Fashioning Adultery: Gender, Sex and Civility in England, by David M. Turner

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By David M. Turner

A massive survey of representations of adultery in later 17th and early eighteenth-century England brings jointly a large choice of literary and felony assets, it charts and explains shifts within the realizing of marital infidelity. It examines, particularly, demanding situations to spiritual perceptions of sexual sin and the improvement of a extra rational knowing of the factors and results of adultery.

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Additional resources for Fashioning Adultery: Gender, Sex and Civility in England, 1660-1740

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Chapter 3 begins to fill this lacuna by exploring debates about cuckoldry as a theme in comic literature and assesses how new genres such as periodicals opened up cultural spaces for the reassessment of the issues surrounding sexual betrayal and failed masculinity. Chapter 6 develops these ideas further by examining the legal issues surrounding cuckoldry as they developed in actions for criminal conversation, whereby a deceived husband sued his wife’s lover for damages. Shifting sensibilities concerning cuckold humour are approached afresh by re-examining how and why cuckolding was found funny.

Pepys, Diary, V, p. 339, 7 Dec. 1664; VIII, p. 120, 20 Mar. 1667. 42 Pepys, Diary, V, p. 270, 14 Sept. 1664. For the former see Genesis xxxiv. 7. , IX, p. 340, 27 Oct. 1668; IX, p. 343, 31 Oct. 1668. , IV, p. 303, 9 Sept. 1663. , VI, p. 285, 1 Nov. 1665. 48 The term ‘unkindness’ had more powerful resonance than it does in modern usage. Being cognate with ‘kin’, it implied that Pepys’s behaviour was not consistent with the intimate companion he was supposed to be to his wife. ‘Perjury’ was an even stronger expression of betrayal.

What links these sources together is not so much their subject matter as their recourse to a common language of sexual misconduct. Using a broad set of texts including moral treatises, diaries, novels, periodicals and plays, the opening chapter analyses changes in the words by which adultery and its perpetrators were labelled. Historically, language has played a crucial role in setting boundaries between licit and illicit behaviour. Heavily implicated in structures of power and authority, it both constitutes value systems and positions its speakers in relation to these values.

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