Monday, October 17, 2011

27. Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure

Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (popularly known as Fanny Hill)
John Cleland

Believe me, I had a hard time finding an appropriate picture for this post.  My mother reads this blog, for goodness sake.

Sex, sex, and more sex.  That is what this novel is about.  Fanny Hill has lots of sex, she watches people have lots of sex, and sexual encounters are descibed in detail.  This, of course, makes for an incredibly dull novel.  After the first couple of times Cleland described sex, he really didn't have anywhere else to go, and so it became very repetitive.  Unless you are really immature or horny, this novel really won't interest you.

That being said, I do appreciate the stark constrast between a novel like this and a novel like Clarissa.  Sex is the worst thing that could ever happen to a woman according to Richardson and yet according to Cleland it is just plain fun!  I always appreciate influential novels.  I think, though, that books like Tom Jones (where sex is casually mentioned as an activity people do without having their lives revolving around it) probably did more for the progression of modernism rather than pure porn.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

In 1749, Cleland was arrested for "corrupting the King's subjects".

In a huge Supreme Court case, Memoirs vs. Massachusettes, the ban on the book was lifted.

The history of this book is really interesting so if you want to read more about it click here.

The female Tom Jones?  I don't think so!

Monday, October 10, 2011

26. Tom Jones

Tom Jones
Henry Fielding

This is one of those happy occasions when I get to review one of my favorite books.  Tom Jones is like nothing I have ever read before.  It combines the wit of books like Clarissa with the hilarity of novels like Don Quixote.

This book follows the shenanigans of an illegitmate rake, Tom Jones. many ladies, but then falls in love with Sophia Western.  Sophia is a very Pamela-like character. This makes her less interesting then say, Ms. Fitzpatrick, who is a liberated woman who runs away from her husband.  Fielding controls who you hate, love, or laugh at and I completely submitted myself to him.

This novel is extremely well-written.  I had to read out loud certain quotes to random people because the lines were so eloquent.  I am pretty sure no one cared, but it was worth it.  The most enjoyable parts of the novel came from Fielding's introductions to each new book.  He pretty much talked about whatever the hell he wanted to at that moment and I drank in every word.  Fielding challenged virtue (he just can't stop criticizing Richardson!), critics, plays, and other writers.  His very last preface almost made me cry.  He compared the reader and the author to two people that accompany each other in a carriage and though we will probably never see each other again, we enjoyed each other's company and will depart cheerfully.  Truly an amazing experience and you own it to yourself to read it.  I am going to be foisting this book on everyone I know.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

This novel was turned into a movie in 1963.  I don't know if I should rent it, or if I should just avoid the inevitable disapointment.

The topics that were included in this novel (protistution, class discrimination, illegitimacy, etc.) made critics pan the book for its "lowness".  Henry Fielding told the critics at the beginning to mind their own business so it is their own fault.

Trailer for the movie version: