Kim Novak and her cleavage lead me to the 18th century…

There is something I find fascinating about the concept of the scholar who is attracted to vice.

Indeed, that is how I view myself. Erudition and sleaze are two of the most essential components of a well-rounded life.

I make no pretentions to a great intellect, but I have spent many enjoyable hours in the realms of esoteric volumes.

Likewise have I lolled in the precincts of the prurient–the strip club, the whorehouse, and the dungeon.

I read an article recently in the New Yorker that implied that Samuel Johnson, that ultimate 18th century English man of letters, was also addicted to what is known as the “English” vice–being restrained and whipped by his beloved (who was a married woman at the time).

Good man.

Wearied from my time travels in the last week to ancient Greece, Renaissance Rome, 1930s and 1960s Hollywood, and the Middle Ages, I settled last night for perusing Wedeck’s “Dictionary of Erotic Literature,” (Philosophical Library, New York, 1962) while imbibing ginger ale and chomping bridge mix. (I also have a weakness for Bachman’s Brick Oven Flame-Baked Butter Twist Pretzels.) One of Wedeck’s entries spirited me back to the 18th century as I read of one Peter Motteux (1663-1718), pioneering English journalist (but born in France) who started one of the first magazines in Britain, translated Don Quixote, and probably died of autoerotic asphyxiation in a “bawdy house”.

As images of movies like The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders with Kim Novak…

This 1965 movie was a delight for a thirteen year old, as you can well imagine.

This 1965 movie was a delight for a fourteen year old, as you can well imagine.

…and 1963’s Tom Jones with Albert Finney and Diane Cilento popped into my brain…

I saw this movie when I was mere sprout of 12...

I saw this movie when I was mere sprout of 12...

…not to mention Linda Darnell in the lead role of Forever Amber…a movie I have yet to see, but whose stills have intrigued me for years…

Linda Darnell in her prime was like Popeye's spinach to the libido...

Linda Darnell in her prime was like Popeye's spinach to the libido...

…I savored this poem of Motteux’s, which I now share with you:

————

Man is for woman made,

And the woman made for man;

As the spur is for the jade,

As the scabbard for the blade,

As for digging is the spade,

As for liquor is the can,

So man is for the woman made

And the woman made for man.

As the sceptre’s to be swayed,

As for night’s the serenade,

As for pudding is the pan,

And to cool us is the fan,

So man is for the woman made

And the woman made for man.

Be she widow, wife, or maid,

Be she wanton, be she staid,

Be she well or ill arrayed,

Whore, or bawd, or harridan,

Yet man is for the woman made

And the woman made for man.

——–

There is something sly about this poem, something of the grog house and drunken lechery in its mix of ominous and homey imagery of various cohabitations (the scabbard and the blade, the pudding and the pan). I like it. I think it would go well with a pint or two of Guinness.

And, of course, Kim Novak.

"You tempt me to debachery, sly sir! Lead the way!"

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Herr Traveler:

    Any discussion of the movie “Tom Jones” should certainly include a mention of the natural connection of food and sex. One of the most memorable scenes in the film is the banquet scene, in which Finney and Cilento show their lust for each other by their ravenous devouring of an enormous repast, preparatory to their devouring each other.

    I myself was a mere sprout of edelweiss when I first viewed this seminal (no pun intended) movie, and it made me aware of this vital connection for the first time in my young life.

    Keep up–and I do mean UP!–the good work.

    Count von Pauli

  2. Thank you, dear Count, for your prompt addendum for the gustatory omission!


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