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Erotica and the Enlightenment


The essays in this collection focus on the relations between erotic, discourse and ideologies or «mentalités» in the Enlightenment. Although the contributors - literary historians, historians, and art historians - differ in approach and methodology, their common ground is the analysis of various genres of Enlightenment discourse on sex. There is a particular stress on popular writings (sex guides; obscene satire; graphic erotica), which have been neglected by literary historians, as well as on the iconographic discourse in works of art. Approaching eighteenth-century culture on such a broad basis, the essays try to retrieve parts of a «lost world», i.e. the complicated relations between the literary and popular discourse, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the ideologies and «mentalités» contained in or opposed to this discourse. The contributions thus shed light on important aspects of an age which determined the modern period.
Contents: Language and eroticism in Cleland's Fanny Hill - Venette's popular sex guide - Antiaristocratic and anticatholic erotica - The erotic art of Henry Fuseli - The mathematics of desire in 18th-century art and literature - The theatrical texts of the Marquis de Sade.