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Mighty Lewd Books: The Development of Pornography in Eighteenth-Century England Hardcover – October 3, 2003
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'Long overdue, an assessment of English pornography needs to pay attention to context as well as content. Peakman's book is rich with detail and she presents texts that have long been hidden from view. A must read.' - Margaret C. Jacob, UCLA, USA
'When [Julie Peakman] started out, the topic of erotic writings was a largely uncharted and under-theorized field. To a considerable degree she has had to carve out the boundaries of the topic for herself and work out her own intellectual framework... well-researched, well-documented, well-argued and coherent... makes a substantial contribution to scholarship' - Roy Porter
'It is now generally agreed that the creation of new sexual stereotypes and forms of self-identity in the eighteenth century is central to the creation of 'modernity'. Part of this process was the emergence of new, and newly domesticated, forms of pornography and erotic writing. Mighty Lewd Books gives us a readable, engaging and conprehensive account of the history of eighteenth-century pornography and erotica. By exploring the history of this artefact of sexual behaviour at the moment when modern sexualities were created, Peakman provides a new and important understanding of both the meaning of dirty books, and the origins of modernity.' - Tim Hitchcock
'This...fascinating and intelligent survey shows how an explosion of obscene literature immediately followed the wild success of pioneering (but largely non-pornographic) fictions by Defoe, Swift, Richardson and their imitators...Porn's strongest selling point were that it was sexy, unrespectable and forbidden, of course, but Julie Peakman shows that it had other attributes, not always connected directly with sex. It popularised new scientific ideas in botany, anatomy and electricity. It stoked the fires of anti-Catholicism with its lecherous monks and nuns, and it encompassed radical ideas in politics.' - Financial Times
'Drawing heavily on the contents of what the British Library quaintly terms its Cupboard, better known as the Private Case, plus a vast bibliography of secondary sources, she [Peakman] displays the whole world of Eighteenth-century erotica/porn and offers explications of both practice and theory.' - Erotic Review
'...fascinating book...well-written and researched...this book offers intriguing new insights into a hidden area of gender history, challenging many preconceptions about the c18th century.' - BBC History Magazine
'This is a serious work for those with serious interest in the theme, but given the rollicking nature of that theme, there is reason to smile frequently.' - Rob Hardy, The Dispatch
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
This is a relatively short work giving her analysis of the trends in British erotica. The focus of her studies is not just books with the singular purpose of arousing the reader. She will include materials that were incidentally sexual in content and other that were clearly satiric utilizing sex as topic to underline the extremes of the satire. She will also propose that the "under the counter" publications had both political significance and occasionally educational value. Her chapters will identify the relationship between the advent of new venues and imagery within major pornographic books as these same topics presented themselves to the larger public.
The 18th century was notable for new systems of botanical analysis and the beginnings of the understanding of electricity. Following these new trends in public discussion, there would be new variations in the imagery in her books. The chapters mostly focus on the relationship between changes in awareness and knowledge in the public library and how they mirror in the private library. Her last chapters are exception to this model by their focus on Anti-Catholicism and how that was fed into the place and subject matter of erotica and the near unique creation of a british market for books and stories about flagellation.
In general, Professor Peakman succeeds in laying out her separate topics, placing them in their historic contacts and relating them to how each topic were being handled in the larger society.Read more ›