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Friday, 25 March 2011

Ellen Bayuk Rosenman, Unauthorized Pleasures: accounts of Victorian erotic experience

I enjoyed reading this book, but I'm not sure how useful it is likely to be for my particular purposes. Also, it has that thing I am never quite sure about, where the book is more or less several articles fixed-up into a single volume with the indication that there is a common theme. But they remain separate articles. Sometimes I want things brought into a closer and more interwoven relationship, rather than a series of case studies.

However, I do give it massive plus points for its acute awareness of the oppressive anxieties that ideologies of 'patriarchy' and  'masculinity' placed on privileged Victorian males. I haven't yet read this other book which is sitting in my to be read pile, largely because at a first glance I was already picking up what that reviewer comments on
 Yet all the protagonists are male, with the women reduced to mere quickly potted biographies. The book leaves the "new eroticism" as a masculine invention.
that it appears to be about male libertine subcultures (which I very much doubt were really that rebellious and subversive). I probably should read it, but I'm not sure it's going to bring the critical analysis to the formations of Victorian masculinity that I might like, and which Rosenman does go some considerable way with.

I was also prepossessed by her response to Walter's My Secret Life that his unexamined class attitudes are rather more noxious than his sexual desires.

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