Infamous Commerce

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2006-06-08
  • Publisher: Cornell Univ Pr

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"In Infamous Commerce, Laura J. Rosenthal uses literature to explore the meaning of prostitution from the Restoration through the eighteenth century, showing how both reformers and libertines constructed the modern meaning of sex work during this period. From Grub Street s lurid "whore biographies" to the period's most acclaimed novels, the prostitute was depicted as facing a choice between poverty and some form of sex work. Prostitution, in Rosenthal's view, confronted the core controversies of eighteenth-century capitalism: luxury, desire, global trade, commodification, social mobility, gender identity, imperialism, self-ownership, alienation, and even the nature of work itself." "In the context of extensive research into printed accounts of both male and female prostitution - among them sermons, popular prostitute biographies, satire, pornography, brothel guides, reformist writing, and travel narratives - Rosenthal offers in-depth readings of Samuel Richardson's Clarissa and Pamela and the responses to the latter novel (including Eliza Haywood's Anti-Pamela), Bernard Mandeville's defenses of prostitution, Daniel Defoe's Roxana, Henry Fielding's Tom Jones, and travel journals about the voyages of Captain Cook to the South Seas. Throughout, Rosenthal considers representations of the prostitute's own sexuality (desire, revulsion, etc.) to be key parts of the changing meaning of "the oldest profession.""--BOOK JACKET.

Author Biography

Laura J. Rosenthal is Associate Professor of English at the University of Maryland.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1(16)
A ``Cool State of Indifference'': Mother Creswell's Academy
The ``Deluge of Depravity'': Bernard Mandeville and the Reform Societies
Whore, Turk, and Jew: Defoe's Roxana
Fanny's Sisters: The Prostitute Narrative
Clarissa among the Whores
Tom Jones and the ``New Vice''
Risky Business in the South Seas and Back
Conclusion: Usury of the Heart 199(14)
Notes 213(26)
Bibliography 239(26)
Index 265

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