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!


  1. Taking ionto account that you are really passionate about following this list chronologically, did you maybe think about taking the 2008 or 2010 edition, as it has a much better selection of books than this one?

  2. I have heard that the updated version of the list is better but I just use the book I have. Are the 1700s a lot different?

  3. As far as I know you have three editions of this book (2006, 2008, 2010). The one which you are using is the 2006 edition. Unfortunately, it left out a lot of novels which many considered to be essential readings. Furthermore, it was too much focused on western authors, while certain authors were too widely presented (having too many books included by one author). Later edition (2008) corrected some of these mistakes (changed almost 300 books). While there is barely any difference between the 2008 version and 2010 one (some nine 21st century books I think).

    Pre-1700 has big differences between your and 2008 or 2010 version. 1700s is not that much different. However, later on there are a lot of differences and justly so.

    Btw, here is a list for 2010 version.

    Hope it helps. :)

  4. I have never read the book, but the YouTube "preview" of the movie cracked me up.

  5. Russ Meyer did a version of Fanny Hill??? Why am I not surprised.