A scholarly romp that furthers debate on just whose interests are served by suppressing or canonizing sexual representation....




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)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-19-513505-9

Page Count: 268

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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