1001 Reads

Regularly updated blog charting the most important novels of the last 2000 and something years

Thursday, January 08, 2009

32. John Cleland - Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Fanny Hill) (1748)


Fanny Hill is a breath of fresh air. It is not particularly fascinating as a novel, Moll Flanders is a much better book for example, however the depictions of sex acts are really what this novel is all about.

It is clearly a pornographic novel and it is at the more explicit moments that it really shines through as great writing. Another interesting point is the fact that the novel is seen from a woman's perspective, therefore Fanny's descriptions of male nudity invariably focusing on the throbbing member, are quite novel.

Fanny loves sex, she is not really a victim here, she seems to have a calling for prostitution, her endless fascination with the several fetishes of her costumers is a great example of this, however this is another thing that makes the novel so uncommon. The work revels in the pleasures of sex, unlike Richardson's it is not a fate worse than death, unlike Moll Flanders it isn't a means to an end, in Fanny Hill sex is its own reward as much as the money it pays.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:


"...and now, disengag’d from the shirt, I saw, with wonder and surprise, what? not the play-thing of a boy, not the weapon of a man, but a maypole of so enormous a standard, that had proportions been observ’d, it must have belong’d to a young giant. Its prodigious size made me shrink again; yet I could not, without pleasure, behold, and even ventur’d to feel, such a length, such a breadth of animated ivory! perfectly well turn’d and fashion’d, the proud stiffness of which distended its skin, whose smooth polish and velvet softness might vie with that of the most delicate of our sex, and whose exquisite whiteness was not a little set off by a sprout of black curling hair round the root, through the jetty sprigs of which the fair skin shew’d as in a fine evening you may have remark’d the clear light ether through the branchwork of distant trees over-topping the summit of a hill: then the broad and blueish-casted incarnate of the head, and blue serpentines of its veins, altogether compos’d the most striking assemblage of figure and colours in nature. In short, it stood an object of terror and delight.

"But what was yet more surprising, the owner of this natural curiosity, through the want of occasions in the strictness of his home-breeding, and the little time he had been in town not having afforded him one, was hitherto an absolute stranger, in practice at least, to the use of all that manhood he was so nobly stock’d with; and it now fell to my lot to stand his first trial of it, if I could resolve to run the risks of its disproportion to that tender part of me, which such an oversiz’d machine was very fit to lay in ruins."

BBC made a version of it:


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