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Lascivious Bodies: A Sexual History of the Eighteenth Century Paperback – 18 Aug 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; New edition edition (18 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843541572
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843541578
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 206,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By V. A. Crouch on 17 Oct 2007
Format: Paperback
As someone with a serious interest in all things 18th-century, this proved a wonderful addition to my collection. However, whether you read this for historical/social reasons or just pure pleasure, this book is an enjoyable, face-paced read. Written in a style very easy to read and relate to, the situations are re-created in detail, with just enough light-heartedness.

Fascinating and scintillating, you will be shocked and amused by just what our ancestors got up to, with everything from sex clubs to homosexual erotica (un)covered.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lulubeth on 16 Dec 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this to help broaden an idea of the 18th century mindset, fully aware it would be more about the rich than the poor, about London rater than anywhere else. My expectations were not unreasonable. The tenor of the book, however, is still more reminiscent of the 60s magazine Titbits than anything useful for research. Fraught with a jokey style that brings to mind the verb "titillate", the author's failure to lock the explosion of prostitution and sexual prurience of the 18th century to wider history leaves the content stranded as merely "naughty" - a series of salacious postcards - without any more sober or interesting purpose. Should have guessed from the Edwina Currie endorsement, I suppose, but hope springs eternal. Afraid I found it dull and trivial - and highly unlikely to shed light on "our attitudes to sex today" as promised in the blurb.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 4 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a must-own for anyone interested in things you aren't meant to know about the eighteenth century. Humourous, informative, a great source for essays, and beautifully written. I started by taking this book out of the library for work, but I soon decided to buy it (which I hardly ever do), and it's been an invaluable resource for me. It makes history interesting!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Sexual Romp Through Eighteenth Century Britain 2 Sep 2005
By R. Hardy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
We enjoy being judgmental about the sexuality of other people, criticizing what consenting adults do with each other and knowing that we ourselves are performing sexually the right way with nothing to condemn. Often we spice sexual prejudices with the additional understanding that things are getting worse and the behavior of others is getting more extreme. This is often a form of nostalgia for some sort of "good old days" when people stayed virgins until they were married and then stuck to their marriage vows afterwards. Such days are not now, and they never were. New evidence of this is in _Lascivious Bodies: A Sexual History of the Eighteenth Century_ (Atlantic Books) by Julie Peakman, a saucy and entertaining romp through British sexuality in just another profligate age. Peakman is a fully qualified scholar who has done prodigious research, and while this is a fine historical reference book, it will also be a fine amusement for those who are interested in styles of sexual behavior or the unchanging peculiarities of their fellow humans. "Sex was pushed as the greatest diversion in town in eighteenth-century London," Peakman writes, "seeing it, doing it, or talking about it." Time and again in this volume one realizes that some things never change.

Of course, fashions change in sex, and some of the activities here seem quaint. Peakman discusses the accepted practice of husbands beating their wives, to be distinguished from erotic beatings, which underwent a vogue at the time, inspired by French pornography, which in turn was sparked by feelings against Catholicism and its flagellants. Birching was a frequent punishment in schools, and some men seem to have retained a nostalgic enthusiasm for it. Lt-Gen. Sir Eyre Coote in 1815 "was charged with indecent conduct after having been caught in a boys' school with his breeches down, asking the boys to birch him." He could have avoided the calumny by hiring a prostitute to administer such discipline. One Susan Brockway related that a client "offered her ten shillings if she would get a pennyworth of rods to whip him 'and make him a good boy.'" Patents were even considered for "flogging machines" which were not devices for delivering mechanical blows, but rather contraptions upon which a naked man could be strapped for the duration of his treatment. Peakman enjoys enormously writing about the sex societies of the time; there seems to be nothing like them in our own times, or perhaps contemporary ones have better secrecy. Sir Francis Dashwood set up his Hell-fire Club in an abandoned abbey that he restored, and he and his club members ("The Order of the Knights of St. Francis") enjoyed lampooning religion, especially Catholicism. They dressed as monks, and the women dressed as nuns, and they enjoyed eating, drinking and reveling together in licentious manner. The far stranger Beggar's Benison in Scotland had its merchant members masturbating together upon a silver platter or enjoying the performances of paid strippers.

There is wide-ranging activity between these covers. Peakman discusses male and female homosexuality, the dangerous hobby of asphyxiation for erotic purposes, sexually transmitted diseases and their treatments, cross dressers (including women pirates and soldiers), foot-fetishism, masturbation, erotic toys (for example, disguised as dolls), and much more. The famous and unknown revelers herein described had their fun, centuries ago, and the reader interested in such fun will find a great store of it in Peakman's delightful history.
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