ASPASIA- TWO EROTIC NOVELS

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Prior to the opening in Athens of the stunning new Acropolis Museum with a spectacular gallery that faces the Parthenon, I think the British had a pretty good case. After all, Parliament put Lord Elgin through grueling hearings to determine if he acquired the marbles legally.

Whether he did remains a subject of fierce debate, but at least Parliament tried to do the right thing.

The British have made these treasures easily accessible to the world in a very democratic way for a very long time. That said, it is inescapable that these treasures should be reunited with the building for which they were created. I agree that returning the marbles does open a can of worms as far as setting a precedent for who owns what in the world of art. If this idea of returning everything to its place of origin is carried out to its logical conclusion, the Louvre and other museums like it will soon be virtually empty.

No one wants that. But the marbles, because they were taken from a structure that is still standing, represent a special case. One simply senses that they must go home! Do you feel that both Mary and Aspasia reject or accept the conventional notions of ownership at the end of the novel?

Well, Mary was certainly passionate about retaining ownership of her fortune and retaining control over her body—both of which were at odds with the conventions of her day. In the early days of the 19th century, a woman was literally and legally chattel—the property of her husband. I believe that both of these women embodied a sense of self-determination that was radical in their respective societies.

Both attained notoriety, for sure. Both were wildly criticized and persecuted, but both received respect from very illustrious persons. These were women who wanted to transcend ownership and own themselves. Women—even privileged women—are still struggling to find their comfort zone in society. Join Reader Rewards and earn your way to a free book! Join Reader Rewards and earn points when you purchase this book from your favorite retailer. Read An Excerpt. Paperback —. Add to Cart.

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Also by Karen Essex. Product Details. Inspired by Your Browsing History. Related Articles. Looking for More Great Reads? Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now. Download Hi Res. LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices. Read it Forward Read it first. Pass it on! Stay in Touch Sign up. We are experiencing technical difficulties. Two years later, in his metatheatrical piece The Critic, the dramatist uses Sneer and Dangle, his two amateur critics, to satirise "genteel comedy" written in "the true sentimental" fashion , theatre as "the school of morality," and prudish theatre-goers.

In their conversation, Dangle makes the following comment on the audience's taste: "I think the worst alteration is in the nicety of the audience - No double entendre, no smart innuendo admitted; even Vanbrugh and Congreve obliged [my emphasis] to undergo a bungling reformation. The same idea is also hinted at in the prologue to The Critic, written by Richard Fitzpatrick, namely that the audience's moral sensibilities have been responsible for the reformation of Restoration comedy.

As a corrective of indecent wit, this reformation was partly justified, but it had gone to extremes: it had turned comedy into "an arrant prude" It is difficult to ascertain the extent to which Dangle's comment on the "nicety of the audience" as well as Fitzpatrick's perceptive assessment of the changes in post-Restoration drama unambiguously reflect the dramatist's own views.

Insofar as the politics of the theatre was largely dictated by benevolist ideologies and the concomitant demand for edification, Sheridan had to accommodate the popular taste for moral reform-. In this sense, Dangle's statement is paradigmatic of Sheridan's careful handling of the antithetical positions from which he writes.

The word "obliged" veils precisely his own commitment to the "reformation" of seventeenth-century comedies, however bungling it may be. I intend to show how "wisely" Sheridan transformed a radical and complex text into a non-contradictory, innocuous one to endorse the very assumptions demolished by Vanbrugh. I hasten to add that his venture was not devoid of problems. Since Sheridan appropriates the drama often in a morally and aesthetically contrary way, it is not altogether convincing; thus, the result contains loose ends and inconsistencies.

Nonetheless, the version was successful enough to oust the original from the repertoire thanks to Sheridan's acute sense of contemporary taste. I shall concentrate on the major strategic moves by which he accommodated his text so effectively to his audience's sensibilities. But first, it is necessary to see his most important alterations, several of which are instrumental in the "reformation" of the original.

In the subplot, Sheridan more or less retains the central scenes in their entirety while removing their satirical edges to avoid offending his audience. He omits Foppington's lines on the dullness of church-going on Sunday, and the object of his scorn is changed from church to opera- going.

In this sense, he silences his predecessor's satire on religion as an institution which relies on empty forms of devotion and on the self-interest of its representatives. This satire, however, is part of Vanbrugh's overall awareness of the radical discrepancy between moral ideologies and human practices reflected, predominantly, in the language of the characters in the main plot. Bowdlerisation also dictates that Sheridan censor the original by substituting Mrs.

Coupler, a decent professional matchmaker, for Vanbrugh's male homosexual bawd while omitting Hoyden's bigamous plans and her line on the pleasure of two wedding-nights 4.

‎Sexualité‎

These alterations are indicative of Sheridan's strategy of suppressing Vanbrugh's problematics of desire, which postulates its anarchical character. Inevitably, the "purging" of the original sexual "indecencies" is articulated in a language which, divested of bawdiness, tames the mordant satire. Significantly, it also ceases to reflect the instability intrinsic to the sexual positioning of the characters both in the main plot and in the subplot.

What Sheridan's "purified" language attempts to produce, in place of Vanbrugh's verbal ambiguities, is an even, uncomplicated text devoid of the radical ambivalence marking the original. In the main plot, on which I wish to concentrate, the adaptation inscribes an intricate web of amalgamations and omissions of the original scenes, as well as a considerable softening of the language and the aggressive sexual politics of The Relapse.


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Sheridan omits the first scene set in Loveless's country house where the town is emphatically associated by the protagonist with worldly temptation and is contrasted with the country as the locus of "lawful love. He also takes particular care to make the encounter between Berinthia and Loveless sexually inoffensive by omitting the young lady's ravishment by the relapsed husband 4.

In the same scene, and consistent with the silencing of the anti-church satire in the original, he deletes Berin- thia's dismissal of a sermon for a sex comedy as her bedtime reading Moreover, he proceeds to several, seemingly less dramatic, but equally crucial, alterations. Thus, by shifting the action from London to Scarborough, he substantially dilutes the opposition between London and the country, which even then retained much of its ideological vigour,7 while he omits Vanbrugh's persisting linking of the theatre to the erotic gaze.

He interestingly deletes from Berinthia's argument for the delights of widowhood her confession to Amanda that she married against her will 2. In one scene 4. Very appropriately, he rewrites the final scene, where Amanda and Loveless silently watch a masque in what Foppington had intended as his wedding feast which re-inscribes marital fidelity as an infeasible ideal while reiterating the basic assumption in The Relapse, namely that desire is inherently mobile and hence unstable.

From these alterations one can see two major directions in A Trip to Scarborough. First, by censoring scenes which register the main characters' problematical position with regard to illicit forms of desire, Sheridan silences their psychological ambivalence. Thus, he effectively deflates Vanbrugh's radical insight into the dynamics of pleasure that eventually erodes Amanda's moral intransigence.

In this context, the internal division in Loveless, and, increasingly so, in Amanda, too, between their loyalty to the ideal of constancy and their vulnerability to the seductiveness of the town, is either attenuated or simply elided.

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In conclusion, Sheridan's rewriting is predicated on the elimination of the disruptive effects of desire on the characters' stability and hence of the unresolved contradictions marking the original. A crucial gesture exemplifying the above is Sheridan's omission of the first scene which firmly establishes the central conflict in Vanbrugh.

Although Loveless's country house provides the setting, no scene directions are provided; therefore, we feel that we are in a "limbo of noble sentiments. In his opening speech, Loveless extols the pleasures of retirement to the country and the "warm pleasing fire of lawful love" 1.


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His language, however, already inscribes contradictions because had his life truly glided on, and been "well within" 1. The subtext is ironical in that it suggests that the couple's lofty discourse of erotic stability serves in reality as an intensifier of a waning passion. The prospect of their moving to London is clearly a threat to their agonising effort to immobilise desire within marriage, hence Amanda's demands for unconditional guarantees of constancy. London, as a site of multiple pleasures, is correctly perceived as catalytic of an already endangered. By cutting this crucial scene and by postponing the entrance of the couple to Act 2, Sheridan undercuts the psychological tension that turns their trip to town into a painful journey of self-awareness.

A far more decisive move in the erasing of Loveless's self-contradictory position is Sheridan's omission of his self-revelatory soliloquy after he had become attracted to Berinthia in the theatre.

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Contrary to what has been suggested, Loveless's psychological vacillations do not arise from his attempt to preserve virtue in a world that confronts individual morality with temptation. The latter springs from his attempt to accommodate his desire for Berinthia to the "virtuous," that is, the monogamous self, and his failure to do so, precisely because "virtue" is perceived as an externally imposed moral category. His discourse throws into relief his bewilderment in the face of his desire for another woman, while he still feels genuine affection for his wife significantly reasserted at the end : "Is not her empire fixed?

Am I not hers? Loveless struggles to come to terms with the traumatic acceptance that love and desire for one person do not necessarily coincide. In reality, his inner debate deconstructs the very assumption on which monogamy rests, that is, the permanent configuration of love and desire within marriage.

Vanbrugh demonstrates that the monogamous ideal becomes sooner or later compulsory insofar as it can only operate on the basis of denial and repression. However, this awareness endangers the notion of marriage as the resolution of contrarieties and the closure of life that Sheridan's play clearly promotes.

Thus, the dramatist performs yet another corrective gesture. Just as there is no real relapse in Loveless because he never truly questioned his feelings for Amanda in the first place , neither is she ever tempted by "unlawful" love. Despite the fact that the undercurrent of her growing interest in the possibilities of pleasure is reduced to an empty curiosity about the town, Amanda's imperviousness to temptation is suggested from the outset. James Gill remarks of the original: "Indeed, a puzzled Loveless wonders that his interests in other women should revive just at the moment of his contentment with Amanda.

And later we see that Amanda is "speculating" about an affair with another man even as she declares her happiness with Loveless. I selected it because it is an imagined portrait of one of my two heroines done by a female artist who was painting in the time period of my other heroine, Mary Nisbet circa The insertion of a small portion of the Parthenon frieze at the bottom was genius, as far as I am concerned. And I also love the gilded Turkish trim that the designer uses at the top of the cover because it brings in another element of the book, which is its setting in Ottoman-ruled Turkey and Greece.

I think the result is stunning. Is there a continuing theme for your novels? My novels are about women and power. Throughout every historical era, dynamic women have influenced world events but history has rarely recorded their accomplishments. In fact, when my daughter was in grade school, she and her friends could not name any powerful women except…Madonna!

At that point, I made it my goal to revive the stories of extraordinary women, highlighting the ways that they transformed the times in which they lived and the world beyond. How are the stories of Aspasia and Mary Nisbet Elgin relevant to women today? Aspasia lived some years ago, and Mary lived years ago. I wrote about these two women because, firstly, their experiences resonate quite hauntingly, and secondly, because while women generally have more rights and status today, at least in much of the world, our concerns are the same as those women.

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Both Mary and Aspasia defied social convention, which also makes them extremely identifiable to women today who have lived through so much social change. What are you working on now? My next book will incorporate lore, mythology, and metaphysics, reflecting my interests in all those things. It will again be historical fiction told from a female point of view, but it will also be quite a departure, though one that I believe my readers are pre-disposed to like. Do you think the Elgin Marbles should be returned to the Greek government? Is there an argument to be made for the Marbles to stay in the British Museum?

Prior to the opening in Athens of the stunning new Acropolis Museum with a spectacular gallery that faces the Parthenon, I think the British had a pretty good case. After all, Parliament put Lord Elgin through grueling hearings to determine if he acquired the marbles legally. Whether he did remains a subject of fierce debate, but at least Parliament tried to do the right thing.

The British have made these treasures easily accessible to the world in a very democratic way for a very long time.

24 Best Aspasia in Art images in | Oil paintings, Painting art, Ancient Greece

That said, it is inescapable that these treasures should be reunited with the building for which they were created. I agree that returning the marbles does open a can of worms as far as setting a precedent for who owns what in the world of art. If this idea of returning everything to its place of origin is carried out to its logical conclusion, the Louvre and other museums like it will soon be virtually empty.

No one wants that. But the marbles, because they were taken from a structure that is still standing, represent a special case. One simply senses that they must go home! Do you feel that both Mary and Aspasia reject or accept the conventional notions of ownership at the end of the novel? Well, Mary was certainly passionate about retaining ownership of her fortune and retaining control over her body—both of which were at odds with the conventions of her day. In the early days of the 19th century, a woman was literally and legally chattel—the property of her husband.

I believe that both of these women embodied a sense of self-determination that was radical in their respective societies. Both attained notoriety, for sure. Both were wildly criticized and persecuted, but both received respect from very illustrious persons. These were women who wanted to transcend ownership and own themselves.

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