Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism

Deborah Lutz (Author)


As thought-provoking as it is electric, Pleasure Bound unearths the desires of the men and women who challenged buttoned-up Victorian mores to promote erotic freedom. These bohemians formed two loosely overlapping societies--the Cannibal Club and the Aesthetes--to explore their fascinations with sexual taboo, from homosexuality to the eroticization of death. Known as much for their flamboyant personal lives as for their controversial masterpieces, they created a scandal-provoking counterculture that paved the way for such later figures as Gustav Klimt, Virginia Woolf, and Jean Genet.

In this stunning exposé of the Victorian London we thought we knew, Deborah Lutz takes us beyond the eyebrow-raising practices of these sex rebels, revealing how they uncovered troubles that ran beneath the surface of the larger social fabric: the struggle for women's emancipation, the dissolution of formal religions, and the pressing need for new forms of sexual expression.

Product Details

W. W. Norton & Company
Publish Date
February 14, 2011
6.07 X 1.11 X 8.64 inches | 1.13 pounds

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About the Author

Deborah Lutz is the Thruston B. Morton Endowed Chair of English at the University of Louisville. Her books include The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects and Relics of Death in Victorian Literature and Culture. She is editor of the Norton Critical Edition of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre


A polished, thought-provoking, and original work of history that possesses all the finesse of literature.--Simon Van Booy, author of The Secret Lives of People in Love
Pleasure Bound shines a sensitive light into the darker corners of Victorian sexuality. The sometimes subtle, sometimes consuming interplay of sensuality and death; the danger and draw of sexual transgression; the irresistible lure of forbidden pleasure--through their erotic longings and adventures, the Victorian sex rebels lead us to the heart of a struggle for authentic sexual expression in an era of repression now past. Or is it?--Patricia Anderson, Ph.D., author of When Passion Reigned: Sex and the Victorians
Pleasure Bound is a lively, readable and informative survey of the sometimes surprising connections between art, literature, and the sexual underworld in Victorian England.--David Lodge, author of Deaf Sentence