Cover image for When flesh becomes word : an anthology of early eighteenth-century libertine literature
When flesh becomes word : an anthology of early eighteenth-century libertine literature
Mudge, Bradford Keyes.
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 2004.
Physical Description:
xxxiii, 332 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
British libertine literature before Fanny Hill (1749) -- 1: The school of Venus (1680) -- 2: The pleasure of a single life (1701), The fifteen comforts of Cuckoldom (1706), and the fifteen plagues of a maiden-head (1707) -- 3: Gonosologium Novum (1709) -- 4: Venus in the cloister (1725) -- 5: A dialogue between a married lady and a maid (1740) -- 6: A new description of merryland (1741) -- 7: The female husband (1746).
Reading Level:
1550 Lexile.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR1111.E74 W47 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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When Flesh Becomes Word collects nine different examples of British libertine literature that appeared before 1750. Three of these--The School of Venus (1680), Venus in the Cloister (1725), and A Dialogue Between a Married Lady and a Maid (1740)--are famous "whore dialogues," dramaticconversations between an older, experienced woman and a younger, inexperienced maid. Previously unavailable to the modern reader, these dialogues combine sex education, medical folklore, and erotic literature in a decidedly proto-pornographic form. This edition presents other important examples oflibertine literature, including bawdy poetry, a salacious medical treatise, an irreverent travelogue, and a criminal biography. The combination of both popular and influential texts presented in this edition provides an accessible introduction to the variety of material available toeighteenth-century readers before the publication of John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure in 1749.

Author Notes

Bradford K. Mudge is Professor of English at the University of Colorado at Denver

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

The publication of John Cleland's Fanny Hill in 1749 marked the emergence of what we term pornography. What might be called erotic and bawdy literature certainly stretches back to Ovid and Martial. But such work was a mixture of genres, making various claims. As the novel emerged as a "realistic" depiction of life, the pornographic novel developed as a "realistic" treatment of sex. To provide us with a fuller sense of the context for the development of the pornographic novel, Mudge (English, Univ. of Colorado) has compiled an anthology of "prepornographic" literature. This includes 17th-century translations of "Whore Dialogues," such as The School of Venus, erotic poems, and spurious medical treatises like Gonosologium Novum and Aristotle's Master-piece. There are also marriage manuals and obscene travelogs, such as A New Description of Merryland. The collection concludes with Henry Fielding's The Female Husband, a rogue biography. Given the rarity and yet the unacknowledged importance of these kinds of work, Mudge provides a significant service for understanding both the origins of the novel and the special character of pornography. Highly recommended.-T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Savannah (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. xiii
A Note on the Textsp. xv
Introduction: British Libertine Literature before Fanny Hill (1749)p. xxiii
Chapter 1 The School of Venus (1680)p. 1
Chapter 2 The Pleasures of a Single Life (1701), The Fifteen Comforts of Cuckoldom (1706), and The Fifteen Plagues of a Maiden-Head (1707)p. 59
Chapter 3 Gonosologium Novum (1709)p. 87
Chapter 4 Venus in the Cloister (1725)p. 143
Chapter 5 A Dialogue Between a Married Lady and a Maid (1740)p. 233
Chapter 6 A New Description of Merryland (1741)p. 257
Chapter 7 The Female Husband (1746)p. 287
Notesp. 305
Bibliographyp. 323
Indexp. 327