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The Pearl Paperback – September 29, 1996

4.1 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

James Jennings is Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Director of the Trotter Institute, he is the author of numerous books, including "The Politics of Black Empowerment, Understanding the Nature of Poverty in Urban America, Race and Politics", and "Blacks, Latinos, and Asians: Status and Prospects for Activism".
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 643 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reissue edition (September 29, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345410041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345410047
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
Other than the 18th Century Fanny Hill, The Pearl is the earliest genuine Victorian erotic classic. In tone, style and subject matter, it is undoubedtly the Real McCoy of the genre.
As they say, there is something for everyone, and much that may not be of interest. The writing is varied...reflecting the different contributors, but uniformly well done. Often funny, frequently raunchy, mostly playful, The Pearl should be able to offer something you like if you have an interest in Victorian erotica.
The text follows the magazine format from which it was taken, so that the stories are arranged in installments that pick up and resume after other segments. This can be distracting if you particularly want to follow one thread, but not difficult once you get used to it. The "plots" are not significant, in any event. Great scenes of initiation into sex, voyeurism, and other delights. Interestingly, women seem to like this book (at least parts of it) which is not a given with its successors. My partner loves the scenes of blushing young maidens being initiated by a strapping youth beside a meadow fence, and the like.
This is a tome you will mark up for re-reading favorite passages. Get it even if you don't like mild S&M, incest, and punishment...you can skip those sections. As you get to know later examples of the Victorian genre, you will never lose your fondness for the original article.
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Format: Paperback
This is a classic of erotica, with something for everyone. This appears to be a genuine Victorian work. The S/M is very Victorian, and very well expressed. There are generous helpings of homosexuality, male and female, along with plenty of heterosexual couplings, all with a reasonable literary flair. BTW, to buy this book in New Zealand you had to fill out a form declaring that you were buying it for serious literary purposes and not just because you like to read erotica!
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By A Customer on January 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book accompanied me since teenage. It has all kinds of erotic-sexual stories - It caters to all tastes but very short example of each.
It has SM, Gay ,Pedophilia, Orgies, and hundreds of ordinary sex descriptions, pregnant , lesbian homosexual boy-boy , girl-girl, man-boy , woman-girl and many more!
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Format: Paperback
Readers Beware: This is NOT John Steinbeck's novel :) !

THE PEARL wasn't originally a book, but rather an underground men's magazine, the publication of which spanned the 18 months from July 1879 to December 1880, when it ceased publication. Considered the height of scandalous in its day, THE PEARL strikes the modern reader of erotica, densensitized by a deluge of visual images on the Net and by the open publication of "Forum"-type writings, as rather quaint in its restraint.

Still, THE PEARL is undeniably erotic, and must have had the upper-crust ladies (and a few of the men) of Victorian England blushing mightily and breathing hard as it was read by them or to them by their lovers and/or spouses.

What strikes the modern reader is the quality and the precision of the writing, which is topnotch, graphically imaginative, and designed to titillate. THE PEARL consists of a number of serialized novelettes (the aforementioned "Sub-Umbra" and the delightful tale retold in "Miss Coote's Confession" among them), random short stories, the obligatory letters from readers section, and ribald limericks and poems. If you need some new blue jokes, THE PEARL's a treasure-trove.

Much of this material has seen print in the "Ribald Classics" section of a modern major men's magazine and elsewhere over the decades. Both as an historical artifact and as an omnibus of classic adult entertainment, every serious adult reader should own a copy.
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Format: Paperback
As dirty books - or should I say "naughty books" - go, the Pearl has few equals. It's neither as pretentious as "My Secret Life", as twisted as "Justine" (De Sade, not Durrell) nor as overblown and plodding as "Fannie Hill." Regardless, this is not a book you take seriously. When my evil twin, Skippy, was a sophomore, cloistered in an all-boys prep school in the 1960's, one of his worldly classmates scored a copy of the Pearl in an "avant garde" book store in New York City, and smuggled it into school. Along with Robert Rimmer's "The Harrad Experiment" and Terry Southern's "Candy", he rented it out to his eager, reprobate adolescent peers for a dollar a week. Skippy read it cover to cover then, and again in college. It was better than comic books, he claimed - well, except maybe Fritz the Cat.

By today's "standards" (now *there's* an oxymoron), the erotica in the Pearl is pretty tame, almost innocent. However, most of it is carried off with a certain witty, genteel, Oscar Wilde-ian elegance to the whole enterprise that's sadly lacking in what passes for "erotic fiction" in the 21st century - stuff you wouldn't read with a haz-mat suit on. In the Pearl, you can see where Henry Miller and D. H. Lawrence might have taken some of their "cues" for the "juicier" parts of their more literary novels. Some of the stories are sexist. But that's the way people evidently thought, then. We had to wait another generation or two before Anais Nin and, later, Erica Jong could speak for a freer generation of women. So from a purely historical perspective, the Pearl is worth reading, if not owning. It's a more of a "mile post" in many readers' careers, something one passes and soon forgets after a certain young age.

The collections of limericks interspersed between the serialized "stories" are actually the most entertaining part of the book.
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