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Fanny Hill by John Cleland

Fanny Hill (1748)

by John Cleland

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
be warned, this book, written in 1749, & having for at least 200 years been banned before it was ever allowed to be seen on these shores, is a classic example of 18th century erotica. it tells the story of Fanny, & young country girl, who loses her parents to an illness, probably smallpox, & ends up traveling with a young woman of better means to London, where is she is abandoned a second time, & falls in with a madam. She has a series of adventures, but never loses her heart to any other man but her beloved Charles, who was lost to her when his father sent him on an ocean voyage to recover a fortune. Because most of you will never read this or even want to read it due to the content, Fanny eventually makes her way in the world, becomes a respectable woman, & through sheer chance, finds her beloved Charles in a driving rainstorm at at inn where he is stopping on his way to London by horse, & she to the country to visit a friend by coach. Of course, they eventually wed, & she writes her memoirs from the vantage point of a much loved wife & mother who recalls her past history.

A lot of it is a little "detailed", LOL, & may make some readers uncomfortable, but it really is kind of cute in a way. I got a laugh out of it, it's much more entertaining than modern erotica, that's for sure.

At the last, it really is a love story, & the ending left me happy. ( )
  Lisa.Johnson.James | Apr 11, 2014 |
Despite its age and obvious differences in style from modern works, I found this book quite interesting beyond the never ending descriptions of the main character's sexual encounters. True, the author relies heavily upon (to the modern reader) long winded descriptions of sex in much detail. Beyond that, however, there were some interesting insights into the male perspectives. In particular, I was fascinated by the sections describing how wealthy, intelligent men can be "duped" into believing just about anything from a woman they desire. Apparently things have not changed much over the centuries. ( )
  la2bkk | Jan 10, 2014 |
I read about Fanny Hill many years ago, and was always curious about the book. Somehow, I never did manage to get my hand on a copy until one evening, when I had to wait for my daughter, and my IPad froze. I toodled off to a book store, and found this book.

Now, the book is about the sexual life of the young lady, Fanny Hill, and how she stumbled, from a life of poverty into prostitution. She was taken advantage off, when she was orphaned in her teens, and thus the story begins.

The book is replete with sexual themes, and is a continuous romp through the dales of sexuality. In this sense, I can quite understand how this would have completely shocked the sense of public morality in more conservative times. Having said that, the writing is elegant and not at all obscene.

About twenty years ago, I would have been greatly charmed through the length of the book. As it so happens, at my current stage in life, I wearied of the book about three quarters down the length, and just wished that they would get on with it! ( )
  RajivC | Dec 28, 2013 |
When it comes to books, sex isn't everything - it's 'story' that matters. Apart from the sex scenes there was little else to engage the reader - or this one, at least.

Like most texts from the 1700s - this being published in 1749 - there are too many long-winded sentences held together by unearthly punctuation. Commas are, indeed, in abundance; semi-colons keep sentences alive way beyond their sell-by date; as for colons: sometimes there are three per epic sentence.

I feel this novel would've worked better if there had been a stronger storyline, thus giving the sex scenes more prominence. Fewer sex scenes would, I believe, have enhanced the story. With so many erotic encounters the reader comes to expect them rather than look forward to them. Less is more, you might say.

I also believe this would've been a better novel had it been given regular chapters and included a decent amount of dialogue. Having two long chapters, featuring paragraphs that stretch on for miles, with hardly any dialogue, made this hard work for me. So much so that by the second half of the book I was skipping more and more sections.

What I do admire is the author's ability to describe sexual acts in fine detail without using a single profanity. Many writers from, say, the 1920s onwards would have had difficulty in this department. ( )
  PhilSyphe | Nov 13, 2013 |
Wife's away on an overnight business trip in Florida, so I felt it was appropriate to engage in that time-honored activity for husbands left to their own devices: porn.

Update: halfway through, it's okay so far. It's not exactly hot, but it's not unacceptably un-hot, either. It can be fairly entertaining, at least; I highlighted the euphemism "red-headed champion," which is legitimately funny. It's hotter than Moll Flanders, anyway, to which it's clearly somewhat of a response - although that's not saying much, as Moll Flanders was emphatically unsexy.

I'm having more fun reading it than I have many other 18-century novels, but now that I think about it, that's mostly because it's very short; faced with 600 pages of this, and given that I've already seen the word "vermilion" at least 600 times, I would probably give up.

The fact that this is a book written by a grown man from the perspective of a 15-year-old girl sometimes intrudes with ickiness, but I'm trying to get past it. Guys have written porn from the points of view of the chicks they wish they were nailing since - well, since this, as far as I know - and one has to suspend one's definition of the age of consent when one reads anything from Pamela to Tolstoy. And Cleland was only in his 20s when he wrote this, which makes it (again, allowing also for the era) at least slightly less creepy than if he was 50. It still throws me out of the narrative (such as it is) occasionally - particularly when he falls into one of the tropes that dudes writing porn have submitted to since (see above): all women want to be chaste but find themselves transported by passion as soon as they see a penis, and all penises are huge. I have, startling as it might seem, talked to upwards of several women, and they've assured me that neither of the above things are even a tiny bit accurate for any man other than me.


Now having finished it...yeah, I liked it. It was a bit over-the-top at times, and I found myself skimming the sex scenes; if you've heard one euphemism for penis, you...well, you haven't heard them all. Once you finish this book, then you'll have heard them all.

I'll give you a (slightly spoiler-y) taste. See if you think you can handle the following two things:

1) A scene where a woman seduces a mentally handicapped man for no other reason than "She had had her freak out" (yes, he really wrote that, 250 years before Missy Elliott);

2) This thoroughly typical passage: "Presently the approach of the tender agony discover'd itself by its usual signals, that were quickly follow'd by my dear love's emanation of himself that spun out, and shot, feelingly indeed! up the ravish'd in-draught; where the sweetly soothing balmy titillation opened all the juices of joy on my side, which extatically in flow, help'd to allay the prurient glow, and drown'd our pleasure for a while. Soon, however, to be on float again!"

If the first didn't horrify you too much, and the second didn't put you in a coma, you're good to go.

There's a half-hearted sermon that closes the book; it reads, in part, "If I have painted Vice in all its gayest colours...it has been solely in order to make the worthier, the more solemn sacrifice of it, to Virtue." I don't think we're supposed to take that seriously. For what it's worth, this is a peculiarly feminist book. (Peculiarly, I said.) In sharp contrast to [b:Moll Flanders|38262|Moll Flanders|Daniel Defoe|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1338130955s/38262.jpg|3214982] and [b:Pamela,|417549|Pamela Or, Virtue Rewarded|Samuel Richardson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1174571531s/417549.jpg|2214950] Fanny Hill presents a picture of a woman who enjoys sex and goes about getting it with no shame whatsoever. There are no nasty repercussions; things turn out quite well for her. Jane Smiley [b:claims|32098|Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel|Jane Smiley|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320407370s/32098.jpg|801321] that shame was an obsession in the salacious 18th century; well, then, this book stands, possibly alone, above it. Good for Fanny Hill. ( )
1 vote AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (64 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Clelandprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kliphuis, J.F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Plumb, J.H.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quennell, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wagner, PeterEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I sit down to give you an undeniable proof of my considering your desires as indispensable orders.
I felt the prodigious keen edge, with which love, presiding over this act, points the pleasure: love!  that may be styled the Attic salt of enjoyment; and indeed, without it, the joy, great as it is, is still a vulgar one, whether in a king or a beggar; for it is, undoubtedly, love alone that refines, ennobles, and exalts it.
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I could have scream'd out; but, as I was unwilling to alarm the house, I held in my breath, and cramm'd my petticoat, which was turn'd up over my face, into my mouth, and bit it through in the agony. At length, the tender texture of that tract giving way to such fierce tearing and rending, he pierc'd something further into me; and now, outrageous and no longer his own master, but borne headlong away by the fury and over-mettle of that member, now exerting itself with a kind of native rage, he breaks in, carries all before him, and one violent merciless lunge sent it, imbrew'd, and reeking with virgin blood, up to the very hilt in me ...

Then! then all my resolution deserted m; i scream'd out, and fainted away with the sharpness of the pain; and , as he told me afterwards, on his drawing out, when emission was over with him, my thighs were instantly all in a stream of blood that flow'd from the wounded torn passage.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140432493, Paperback)

Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, commonly known as Fanny Hill, has been shrouded in mystery and controversy since John Cleland completed it in 1749. The Bishop of London called the work 'an open insult upon Religion and good manners' and James Boswell referred to it as 'a most licentious and inflaming book'.

The story of a prostitute's rise to respectability, it has been recognized more recently as a unique combination of parody, sensual entertainment and a philosophical concept of sexuality borrowed from French libertine novels. Modern readers will appreciate it not only as an important contribution to revolutionary thought in the Age of Enlightenment, but also as a thoroughly entertaining and important work of erotic fiction, deserving of a place in the history of the English novel beside Richardson, Fielding and Smollett.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:46 -0400)

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Fanny Hill, also known as Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, has been a notorious novel since it first appeared in London in 1748-9. Banned for its obscene content, this fictional account of a young woman's unconventional route to middle-class respectability is, in fact, a lively and engaging comic romp through the boudoirs and brothels of Augustan England, with a heroine whose adventures and setbacks never lessen her humanity or her determination to find real love and happiness. Fanny's story offers modern readers sensuality and substance, as well as an unusually frank depiction of love and sex in the eighteenth century.… (more)

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