Read Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland Free Online
Book Title: Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure|
The author of the book: John Cleland
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Reader ratings: 7.1
Edition: Collector's Library
Date of issue: 2005
ISBN 13: 9781904919490
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 868 KB
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If you've heard one euphemism for penis, you...well, you haven't heard them all. Once you finish this book, then you'll have heard them all.
I had more fun reading this porn than I did many other 18-century novels, but that's largely because it's very short; faced with 600 pages of this, and given that I've already seen the word "vermilion" at least 600 times, I would probably give up.
And as porn goes, it's....okay I guess? It's not exactly hot, but it's not unacceptably un-hot, either, which is more than one can say for most of the internet. I found myself skimming the sex scenes. It can be fairly entertaining, at least; I highlighted the euphemism "red-headed champion," which is legitimately funny. It's hotter than Moll Flanders, to which it's clearly somewhat of a response - although that's not saying much, as Moll Flanders is emphatically unsexy.
The fact that this is a book written by a grown man from the perspective of a 15-year-old girl sometimes intrudes with ickiness, but one tries to get past it. Guys have written porn from the points of view of the ladies they wish they were nailing since - well, since this, as far as I know - and one has to suspend one's definition of the age of consent when one reads anything from Pamela to Tolstoy. And Cleland was only in his 20s when he wrote this, which makes it (again, allowing also for the era) at least slightly less creepy than if he was 50. It still throws me out of the narrative (such as it is) occasionally - particularly when he falls into one of the tropes that dudes writing porn have submitted to since (see above): all women want to be chaste but find themselves transported by passion as soon as they see a penis, and all penises are huge. I have, startling as it might seem, talked to upwards of several women, and they've assured me that neither of the above things are even a tiny bit accurate for any man other than me.
I'll give you a (slightly spoiler-y) taste. See if you think you can handle the following two things:
1) A scene where a woman seduces a mentally handicapped man for no other reason than "She had had her freak out" (yes, he really wrote that, 250 years before Missy Elliott);
2) This thoroughly typical passage: "Presently the approach of the tender agony discover'd itself by its usual signals, that were quickly follow'd by my dear love's emanation of himself that spun out, and shot, feelingly indeed! up the ravish'd in-draught; where the sweetly soothing balmy titillation opened all the juices of joy on my side, which extatically in flow, help'd to allay the prurient glow, and drown'd our pleasure for a while. Soon, however, to be on float again!"
If the first didn't horrify you too much, and the second didn't put you in a coma, you're good to go.
There's a half-hearted sermon that closes the book; it reads, in part, "If I have painted Vice in all its gayest colours...it has been solely in order to make the worthier, the more solemn sacrifice of it, to Virtue." I don't think we're supposed to take that seriously. For what it's worth, this is a peculiarly feminist book. (Peculiarly, I said.) In sharp contrast to most books of its time, Fanny Hill presents a picture of a woman who enjoys sex and goes about getting it with no shame whatsoever. There are no nasty repercussions; things turn out quite well for her. Jane Smiley claims that shame was an obsession in the salacious 18th century; well, then, this book stands, possibly alone, above it. Good for Fanny Hill.
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Read information about the authorJohn Cleland (1709 – 1789) was an English novelist, most famous - and infamous - as the author of the erotic novel Fanny Hill: or, the Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure.
He was born in Kingston upon Thames in Surrey but grew up in London, where his father was first an officer in the British Army and then a civil servant; he was also a friend to Alexander Pope, and Lucy Cleland was a friend or acquaintance of both Pope, Viscount Bolingbroke, Chesterfield, and Horace Walpole. The family possessed good finances and moved among the finest literary and artistic circles of London.
Cleland entered Westminster School in 1721, but he left or was expelled in 1723. His departure was not for financial reasons, but whatever misbehavior or allegation had led to his departure is unknown. Historian J. H. Plumb speculates that Cleland's puckish and quarrelsome nature was to blame, but, whatever caused Cleland to leave, he entered the British East India Company after leaving school. He began as a soldier and worked his way up into the civil service of the company and lived in Bombay from 1728 to 1740. He returned to London when recalled by his dying father. Upon William's death, the estate went to Lucy for administration. She, in turn, did not choose to support John.
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