Some scholars have suggested that it all began with a 1749 novel written by John Cleland. The novel’s title was composed of two words: The first being a slightly naughty term for one’s, uh — how shall we put it? That thing you sit on. The second being more acceptable for the Christian ear: namely, “Hill.” However, this hill must be clearly distinguished from the immoral “thrills” one might find on another “Hill” immortalized in rock and roll music. Or perhaps not. It’s clear that the parallels here are inevitable. I must warn you, dear reader, that should you spend at least five minutes contemplating this issue, you may find yourself spending most of the weekend praying to God for forgiveness.
This book, written by Cleland when he was in debtor’s prison, was the first e***** novel. It depicts a certain young woman’s initiation into things we really can’t talk about in this publication. Let’s just say that Ms. Hill, the eponymous character, wasn’t exactly spending all of her spare time cross-stitching.
One might argue whether these unspeakable actions should even be put to pen. The risk of offending so many people clearly outweighs the value of rationally discussing what some have argued to be an everyday and harmless issue.
And yet, almost cavalierly, the writers couldn’t refrain from writing. There were volumes penned by Frank Harris in which this ineffable subject was broached. D.H. Lawrence, thought to be innocent enough with his classic story “The Rocking Horse Winner,” demonstrated his true colors and ineluctable perversion with “Lady Chatterley’s L****,” causing at least four septuagenarians to have cardiac arrests before they had finished reading the first chapter. And then there was that Henry Miller guy who wrote about what shall henceforth be referred to in this essay as It, banging out descriptive passage after descriptive passage of It It It with all the gusto of a man who hadn’t discovered the advantages of tight breeches…
[Whoops! Did I just write that? Editor, please strike.]
…with all the gusto of a man who hadn’t discovered the advantages of, uh, abstienence.
Soon, e****** became a cottage industry. Together with its less steamier cousin, the H******** romance, everyday readers became drawn to cheaply produced paperbacks that not only featured vivid descriptions of It, but dared to suggest It with muscular, long-haired hunks [Editor: Is that too much?] rescuing ripe beauties clad in diaphonous clothing [Oh come on, Editor, you asked me to write about it!].
© 2005, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.