A reassertion of the female ingenuity that enabled market-minded English literary fiction and its unfettered alternate to flourish.
Providing context via today’s struggles over pornography (a term coined only circa 1864), Mudge (Sara Coleridge, 1989) evenhandedly pits Dworkin and MacKinnon’s ordinances against the bottom line of performance artists such as Lydia Lunch: “Reality is an X-rated trip.” With bite, he explicates the late-17th-century emergence of a cash-sex-fiction nexus—exploiting quack medical manuals, satires and sermons, and licentious verse—to unveil how Behn’s high-flown Love-Letters between a Nobleman and his Sister ripened by 1830 into “Spinster” Mary Wilson’s forthright Whore’s Catechism. While masquerade entertainments provided rich opportunities for baroque prostitutes, independent women who wrote about passion for money were castigated as soulless fiends depriving the state of maternal benefits, infecting the body politic, and preying upon weak-willed men. Legal eradication failing, Defoe’s shrewdly conceived Moll Flanders and Roxana affected last-minute rehabilitations. Richardson undertook to reform both novel and reader by celebrating Pamela, whose virtue—chastity—was richly rewarded on the marriage market (Fielding’s Shamela, on the other hand, laughed). During King George IV’s scabrous divorce trial, the prurient press took cunning Queen Caroline’s side and made a fortune. While government turned justice into entertainment, porn finished emancipating itself from literature: nowadays it is the more “artistic” pornography that is most likely to be brought to trial. Period prints (showcasing Rowlandson) quicken the argument, and excerpts sate curiosity about most of these backdated textual incendiaries. Only occasional jargon or excess recapitulations impede pleasure. One emerges with views enlarged: if the best things in life ought to be free, who foots the bill for censorship?
A scholarly romp that furthers debate on just whose interests are served by suppressing or canonizing sexual representation. (26 b&w figures)
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").