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Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Classics) [Paperback]

John Cleland
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 Aug 1985 Classics
Forced by the death of her parents to seek her fortune in London, Fanny Hill is duped into prostitution by an old procuress. In Mrs Brown's bawdy-house the naïve young woman begins her sexual initiation - progressing from innocence to curiosity and desire - and soon embarks on her own path in pursuit of pleasure, until she at last finds true love. John Cleland's story of Fanny's rise to respectability was denounced after its publication by the then Bishop of London as 'an open insult upon Religion and good manners', while James Boswell called it 'a most licentious and inflaming book'. But beside its highly entertaining and boisterous depictions of a startling variety of sexual acts, Fanny Hill stands as one of the great works of eighteenth-century fiction for its unique combination of parody, erotica and philosophy of sensuality.

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Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Classics) + Evelina: Or the History of A Young Lady's Entrance into the World (Oxford World's Classics) + Moll Flanders (Wordsworth Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (29 Aug 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140432493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140432497
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 398,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

John Cleland was born in 1710, eldest son of William Cleland, an officer and friend of the Pope. For a while hoe worked for the East India Company, rising from soldiers to businessman to secretary of the Bombay Council, though he returned to London in 1741. He then became a literary hack and journalist and was imprisoned for debt on several occasions, and on one such occasion used the time to write Fanny Hill. He died in Westminster in January 1789.

Peter Wagner is a lecturer at the Catholic University of Eichstatt in Bavaria. His books in English include a study of Puritanism in colonial New England, and a survey of erotica in the age of Enlightenment.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
I sit down to give you an undeniable proof of my considering your desires as indispensible orders: ungracious then as the task may be. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explicit, erotic and fun 30 Nov 2010
By H. Tee
Format:Kindle Edition
Frances `Fanny' Hill is an orphan country lass aged 15. She goes to London to seek her fortune and is soon introduced to a brothel. Her naivety and virginity is a premium value and after a lesbian introduction to intimacy meets some possible clients but ultimately gives in to her first true love, Charles a young man of 19. He is taken away against his will and Fanny must progress her career as a middle class courtesan (she is no street walking strumpet) meeting various fellow girls, masochistic men, well endowed guys, pretending to lose her virginity again, madames etc. She relates her bawdy story in the form of a letter to its conclusion when she is still only 19. This famous story was written in 1749 and Cleland was prosecuted for it. The BBC recently made this into a mini series.

The language is surprising readable given it is 250 years old - indeed I'd even say the olde style is actually the most entertaining aspect of the book. Cleland's turn of phrase is interesting, colourful and flowing. It is quite remarkable how completely explicit the text is using only innuendo; I gave up counting the number of substitute words for `penis' were used in the story. The sex is quite real, one would have no doubts about what our forebears got up to. There is even, much to my surprise, a detailed gay sex scene.

One must accept this is basically not intended to be a naturalism depiction of the real life of a prostitute (though I suppose it does refer to pregnancy and STIs) but rather a fun and diverting erotic story. It is ultimately a moral tale with a happy romantic ending, making it all the better - really fun and recommended.

The 12 illustrations in the kindle edition are apt and explicit (as can be seen on the cover) showing scenes throughout the book; though annoyingly they all occur at the end. Reading on the kindle obviously may offer the reader the reduction in potential (unjustified) teasing in being caught reading the book.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An erotic Anti-Pamela with much to offer 18 Jun 2001
Format:Paperback
Literature, as with the other arts, has often courted scandal, and scandal often prevents an objective, rational appreciation of a work until that scandal has become a part of history. Such is the case with 'Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure' ('Fanny Hill'). It is only after the late Twentieth Century relaxation of taboos that we have easy access at the unexpurgated text and can look beyond the purely sexual aspects of it and consider its place as an Eighteenth Century text, and its importance in the development of the novel. Peter Sabor's critical introductory essay contextualises the piece well, not playing up the eroticism and astutely drawing the reader to comparisons with Samuel Richardson's novel 'Pamela' (1740). One cannot ignore the eroticism of the novel, though, and it would be wrong to do so for therein lie many of its strengths. It is never explicit - although one could claim that in allowing the reader to infer more and to translate mataphor the text becomes more erotic, more of a turn-on. It is a turn-on, even through its archaic metaphors, but one can't help but admire its boldness, energy and creativity. One feels it to be a more worthwhile read than modern, trashy erotic fiction with its expletives and explicit phraseology. Not by any means the best novel of the Eighteenth Century, but one of the better 'anti-Pamelas', and a vital piece in our picture of the development of the novel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Draws an interesting picture 6 Jun 2011
By Smiler
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Interesting story of a young, naive women being compelled into the seedier side of life by lack of money and manipulative contacts. She embraces elements of this life for a while, sometimes seemingly enthusiastically, before becoming ultimately disillusioned and yearning for a more traditional set up. Descriptive racy scenes before the reader can titilate but are somewhat repetitive. Gives a reasonable feel of the time and its social mores. A quick read, that you can comfortably dip in and out of without losing the plot.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars pornography? 10 Jun 2010
By Didier TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I'll readily admit one of the reasons I was drawn to this book is its reputation as 'a dirty book' which to my mind it still has. I wouldn't hesitate to read for instance Moll Flanders in a crowded train, but found myself hesitant to do so with 'Fanny Hill', however prudish that may sound. However, read it I did, and it proved to be a very interesting experience though for entirely different reasons.

Is there then no sex in the book? On the contrary, there's lots of it. But if you want to be 'titillated' (as Cleland would say) think twice before you consider reading 'Fanny Hill'. First of all, I think you'll find that since 1749, when 'Fanny Hill' was first published, we have grown accustomed to a lot more, and that in a much more explicit style. Cleland may describe sexual acts but he does so 'without naming names', and in a way this book that once scandalized therefore now at times seems a bit ludicrous (as in 'that store-bag of nature's prime sweets that is so pleasingly attached to its conduit-pipe, from which we receive them;'). At the very least, I found myself admiring Cleland for his virtually endless store of synonyms, euphemisms and circumlocutions. But, given the fact that we (or I at least) are accustomed to a more explicit style, and taking into account that Cleland writes in often extremely long sentences, I found myself rarely 'titillated'.

This does not imply that I did not find myself interested, on the contrary. One of the interesting things about 'Fanny Hill' is that, in terms of philosophy and outlook on life, this is in fact a very middle-class, conservative book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read
Bawdy and fun set and wrote in another time but an enjoyable story of sexual adventure and the introduction to a very different life.
Published 5 months ago by DC Magpie
5.0 out of 5 stars Small but good
I expected the book to be larger than it actually is, it's only postcard size, 4"x6" but it has an old fashioned feel to the paper and print, so I suppose it's trying to... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Hal
3.0 out of 5 stars Fanny Hill
I remember this from my youth and thought that I would read all of it instead of just the naughty bits. To be honest, it wasn't all that interesting, a bit like 50 Shades of grey.
Published 12 months ago by Lizzibizz
3.0 out of 5 stars Happy
Lovely old book, in very good conditions, so nice we can still get hold of these items a great service
Published 19 months ago by Karen
5.0 out of 5 stars FAB_U_LOUS
I loved this book for years and am loving having it on my Kindle where it is always by my side!
Published 19 months ago by Eric The Editor
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Masterpiece
The book is not simple pornography as many other 19th century books (e.g. books by "A PUKKA SWIVER") but has its own place in classic English literature. Read more
Published on 24 May 2012 by Brian Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just a book about sex
This novel isn't just about sex. Okay, so there's a LOT of sex. I was a bit taken aback as I'd assumed due to the time it was written that it would be more suggestive and modest,... Read more
Published on 6 Jan 2012 by LadyDamned
3.0 out of 5 stars A pretty raunchy book sold here as classic fiction
Medium-soft porn set in 18th Century England. If you want to be turned on sexually then better stuff is available on the internet. Read more
Published on 28 July 2010 by Brownbear101
4.0 out of 5 stars The book was banned but as all classics it survived and it is still...
Due to the 18th century era which this book was written in, I wasn't expecting it to be so graphic. I must disagree with all the comments about how this book has no plot. Read more
Published on 11 July 2010 by Rebecca
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely collectors book
Just like all other collectors library book, gorgeous, except this one cheaper than you can buy in Waterstones!!
Quick delivery. Excellent service
Published on 28 April 2010 by Philippa Kimball-Smith
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