will be hard pressed to find a single "dirty" word despite the subject matter). Even the title is a double entendre. And yet, while it would be easy to read this book entirely as the author's own sexual fantasy (which it undoubtedly is), there is enough "literary" content to raise the question of whether the novel should be read purely for titillation or whether it does in fact contain some valuable commentary on the human condition.
At the end of the day, the modern reader looking for a pornographic work will likely be disappointed by the slightly outdated language and will probably find the lack of explicit speech tedious. On the other hand, the reader looking for a glimpse into a seldom-discussed element of literary history will not be disappointed.
This particular edition of the book, on the other hand, leaves much to be desired. The book is entirely devoid of any sort of historical or critical commentary, which some readers will find desirable and others will find disappointing. It's also worth pointing out that this is an oversized "magazine-style" publication which actually renders the physical act of reading a little bit awkward. Stranger still, the book has been artificially divided into chapters even though the author's original work had no such divisions. This isn't necessarily a major distraction, but it raises some questions about the quality of work put into producing this edition. Along similar lines, typographical errors abound, and the reader is left to wonder how many of them were preserved from the original text and how many of them were introduced by this edition's editors.
If you just want a cheap edition so you can read the book, this might be the version for you, but if you want a high-quality publication of the work, you would be well-served to pay slightly more for a superior edition.
The eloquent skill aside, Cleland paints a torrid imagery on the canvas of 1740s London.
I must add (esp. in view of the cover illustration) that, although Cleland is a man (and it shows in a lot of the scenes), it is MEN who are shown experiencing masochistic delights, not hapless (and very stupid) young women (cf. Grey Shades).
The sex in this book is graphic. The descriptions of "engines" and "chinks" are overblown and hilarious. Fanny and her paramours certainly seem to enjoy themselves, and simultaneous orgasm is always achieved! There is never a violent or scary or even utterly abject moment, so a life of prostitution is quite romanticized here.
This edition has some typesetting issues toward the end of the book (dropped letters and mixed up spacing), and sometimes they did interfere with being able to read the text accurately.
The book is a quick read and funny. Fanny is a stereotypical prostitute with a heart of gold who is rewarded with middle class respectability. Not realistic, but definitely entertaining.