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Libertines and Radicals in Early Modern London


  • 10 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 368 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.516 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521032919)

A 'Deluge of Libertinism' swept through England in the turbulent seventeenth century: class and gender relations went into deep crisis, and sexually explicit literature took the blame. Bridging periods often kept apart, Libertines and Radicals analyses English sexual culture between the Civil Wars and the death of Charles II in great detail. James Grantham Turner examines a broad range of Civil War and Restoration texts, from sex-crime records to Milton's epics and Rochester's 'mannerly obscene' lyrics. Turner places special emphasis on women's writing and on pornographic texts like The Wandering Whore and The Parliament of Women, flavoured with cockney humour or 'Puritan' indignation. Throughout, Turner reads satirical texts, whether political or pornographic, as an attempt to neutralize women's efforts to establish their own institutions and their own voice. This exhaustive study will be of interest to cultural historians as well as literary scholars.

• Analyses a broad range of texts • This book offers an alternative understanding of obscenity and pornography • Explores the connection between sex, violence, and political anxiety in early modern culture


List of illustrations; Preface; List of abbreviations and frequently cited works; 1. Pornographia and the markings of prostitution: an introduction; 2. Ceremonies of abjection: sex, politics and the disorderly subculture; 3. 'The posture of a free state': political pornography and the 'commonwealth of women', 1640–1660; 4. The wandering whore's return: the carnivalization of sexuality in the early Restoration; 5. Monstrous assemblies: bawdy-house riots, 'libertine libels' and the royal mistress; 6. 'Making yourself a beast': upper-class riot and inversionary wit in the age of Rochester; Epilogue: 'In Bathsheba's Embraces old': pornographia rediviva at the close of Charles II's reign; Notes; Index.

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