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The other Victorians: a study of sexuality…
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The other Victorians: a study of sexuality and pornography in… (original 1966; udgave 1966)

af Steven Marcus

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279172,323 (3.61)4
Taking as his point of departure the authors, the audience, and the texts of Victorian writings on sex in general and of Victorian pornography in particular, Steven Marcus offers a startling and revolutionary perspective on the underside of Victorian culture. The subjects dealt with in The Other Victoriansare not only those to have been "shocking" in the Victorian period. The way these subjects were regarded--and the way our notions of the Victorians continue to change, as the efforts of contemporary scholarship restore them to their full historical dimensions--are matters today of some surprise and wonder. Making use, for the first time, of the extensive collection of Victoriana at the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research, Marcus first examines the writings of Dr. William Acton, who may be said to represent the "official views" of sexuality held by Victorian society, and of Henry Spencer Ashbee, the first and most important bibliographer-scholar of pornography. He then turns to the most significant work of its kind from the period, the eleven-volume anonymous autobiography My Secret Life. There follows an analysis of four pornographic Victorian novels--an analysis that throws an oblique but fascinating light on the classics of Victorian literature--and a review of the odd flood of Victorian publications devoted to flagellation. The book concludes with a chapter propounding a general theory of pornography as a sociological phenomenon. With the publication of The Other Victorians, understanding of this period took a giant stride forward. Most of the writers and writings discussed by Marcus belong to Victorian sub-literature rather than to literature proper; in this way the work remains connected to a consideration of the exotic sub-literature. A brilliantly written book in its own right, this work transformed the study of the Victorian period as did no other. y. He then turns to the most significant work of its kind from the period, the eleven-volume anonymous autobiography My Secret Life. There follows an analysis of four pornographic Victorian novels--an analysis that throws an oblique but fascinating light on the classics of Victorian literature--and a review of the odd flood of Victorian publications devoted to flagellation. The book concludes with a chapter propounding a general theory of pornography as a sociological phenomenon. With the publication of The Other Victorians, understanding of this period took a giant stride forward. Most of the writers and writings discussed by Marcus belong to Victorian sub-literature rather than to literature proper; in this way the work remains connected to a consideration of the exotic sub-literature. A brilliantly written book in its own right, this work transformed the study of the Victorian period as did no other.… (mere)
Medlem:astherest
Titel:The other Victorians: a study of sexuality and pornography in mid-nineteenth-century England
Forfattere:Steven Marcus
Info:London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1966 [i.e. 1967].
Samlinger:Check SUNYA, Check APL, Check NYSL, Skal læses
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Ingen

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The Other Victorians: A Study of Sexuality and Pornography in Mid-Nineteenth-Century England af Steven Marcus (1966)

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A highly readable stroll through a handful of themes in the field. Allowances have to be made for psychological attitudes which are now very dated.

This is a study of how people wrote about the subject in Victorian times. Marcus, who was an academic at the same university in America as Alfred Kinsey, set out to write about writings, not about people's behaviour (for that see The Worm in the Bud: The World of Victorian Sexuality (Sutton History Classics) and took a number of writers coming from different backgrounds and with different projects.

Thus, the first essay is on William Acton, an influential if totally obsessed doctor whose work had a huge influence on Victorian attitudes and caused, over the years, untold misery; readers will recognise a lot of familiar myths here. The second, by contrast, concentrates on a man who assembled a huge descriptive bibliography of banned books; equally obsessed, in a different way. Two chapters discuss the private - and very self-aware - diaries of a man whose whole project in life was the pursuing of women, and of experiences, and then writing about them. The next three chapters take a more general view of illicit writing in the period, and how it contrasts with the reality of the Victorian underworld. The important thing here is the balance between the medical and psychological writing, and the banned literature which was being created. The two share an obsession and the author is good on how this colours the spirit of the age.

This book is of interest of the general reader and to anyone studying the culture and literature of Victorian England; it is not a salacious read. At times the subject matter does leave a nasty taste in the mouth, but the author's handling throughout is restrained and academic.

For those with an academic interest, My Secret Life, Volumes I. to III. is now available in an entirely repspectable but partial reprint; something which would have been inconceivable when Marcus first wrote. A curious postscript; I recently found a Victorian copy of Acton's "Functions and disorders of the reproductive organs" in a charity bookshop. It was, sadly, priced too high for a frivolous buy. ( )
  AgedPeasant | Nov 22, 2020 |
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Taking as his point of departure the authors, the audience, and the texts of Victorian writings on sex in general and of Victorian pornography in particular, Steven Marcus offers a startling and revolutionary perspective on the underside of Victorian culture. The subjects dealt with in The Other Victoriansare not only those to have been "shocking" in the Victorian period. The way these subjects were regarded--and the way our notions of the Victorians continue to change, as the efforts of contemporary scholarship restore them to their full historical dimensions--are matters today of some surprise and wonder. Making use, for the first time, of the extensive collection of Victoriana at the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research, Marcus first examines the writings of Dr. William Acton, who may be said to represent the "official views" of sexuality held by Victorian society, and of Henry Spencer Ashbee, the first and most important bibliographer-scholar of pornography. He then turns to the most significant work of its kind from the period, the eleven-volume anonymous autobiography My Secret Life. There follows an analysis of four pornographic Victorian novels--an analysis that throws an oblique but fascinating light on the classics of Victorian literature--and a review of the odd flood of Victorian publications devoted to flagellation. The book concludes with a chapter propounding a general theory of pornography as a sociological phenomenon. With the publication of The Other Victorians, understanding of this period took a giant stride forward. Most of the writers and writings discussed by Marcus belong to Victorian sub-literature rather than to literature proper; in this way the work remains connected to a consideration of the exotic sub-literature. A brilliantly written book in its own right, this work transformed the study of the Victorian period as did no other. y. He then turns to the most significant work of its kind from the period, the eleven-volume anonymous autobiography My Secret Life. There follows an analysis of four pornographic Victorian novels--an analysis that throws an oblique but fascinating light on the classics of Victorian literature--and a review of the odd flood of Victorian publications devoted to flagellation. The book concludes with a chapter propounding a general theory of pornography as a sociological phenomenon. With the publication of The Other Victorians, understanding of this period took a giant stride forward. Most of the writers and writings discussed by Marcus belong to Victorian sub-literature rather than to literature proper; in this way the work remains connected to a consideration of the exotic sub-literature. A brilliantly written book in its own right, this work transformed the study of the Victorian period as did no other.

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