Sunday, April 4, 2010

Private Collection of 18th Century Erotica Discovered!

(at right: a chapbook from 1814, typical of the eighteenth century chapbooks discussed in the article)

As you'll recall from The Gothic Tradition, Gothic literature was long considered an unhealthy and debased genre, very similar to erotica, which it sometimes dabbled in (especially in works like Lewis's The Monk).  Young women often hid their gothic fictions as men hid their erotica; now, apparently, a 300 year-old collection of erotic chapbooks (cheap publications once sold by "chap men") has been discovered in a library in the famous Lake District (once home to Wordsworth and Coleridge, among others).  Read the full story here:

1 comment:

  1. This is an interesting find, to say the least. The revelation that such things exist is not surprising, if one takes into account the mindset of the Romantics. Everything was a part of nature, and sex was not such a bad thing. Two particular lines of the article strike me as the most fascinating, and telling: “They often contained rather saucy and even rude tales, which were found to be very amusing by their 18th century readers.”

    One tale called 'The Crafty Chambermaid's Garland' details the story of a chambermaid tricking a young man into marrying her.

    This is keeping in tradition with what Chaucer and many like him accomplished with their stories. To break it down to an extremely crude level, The Canterbury Tales are essentially a collection of dick and fart jokes, so why should these chapbooks be all that surprising? The only thing that is cemented in my mind with this new find is that earlier, European generations were more comfortable with who they were, and what the body was, than many people today.