The Traffic in Obscenity from Byron to Beardsley  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
19th century literature, Venus in the Victorian era, Victorian literature, Venus in England

The Traffic in Obscenity from Byron to Beardsley (2006) is a study of obscene print culture in nineteenth-century Britain by Colette Colligan. She follows commercial, legal, and discursive formations in the period and argues that nineteenth-century obscenity was caught up in the global cultural traffic of print technology, international trade, and exoticism. With four main case studies she offers a juxtaposition of nineteenth-century authors, publications, imagery, and events, both mainstream and underground. The work builds on "The Other Victorians," and reveals that obscenity intersected majority and minority cultures.

Excerpt

"In order to follow the traffic in obscenity in nineteenth-century British print culture, it would be useful to present some basic information about its circulation in the period. While the careers of Byron, Burton, and Beardsley will be familiar to many, the clandestine print communities with which their careers intersected will be less so. Except for underground catalogues, the occasional memoir, and the publications themselves, there is no record keeping on the trade in obscenity: little, especially the street material, has survived the test of time, library policy, or public tolerance. However, crucial, albeit piecemeal, information about this metropolitan print culture is found in legislation, parliamentary debates, trial documents, newspaper law reports, investigative journalism, and Home Office papers – the documents that flowed from the exercise of jurisprudence. Mendes, McCalman, and Sigel have done the most sustained bibliographical and archival research in this field. McCalman shows how a well-defined trade in obscene publications grew out of the postwar political radicalism and republican dissidence of the 1820s. Mendes, meanwhile, explores how book clubs and private subscription lists were central to up-market publishers. This research has helped identify the major underground publishers, from George Cannon, John Duncombe, and William Dugdale in the first half of the century to William Lazenby, Henry Judge, Harry Sidney Nichols, Charles Hirsh, and Charles Carrington in the latter half, when the London business shifted to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and especially Paris, where publishers such as Hirsch, Nichols, and Carrington ran a mail-order postal trade for its wealthier British clientele. But, many of the judicial papers and newspaper reports, some of which I am examining for the first time, reveal a far less scripted print culture and offer insight into how obscenity began to be understood in relation to its trafficking, informing fantasies and fears of relentless circulation" The Traffic in Obscenity from Byron to Beardsley


Contents

  • PART I: THE TRAFFIC IN OBSCENITY
  • Introduction
  • An "Extensive Traffic": The Print Trade in Nineteenth-Century British Obscenity
  • PART II: HAREMS AND LONDON'S UNDERGROUND PRINT CULTURE
  • The Unruly Copies of Byron's Don Juan: Harems, Popular Print Culture, and The Age of Mechanical Reproduction
  • Harem Novels: The Lustful Turk to Moslem Erotism
  • PART III: SIR RICHARD BURTON, THE ARABIAN NIGHTS, AND ARAB SEX MANUALS
  • "Esoteric Pornography": Sir Richard Burton's Translation of the Arabian Nights
  • "A Race of Born Pederasts": Pederasty, The Perfumed Garden, and The Scented Garden
  • Collecting English Obscenity: Marriage-Love and Women amongst the Arabs and Old Man Young Again
  • PART IV: THE ENGLISH VICE AND TRANSATLANTIC SLAVERY
  • The Prurient Gaze: The Flogged Slave Woman among British Abolitionists
  • Slavery Obscenity in the 1880s: The Pearl and The Cremorne
  • Slavery Obscenity at the Turn-of-the-Century: Dolly Morton to White Women Slaves
  • Whipping in the Twentieth Century: The Fugitive Image
  • PART V: JAPANESE EROTIC PRINTS AND OBSCENITY OF THE FIN-DE-SIÈCLE
  • The Traffic in Japanese Erotic Prints
  • Aubrey Beardsley's Libidinal Line: Japonisme, Art Nouveau, and Obscenity
  • Japanese Prostitution: Amorous Adventures of a Japanese Gentleman to Yoshiwara: The Nightless City
  • Coda: The Obscenity of the Real

See also




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