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Related: 1700s

Births: Jacques Fabian Gautier d'Agoty - Horace Walpole - Jacques Cazotte

1710: Masturbation Condemned in Onania

Onania, an anti-masturbation tract, was published in London by a man who claimed to be a Doctor, and reprints quickly spread its message to the American Colonies. The anonymous author warned that onanism, as masturbation was then called, threatened men's moral and physical health. Ostensibly intended to prevent the imagined ills resulting from "self-pollution," the booklet also served to advertise quack medicines its author endorsed.

Citing Biblical injunctions against sexual sin, Onania is written in a high moral tone and even equates masturbation with sodomy, the most heinous sexual sin its author could imagine. Later medical writers like Tissot in France and Acton in England would forego Onania's religious tone, but repeated its hysterical warnings that masturbation can have deadly consequences. --(c) 1998, Andrew Wikholm http://www.gayhistory.com/rev2/factfiles/ff1710.htm [Sept 2004]

Traité des trois imposteurs (1719) - Anonymous

Image sourced here.

Author unknown. The Traité des trois imposteurs is one of the most famous French clandestine manuscripts. First edited in 1719 under the title L'Esprit de Spinosa. This is a late edition (1768).

However important it may be for all men to know the Truth, very few, nevertheless, are acquainted with it, because the majority are incapable of searching it themselves, or perhaps, do not wish the trouble. Thus we must not be astonished if the world is filled with vain and ridiculous opinions, and nothing is more capable of making them current than ignorance, which is the sole source of the false ideas that exist regarding the Divinity, the soul, and the spirit, and all the errors depending thereon.

The custom of being satisfied with born prejudice has prevailed, and by following this custom, mankind agrees in all things with persons interested in supporting stubbornly the opinions thus received, and who would speak otherwise did they not fear to destroy themselves. --http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/unknown/three_impostors.html [Sept 2005]

French clandestine manuscripts are one of the most interesting phenomena of early Enlightenment. A great number of texts have been discovered and studied since Gustave Lanson's (1912) and Ira O. Wade's (1938) pioneer studies. The most famous and widely spread manuscripts are the Traité des trois imposteurs, the Mémoire by Jean Meslier, Du Marsais' Examen de la religion and Fréret's Lettre de Thrasybule à Leucippe. The philosophical inspiration of these treatises is not always the same. They only share an anti-christian attitude, leading sometimes either to a deist (Examen de la religion) or to an atheist position (Meslier's Mémoire, Fréret's Lettre de Thrasybule à Leucippe). Some critical editions of these texts are already available, and a collection entirely devoted to clandestine philosophical texts is directed by Antony McKenna at the Voltaire Foundation in Oxford. We offer here a limited but representative selection of texts, hoping to increase for the future the extent and quality of our electronic corpus. --http://www.vc.unipmn.it/~mori/e-texts/ [Sept 2005]

See also: clandestine - 1700s - Spinoza - materialism

Robinson Crusoe (1719) - Daniel Defoe

Robinson Crusoe (1719) - Daniel Defoe
Image sourced here.

Robinson Crusoe is a novel by Daniel Defoe, first published in 1719 and sometimes regarded as the first novel in English. The book is a fictional autobiography of Crusoe, the eponymous hero, a castaway on a remote island. Its full title is The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner: who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pirates. Written by Himself. This device, presenting an account of supposedly factual events, is known as a "false document", and gives a realistic frame to the fiction. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robinson_Crusoe [Sept 2005]

Defoe's Robinson Crusoe was everything but a novel, as the term was understood at the time. It was neither short, nor did it focus on an intrigue, nor was it told for the sake of a clear cut point. Neither was Crusoe an anti-hero of a satirical romance, though he spoke the first person singular and had stumbled into all kinds of miseries. He did not really invite laughter (though readers of taste would read, of course, all his proclamations about being a real man as made in good humour). The feigned author was serious: Against his will his life had brought him into this series of most romantic adventures. He had fallen into the hands of pirates and survived years on an uninhabited island. He had survived all this—a mere sailor from York—with exemplary heroism. If readers read his work as a romance, full of sheer invention, he could not blame them. He and his publisher knew that all he had to tell was strictly unbelievable, and yet they would claim it was true (and if not, still readable as good allegory)—the complex game which puts this work into the fourth column of the pattern above. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novel#The_Second_Rise_of_the_Novel_or_the_New_Romance.2C_1700-1800 [Sept 2005]

The publication of Robinson Crusoe did not lead into the mid-18th century market reform. Crusoe's books were published as a dubious histories; they played the game of the scandalous early 18th century market, with the novel fully integrated into the realm of histories. They even appeared reprinted by one of the London newspapers as a possibly true relation of facts. Philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau turned Robinson Crusoe into a classic decades later, and it took another century before one could see Defoe's book as the first English "novel"—published, as Ian Watt saw it in 1957, as an answer to the market of French romances. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novel#To_be_Discussed:_The_Novel_turning_into_Literature.2C_1740-1800 [Sept 2005]

See also: UK - novel - 1700s

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