The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more
Trade in your item
Get a £1.45
Gift Card.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution Hardcover – 2 Feb 2012


See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Hardcover, 2 Feb 2012
£5.80

Trade In Promotion



Trade In this Item for up to £1.45
Trade in The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution for an Amazon Gift Card of up to £1.45, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (2 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846144922
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846144929
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.5 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 309,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Faramerz Dabhoiwala was born in Bristol in 1969. He grew up in Amsterdam, was educated at York and Oxford, and became a historian through a succession of happy accidents. He is now the Senior History Fellow of Exeter College, at the University of Oxford. 'The Origins of Sex' is his first book. More information can be found at his website, www.dabhoiwala.com.

Product Description

Review

In this significant historical debut, Faramerz Dabhoiwala presents his readers with a revelation: how early, and how suddenly, the permissive society arrived in Christian Western Europe.Over three centuries ago a revolution took place in Western attitudes to sex; it began in England, but all modern Westerners are its heirs, and now it is challenging and remoulding patterns of sexual behaviour throughout the world.The book is not simply a finely-crafted work of history, but a study that will reshape the way its readers understand the most intimate level of their lives.It may even bring some sanity to modern debates about sexuality. (Diarmaid Macculloch)

In this brilliantly argued, lucid and enthralling book, Faramerz Dabhoiwala describes the first sexual revolution - a sea change in attitudes towards sexual morality, the public and the private. The Origins of Sex shows how far men enjoyed, and women endured, the new sexual world. It is a majestic and provocative history of ideas and attitudes. (Amanda Vickery)

About the Author

Faramerz Dabhoiwala was born in England, grew up in Amsterdam, and was educated at York and Oxford. He is the Senior Fellow in History at Exeter College, Oxford, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and the father of two children. This is his first book.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Eleanor TOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 Feb 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In this his first book Faramerz Dabhoiwala argues that 'the origin of modern western attitudes to sex lies in the great intellectual and social revolutions of the eighteenth century'. By building up a detailed and well-evidenced picture of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Dabhoiwala shows how England moved from a culture where sexual behaviour was seen as public matter with public punishments, to one in which the boundaries of public and private and the limits of sexual freedom were much more ambiguous.

Dabhoiwala acknowledges that this transformation 'came about in a remarkably messy and inadvertent way, from the piecemeal and sometimes incoherent assimilation of old and new points of view'. This means that for every example, there is a counterexample and for every increase in sexual freedom, Dabhoiwala can also point to a decrease elsewhere. This, however, is true of a lot of things, and it is to Dabhoiwala's credit that he doesn't ignore the evidence for the sake of a clearer narrative. The book ends with a survey of post-1800 attitudes to sexual freedom which addresses why there was a return to a more repressive culture.

"The Origins of Sex" is a readable study, full of interesting episodes and characters, from rakes, libertines, and reformers to harlots, courtesans, fallen women, and virgins. As the chapters are organized thematically, I did sometimes feel that there was too much repetition and recapping of what had gone before, however this is a minor criticism. I finished with a much clearer picture of the eighteenth century and was surprised at how many attitudes that we take for granted were not prevalent before that time. The book is made more enjoyable by Dabhoiwala's humanity, his humour, and finally his well-chosen plates and illustrations.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By techpuppy TOP 50 REVIEWER on 12 Jun 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
You can't help being struck, after reading The Origins of Sex, by the extent to which it's a history of guilt and shame - or perhaps more correctly a history of the manipulation of guilt and shame, usually by religious organisations, to manage social behaviours. Difficult to deny it's also largely a history of misogyny and chauvinism too, since the tightest bonds are always on the female. Of course the other striking thing, and probably the best reason for the book, is the degree to which we all still live in the shadows of this guilt and shame in our contemporary lives.

Like any good history the book makes more visible the social edicts we take for granted revealing where they began and the reasoning behind them, if any ever existed. Having established where these social strictures came from the book then reveals how they were challenged and changed through the Enlightenment, it wasn't only in the 1960's that these things were upended. It's an academic book, for example there are 80 pages of references at the end, but its a very readable and approachable one too. It's never less than interesting and, although you might need more than a passing interest in the subject to stick with it, your commitment is well rewarded.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. J. Williams TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 Feb 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) -
Between the end of the "Chatterley" ban
And the Beatles' first LP.

In 'Annus Mirabilis' Philip Larkin points to the early sixties as a moment when sex, or rather attitudes towards it, changed. This book suggests that a more crucial and radical change occurred over 300 years before!

This is a very interesting and readable study of the social, religious and political attitudes towards sex in the period between 1600 and 1800, with a prologue and epilogue which contextualise the central focus in terms of the mediaeval world and attitudes in the 19th and 20th century. For those of us who lived through the 'swinging 60s', this book makes particularly fascinating reading and credibly argues that the earlier period was, in many ways, far more significant, not least in increasingly separating private sexual behaviour from the criminal law. This was largely due, the book argues, to the shock waves of the Reformation and the increasing diversity of protestant sects and perceptions of moral duties. The book demonstrates the hugely transformative process which Dabhoiwala argues had a significant effect on the lives of countless numbers of people and enduring cultural and social attitudes.

Unsurprisingly, the 'liberation' the changes produced were often still very much at the expense of female experience: the developing acceptance that the desire for sex was just an appetite like any other, and that gratifying it was undeserving of either damnation or punishment had far more impact on male experience than on women, who still suffered the deepest disapproval for infidelity, promiscuity or pre-marital sex.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Pots TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Feb 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When thinking of the sexual revolution in the subtitle, one might leap to the 1960s, but of course the story goes back a few hundred years before then, making it not so much a revolution as an evolution, albeit one which began with revolutionary ideas.
The book is a fascinating and thorough academic look at the development of western views of sex and sexuality. It begins in earnest in the 17th century, when new ideas about sex emerged, in particular ideas that sex was not a matter for the church or the state to rule over, that lust was an innate Human trait, and that sexual morality could not be imposed.

The book is literate, academic and serious, but it is certainly not dull. Given the subject matter and the vast number of historical events, court cases and social changes that it encompasses, it offers plenty on every page to enlighten and surprise the reader. It delves into stances taken by governments and courts, religious authorities, royalty, and society at large, through the centuries, and shows their consequences on the lives of everyone through those centuries.

What struck me most in reading this book is how much the events of the last five hundred years have shaped current society, the legal system, and moral thinking. For example, adultery (and mistresses), prostitution, polygamy and homosexuality have been variously reviled and accepted through the ages, and for many reasons. There is also the important matter of media coverage of such subjects, which has often been at the cutting edge of change, challenging moral opinions, society's rules, and the laws of states and churches.

I must say I take issue with the jacket blurb: "We publicize and celebrate sex; we discuss it endlessly; we are obsessed with the sex lives of celebrities.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews



Feedback