» » Fanny Hill: Or, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Signet classics)

Download Fanny Hill: Or, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Signet classics) epub

by John Cleland

Presents the erotic, once-banned classic about the amorous escapades of the sexually uninhibited Fanny Hill
Download Fanny Hill: Or, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Signet classics) epub
ISBN: 0451524187
ISBN13: 978-0451524188
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Classics
Author: John Cleland
Language: English
Publisher: Signet Classics (August 12, 1986)
ePUB size: 1614 kb
FB2 size: 1205 kb
Rating: 4.1
Votes: 725
Other Formats: lrf lit azw doc

... At the same time, allow me to place you here an excuse I am conscious of owing you, for having, perhaps, too much affected the figurative style; though surely, it can pass nowhere more allowable than in a subject which is so properly the province of poetry, nay, is poetry itself, pregnant with every flower of imagination and loving metaphors, even were not the natural expressions, for respects of fashion and sound, necessarily forbidden.

Although rife with typos (were they ALL in the original edition?) and currently unavailable, this is a serviceable (fre)e-book of an 18th Century classic.

Fanny is the female Odysseus- she sees the ways of many men, and then sails home again.

Men, and monsters.. Let me quote an early passage at length:

Imagine to yourself, a man rather past threescore, short and ill-made, with a yellow cadaverous hue, great goggle eyes, that stared as if he was strangled; an out-mouth from two more properly tusks than teeth, livid lips, and breath like a Jake's: then he had a peculiar ghastliness in his grin, that made him perfectly frightful, if not dangerous to women with child; yet, made as he was thus in mock of man, he was so blind to his own staring deformities, as to think himself born to please, and that no woman could see him with impunity: in consequence of which idea, he had lavished great sums on such wretches as could gain upon themselves to pretend love to his person, whilst to those who had not art or patience to dissemble the horror it inspired, he behaved even brutally. Impotence, more than necessity, made him seek in variety, the provocative that was wanting to raise him to the pitch of enjoyment, which he too often saw himself baulked of, by the failure of his powers: and this always threw him into a fit of rage, which he wreaked, as far as he durst, on the innocent objects of his fit of momentary desire.

Cleland wrote this as a 'pot-boiler' to get himself out of debtor's prison, but the language is clear and forceful, not elegant but also never coarse. I could easily quote a 'warm' scene or two, but instead listen to this:

As soon as he had disengaged, the charming Emily got up, and we crowded round her with congratulations and other officious little services; for it is to be noted, that though all modesty and reserve were banished from the transaction of these pleasures, good manners and politeness were inviolably observed: there was no gross ribaldry, no offensive or rude behaviour, or ungenerous reproaches to the girls for their compliance With the humours and desires of the men. On the contrary, nothing was wanting to soothe, encourage, and soften the sense of their condition to them. Men know not in general how much they destroy of their own pleasure, when they break through the respect and tenderness due to our sex, and even to those of it who live only by pleasing them.

Although not quite as fond of this book as when I first read it, I still rate it very high among books of its time, and among books of its kind.
Clearly, the forward use of metaphors and similes in such a skillful and unabashed manner distinguishes the book as a literary Great.

The eloquent skill aside, Cleland paints a torrid imagery on the canvas of 1740s London.
This is by no means to be taken as a factual or documentary account of an actual country girl's exploits in 18th century London. In addition, this is not one man's perverted erotic tale meant to amuse himself in prison. If you should read this book, word for word, you will understand a few things, aside from the exploitation of young women into sexual slavery, of course, that is the main tragedy of the book, but I think Cleland wants us to somehow look past that and into this bizarre world, whether his vision is accurate or not, and to see the persistence and optimism of a young woman who has lost every shred of control a human could hope for over her life. Not only that, but through this scenario, Cleland permits himself to explore the delights of the body, the mind, and the heart. It is believed that, since one of his early dear friends wrote a document about homosexual male sex, that perhaps he and Cleland had been lovers. The chain of conclusions then leads to the proposition that Cleland himself was homosexual and that he adopted the voice of a young woman to explore the delights of the male gender. However, I propose that aside from heterosexuality or homosexuality, Cleland constructs a world in which the reader, if willing, is prompted to open up to ideas of the beautiful variations of the shape of the human body, its secret rewards, surprises, and pleasures. Cleland, if anything, is pansexual, as is Fanny Hill. Notably, the book's single homosexual scene, witnessed by Fanny, via the ever-present spy hole in the wall at the brothel, leaves her incensed! She runs away in revulsion, which, given her history, seems an unduly harsh reaction; her exclamation regarding the incident? "They had sex without a woman! There was no woman involved!" At the end of the day, Fanny Hill is a story of humanity, sexuality, gender roles, gender rights, exploration and liberation.
This book is the very first pornographic novel ever written (not the first sexual literature, but the first NOVEL to be deemed pornographic). So, if you are as obsessed with novels (classic novels) as I am, then this will make a great addition to your collection. Plus, if you have a kindle, you can just get this book from Amazon for FREE! You can't beat free. The story itself is comical, graphic, and kind of a snooze fest. The sexual descriptions are very drawn out and wordy with lots of flowery language and interesting euphemisms and metaphors. I did not feel at all "hot and bothered" while reading it, but I'm old and jaded, so I'm guessing my 13 year old self would have found this novel pretty steamy.
I mean: I'm glad I read it. The history and backstory are enough to make Fanny Hill a required read. It's fairly interesting and provocative. Hot might be a stretch, but only for some.
I ordered this book for my Kindle because somebody (of course) stole my paper copy years ago. I wanted to compare it with that sophomoric, abysmally written best-seller, those ridiculous Shades of Grey books. Mr. Cleland, "you done good." Your Fanny Hill is as funny, as vibrant (pun not intended, but I like it!), as raunchy yet decorous, and as instructive in the Arts of Pleasuring as ever. I love her and your book about her. Still.

I must add (esp. in view of the cover illustration) that, although Cleland is a man (and it shows in a lot of the scenes), it is MEN who are shown experiencing masochistic delights, not hapless (and very stupid) young women (cf. Grey Shades).