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LIBERTINE LITERATURE

  • The Library has a some significant pieces of early English libertine literature both in manuscript and as printed books.  Among books, the Library has several early English including the Earl of Rochester's Poems (London, 1680), Pretty Little Games illustrated by Rowlandson [(GA) Rowlandson 1845], and Rowlandson's Fünfzig Erotische Grotesken... (Wien, 1907) [(GA) Rowlandson 1907.2f] as well as other books. Note also Edward Howard's Poems (London, 1674) in the Robert H. Taylor Collection.

    See: David Foxon. Libertine Literature in England 1660-1745. (New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1965) [(F) HQ462.F6].

    Also of  note  isVenus Miscellany (New York?, 1851) [(Ex) HQ12 .V57] which is said by the historian William Gilmore to be the first American pornographic newspaper.

    In the summer of 1993, the Library purchased a collection of 45 printed and manuscript early erotica from Bennett Gilbert, a antiquarian bookseller in Los Angeles. The collection includes the following of note: editions of two of the most important erotic works of the French eighteenth century (Nogaret and Montigny), both with illustrations, first editions of other influential and widely distributed works (Dulaurens, Parny, and La Lyre galliarde), very rare bibliophile reprints of earlier erotica (Birague), many fugitive publications of pornographic and satirical stories, poems, dialogues and narratives, a rare documentary work on prostitution, plus several unusual illustrated rarities, such as Visioni in sogno a Mess. Gio. Boccaccio. [Florence, 1780]. While most of the collection is French, several Italian books are of importance such as Meusnier de Querlon's La cortigiana di Smirne ... tradotto dal greco di Mnaseas (Londra: Appresso Thonson, 1769) which is recorded to have been suppressed in Venice. The manuscripts in the collection include a collection of unpublished pornography on the theme of the infertility of the union of two grand Roman families, bound together with a broadside epithalamion. For the dealer's listing see the Collections File under the heading Erotica.

  • Of note is Princeton manuscript AM 14401. This 17th-century commonplace book "contains versions of the two earliest substantial pieces of pornographic writing in English, the verse play Sodom and a prose translation of part of the Satyra Sotadica of Nicholas Chorier." (p. 359 in A.S.G. Edwards, "Libertine Literature in Restoration England. Princeton MS AM 14401." in The Book Collector Vol. 25, No. 3 [Autumn, 1976].) 

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