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Fanny Hill: Memoirs Of A Woman of Pleasure (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – December 30, 2001
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--Erica Jong --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Inside Flap
The tale of a naive young prostitute in bawdy eighteenth-century London who slowly rises to respectability, the novel-and its popularity-endured many bannings and critics, and today Fanny Hill is considered an important piece of political parody and sexual philosophy on par with French libertine novels.
This uncensored version is set from the 1749 edition and includes commentary by Charles Rembar, the lawyer who defended the novel in the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case, and newly commissioned notes. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Similarly to Defoe's "Moll Flanders," Cleland's novel begins with its heroine, Fanny Hill, an innocent, uneducated country girl, thrown at a very early age into the cruel world of London and forced into a life of prostitution. As an innocent virgin, the madam whose house she live in is saving Fanny for a noble customer whom they expect daily, but learns about sexual commerce by watching other prostitutes in the house. Eloping with a beautiful, wealthy young man named Charles before she engages in any sexual activity, the novel concerns Fanny's sexual awakenings and her life with and without her first love, Charles. The way that the novel refigures fidelity in the relationship between Fanny and Charles is astounding.
Cleland's master-stroke, if you will, linguistically, is to write a whole-heartedly pornographic novel and couch everything in such a rich variety of metaphors. Graphic scenarios can be found on almost every page, but there is a marked and remarkable absence of graphic language.Read more ›
Mind you, in some respects "Fanny Hill" is quite a good book too. We'll get to the reasons for that in due course. Nevertheless, I found it difficult to get through more than a few pages without laughing. Why? Because the author can't seem to come right out and say what he means, but has to describe it in the most strained, outlandish metaphors.
John Cleland came up with this story back in the early Hanoverian period, twenty to thirty years before the American Revolution, so I can't say what variety of dirty words he may have had access to, but you won't believe the ways he has his narrator, Miss Hill, describe a man's "engine" without actually naming it. The same goes for the corresponding parts of a woman's body, of course, and the narrative tends to describe two people having sex in similarly mechanistic terms.
Which is all very well - we're talking about the tale of a woman who makes her living by this mechanical process, after all. However, the metaphorical approach is not only funny in itself, it also adds a surprising layer of romantic detachment to the whole business. Yes, you get this poetic, romantic language in the middle of some of the raunchiest physical activity in existence, and the result is just plain hysterical. Eventually, Miss Fanny Hill sees a young man's white skin beneath his pubic hair and compares it to a sunrise peeking through the silhouettes of the forest trees. That was about it for me.
For all I know, John Cleland's contemporaries might have read these comparisons and thought them perfectly reasonable, but a sunrise through the trees? Really, now.Read more ›
Fanny is an orphaned girl who goes to London to Seek Her Fortune and ends up with a career alternating between prostitution and being a kept woman. Unlike most porn, she's not always happy about her sexual encounters, and there are times when she's heartbroken over a lost love. She's decieved by a woman who claims to be hiring her "as a companion," in a another scene she's exploited by a money-hungry landlord.
As she grows older, though, Fanny becomes more in charge of her sexuality and more open to exploration. We, as readers, also see a glimpse of 18th-century prostitution and the demimonde of kept mistresses (which many wealthy men of the period kept).
Hardly a rollicking farce (there are times when sex has serious consequences) but at times it is humorous. Never crass or vulgar, but nevertheless explicit, this bawdy gem is worth checking out. Fanny is always honest about herself and what she does to survive, and pulls no punches. (I took away a star because, at times, it is difficult going because of the outdated language, but don't let that deter you.)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This work by Fanny Hill is a very poorly written expose of a young girl's sexual awakening. It reads like that of a sixteen-year-old... Read morePublished 2 months ago by woodsever
Couldn't find the "12 illustrations", but otherwise a good, mildly erotic yarn.Published 5 months ago by greg edmund
A book of the differential of society and the times of events in Edwardian to Victorian times.Published 16 months ago by mogley
Excellent window into the enlightenment period. Well written.Published 22 months ago by Amazon Customer
I think that I have seen the film (if there was one!) or have read it some time ago.
It is an 18th century romp and therefore I feel not to be taken too seriously. Read more
It was okay, but not much substance to the story. Very wordy and over-punctuated, which made for a tiresome read. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to a casual reader. Read morePublished on April 18, 2014 by Cuero Cooper