This essay offers a critical overview of recent and current debates on the cultural significance of erotic, obscene, and pornographic writing from the long eighteenth century. The period saw a new emphasis on interiority and the individual, a restructuring of sexual and gender categories, and an increasing division between public and private. Narratives of sexual education and danger were a vehicle through which authors and readers could engage with these broad cultural changes; they also contributed to a view of sexuality as the inmost truth of the self.
Lynette, the daughter of a Saxon nobleman, was weeks from marrying her childhood sweetheart, heir to a Saxon earldom when she finds out she is to be gifted to a newly minted Norman baron by their new conqueror King William. She becomes the unwilling bride to one of William's most ruthless henchmen, Lord Robert Malet, known as the Butcher of Rouen, who is 16 years her senior. When she meets him at their wedding ceremony, she recognizes him as the Norman captain who saved her from being defiled by a group of Norman soldiers and softens her heart to him.
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Young Lynette, daughter of Alfric is only 10 days away from her wedding to her distant cousin and childhood friend, Edgar, when she is summoned to London and forced to marry a Norman baron almost twice her age. Although she fears she is headed for a miserable loveless marriage, she soon finds the Norman Baron is the former Norman captain who saved her life a year earlier and he has no intention of settling for a loveless marriage. Successfully wooing her on their wedding night, Lord Robert Malet manages to entice his young bride into enjoying the pleasures of the marital bed and winning her heart before the night is over.
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The weather worked in their favor. Burlington was beautiful and, at last, showing some signs of spring. Finally, in Vermont, the grass is turning and the first buds are greening the trees.
In contrast with these nature-based definitions, this article argues for a conception of rhythm as subjectivity in language, thus as a discursive activity transforming linguistic patterns. These developments have appeared more characteristic of American poetry, as manifested in the writing of Williams, Moore, Cummings, Oppen, or, more recently, Susan Howe. What is at stake, it seems, in some British twentieth-century practices and conceptions of rhythm—and notably in the work of Seamus Heaney—is the relation between language and nature.
I SSUE Through the narrative interventions, Devereaux parodies the didactic novel form and engenders various the possible worlds of sexual desire that cross the boundary from the storyworld into the actual world. Through gender-specific narrative interventions, Devereaux creates a parody of the didacticism common to Victorian realist novels and allows his readers to construct at least three possible bridges between the text and the actual world.
A pretty little novice in her convent woke at dawn, And looking from her lattice she spied upon the lawn, A handsome shepherd quite intent On playing with his instrument, his instrument so long! She tarried not a moment, but swiftly rushed below, And with the handsome shepherd she learned her lesson so That soon she played most excellent Fantasies on his instrument, his instrument so long! Once more her fingers to work went, Which made him use his instrument, his instrument so long!