Victorian Sensuality

When you think about the Victorian Era, "sensuality" is probably the last thing that comes to mind. The period is more commonly thought of as a time of repressed sexuality, strict morals and general social stuffiness.

Stephanie at La Vie Catholique reviews a new book called Simple Social Graces that suggests the stereotype we have of Victorian society isn't quite right:

Much of this book clarifies some myths that we have about the Victorians that arose largely because of disdain for them, and out of attempts to promote modern ideas about sexuality and more. The author, Linda S. Lichter, explains well how the Victorians were not prudes who all thought sex was dirty and at best a duty, in fact they had such a high regard for it that they kept it where it should be - between husband and wife.

I often wondered, as I studied Victorian literature, just how we got the concept that these people were stiff, cold, unfeeling prudes, because the literature I read swelled with beautiful descriptions of transcendental love, and of deep, yet controlled, passion. The "subtle sensuality" is more romantic than any smut widely seen on TV soap operas today. And isn't it the Victorian elaborate cards and meaningful flowers we think of when Valentine's Day comes around? They were certainly not lacking in love just because they thought it proper to control lust.

Read the rest.

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