Most helpful critical review
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An erotic Anti-Pamela with much to offer
on 18 June 2001
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.