Book Notes


Memoirs of a Woman of PleasureFanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland

Introduction by Peter Sabor
-001- An attempted prosecution against this work, published in a single volume in March 1750, was unsuccessful, despite the efforts of the Bishop of London, Thomas Sherlock, who blamed it for the two London earthquakes of February and March 1750…
-002- Beggar’s Benison Society, a Scottish phallic worshipping club founded in 1732… [more info]
-003- John Hollander contrasted the ‘clarity, ingenuity and apparent spontaneity of Fanny’s language’ with the ‘gloomy and misleading rhetoric of “darknesses” of Women in Love’, and in a courtroom appearance spoke of Fanny as ‘a great female character in English literature’ lying ‘halfway between Defoe’s Moll Flanders…and James Joyce’s Molly Bloom’.

Novel Proper
-004- Charles had just slipp’d the bolt of the door, and running, caught me in his arms, and lifting me from the ground, with his lips glew’d to mine, bore me trembling, panting, dying with soft fears, and tender wishes, to the bed; where his impatience would not suffer him to undress me more than just unpinning my handkerchief, and gown, and unlacing my stays.
-005- We may say what we please, but those we can be the easiest and freest with, are ever those we like, not to say love the best.
-006- Then the turtle-billing kisses, and the poignant painless love-bites, which they both exchang’d in a rage of delight, all conspiring towards the melting point; it soon came on, when Louisa, in the ravings of her pleasure-frensy, impotent of all restraint, cry’d out: ‘Oh Sir!–Good Sir!–pray do not spare me! ah! ah–I can no more.’ And all her accents now faltering into heart-fetch’d sighs, she clos’d her eyes in the sweet death, in the instant of which she was deliciously embalm’d by an injection, of which we could easily see the signs, in the quiet, dying, languid posture of her late so furious driver, who was stopp’d of a sudden, breathing short, panting; and for that time, giving up the spirit of pleasure.
-007- …ignorance of a vice, is by no means a guard against it.
-008- Our caresses, our questions, our answers, for some time, observ’d no order: all crossing, or interrupting one another in sweet confusion, whilst we exchang’d hearts at our eyes, and renew’d the ratifications of a love unabated by time or absence: not a breath, not a motion, not a geture on either side, but what was strongly impressed with it. Our hands lock’d in each other, repeated the most passionate squeezes, so that their fiery thrill went to the heart again.

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