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Sexual Freedom in Restoration Literature


  • Date Published: July 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521069168

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About the Authors
  • The pursuit of sexual freedom and its political, philosophical and practical implications are the themes of this wide-ranging study of restoration literature, which confronts ideological issues of sexual politics equally relevant to modern debate. The author examines the writers of the later seventeenth century in their historical context, and focuses particularly on what happens when women desire sexual freedom as well as men. In a study of the writings, notorious for their sexual candour, of the Earl of Rochester, God-haunted atheist and licensed rebel of the Restoration court, and Aphra Behn, the most prominent and most controversial woman writer of the period, the author explores some of the tensions inherent in the ideology of individual liberty as applied to the conduct of sexual relations inside and outside marriage. The works by Rochester, Aphra Behn and their contemporaries gain much of their power from the ambivalence with which they treat the competing claims of freedom and authority, rebelliousness and security, the assertion of power and the need to love.

    • First book to confront themes of sexual freedom and ideology in Restoration poetry and drama
    • Detailed readings of two of the most prominent Restoration writers, Rochester and Aphra Behn
    • Contributes to the debate on the politics of sex and gender in literature, history and gender studies
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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521069168
    • length: 284 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: the imperfect enjoyment
    1. Hobbes and the libertines
    2. The tyranny of desire: sex and politics in Rochester
    3. Absent from thee
    4. Playing trick for trick: domestic rebellion and the female libertine
    5. My masculine part: Aphra Behn and the androgynous imagination

  • Author

    Warren Chernaik, Queen Mary University of London

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