The Whore's Story: Women, Pornography, and the British by Bradford K. Mudge

By Bradford K. Mudge

This clean and persuasively argued booklet examines the origins of pornography in Britain and provides a entire evaluate of women's function within the evolution of obscene fiction. rigorously tracking the advanced interconnections among 3 comparable debates--that over the masquerade, that over the radical, and that over prostitution--Mudge contextualizes the transforming into literary have to separate stable fiction from undesirable and argues that that technique was once of the most important value to the emergence of a brand new, middle-class kingdom. taking a look heavily at sermons, clinical manuals, periodical essays, and political tracts in addition to poetry, novels, and literary feedback, The Whore's Story tracks the moving politics of delight in eighteenth-century Britain and charts the increase of contemporary, pornographic sensibilities.

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Additional info for The Whore's Story: Women, Pornography, and the British Novel, 1684-1830

Example text

His unique contribution, however, is his insistence that our society's confusion about pornography is part of a larger confusion about the plethora of images that surround us. That confusion, he insists, is one of the constitutive dilemmas of modern culture. V Walter Kendrick's work serves as a corrective to that of other commentators, feminist and nonfeminist alike, who seek a solution to the problem of pornography without considering the lessons of the past. When Anais Nin speculates about a new "language of the senses," when Lydia Lunch turns to pornography for artistic freedom, when Annie Sprinkle offers her cervix to a surprised audience, and when Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin imagine a world without objectification, they all look to the future from a less than perfect present.

What might be considered a self-aggrandizing denial of the possibility of women's erotic fiction before the twentieth century was no doubt an honest appraisal of a then invisible tradition. The secrets of Pandora's box are dangerous indeed, and literary history has not yet fully recognized the courage of those women writers who dared to peek inside. PART I <£fioy)ulav ^ultme an$ tke <&mei(jence ofi tke

Both are extremes, of course, but the difference is profound. The message of pornography, by its very existence, is that out sexual selves are real. Always, the censors are concerned with how men act and how women are portrayed. Women cannot make free sexual choices in that world; they are too opptessed to know that only oppression could lead them to sell sex. And I, watching, am either too oppressed to know the harm my watching has done to my sisters, or—or else I have become the Man. And it is the Man in me who watches and is aroused.

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