Prior to the prudery of the Victorian era that then smudged and suffocated and warped our present way of thinking about passion and pleasure, there was a world that frolicked in endless bawdy ways. Prior to the Victorians, views toward pleasure was held in a more lush and flavorful light. There was an edgier sense of freedom that even we ourselves lack today. Prior to the Victorians, what do you think people loved to read most about? Love and sex, people. Love and sex. Think of the modern historical romance being written by novelists back then, though set in their ‘contemporary’ world. These works included PAMELA (1740), and CLARISSA (1747) — to name a few. Heroines found themselves compromised by heroes and villains alike and anyone else who happened to be passing by, lol. People back then were fascinated by sex. When they weren’t *doing it*, they were *reading it*. And the 1700’s wasn’t really the starting point…it was actually a boiling point that peaked into the early 1800’s and was crushed by moralizers and quacks. Prior to the 1700’s itself, there were also various “sexologists” who published sex manuals for the public to purchase and learn from and have fun with. One of the most popular sexologists of his time was Nicolas Venette (1622-1698). His work ‘Tableau de l’amour considere dans l’estat du mariage’ which was published in Amsterdam in 1687. Only the guy didn’t put his name on it. Instead, he published it under the name of Salocini (yeah, blame it on those Italians). It was a huge success, being translated into German, English and Dutch and going into several print runs. It was published in English as THE MYSTERIES OF CONJUGAL LOVE REVEALED and the author was simply known as ‘The Gentleman.’ (Heh…yeah…right).
The popularity of the book, however, demonstrated that people REALLY wanted to know more about sex. Women and men alike were buying the book in droves. Although people started to gripe that the results weren’t quite what they expected…
Curious to know what was in his *sex manual*? But of course you are!
So here it is (brace yourself):
“Too long or too big members are neither proper for copulation so that for convenience a man’s part ought to be middle sized.” (So big is bad? You have to wonder if Nicolas was, you know, LACKING)
He goes on:
“Admitting it true what physiognomists say, viz. that men with big noses have also stout members (damn…this is still circulating even after hundreds of years!), as also that they are more robust and courageous than others; we have no reason to wonder at Heliogablus’s making choice of big nosed soldiers, that he might be able to undertake great expeditions with small numbers and oppose his enemy with great vigour. But at the same time, he did not take notice that well-hung men are the greatest blockheads and the most stupid of mankind (jealous much?)”
And he goes on:
“How many times one may amorously caress one’s wife in a night, Whence I am apt to believe that the efforts we are able to make near a woman in one night cannot amount to above four or five times (so there you have it…let your husbands know that 4-5 times a night is a respectable number Nicolas approves of).
And last but not least (because honestly, he’s beginning to annoy me):
“Whether the man feels more pleasure in enjoyment than the woman. There is no doubt that our privy parts are more sensible than those of woman, whereas the women’s parts are fleshy and less sensible (book burning anyone?). We also have a firmer mind, and stronger fancy than women. The filaments of our brain are more stretched and hard, and when we love, ’tis with greater force and spirit. Women to the contrary are of a more inconstant mind, and weaker fancy. The fibres of the brain are softer and more flexible, and though they appear to love more ardently, they do not feel as much as we do. (I’d like to bring this guy back from the dead and introduce him to the modern woman and see if he ever gets any ever again).”
There are pages and pages and PAGES that go on just like this. And this manual was supposed to *help* people. Snort. It was no wonder people started turning to fiction….ehm.