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Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  10,125 ratings  ·  770 reviews
One of the most prosecuted and banned books in history.

The classic novel of a young girl's exploration of physical pleasures.

Young Fanny Hill is tricked into a life of prostitution, but she quickly learns the power of her own body as she learns the ways of physical passion. She soon escapes her fate for the loving arms of a wealthy young man, but misadventure and fate cons
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published 1994 by Penguin (first published November 21st 1748)
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3.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,125 ratings  ·  770 reviews


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Alex
If you've heard one euphemism for penis, you...well, you haven't heard them all. Once you finish this book, then you'll have heard them all.

I had more fun reading this porn than I did many other 18-century novels, but that's largely because it's very short; faced with 600 pages of this, and given that I've already seen the word "vermilion" at least 600 times, I would probably give up.

And as porn goes, it's....okay I guess? It's not exactly hot, but it's not unacceptably un-hot, either, which is
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Emily May
Aug 19, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily May by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
Shelves: 2012, classics, erotica
I'm talking about an erotic novel here, so maybe don't read my review if you tend to get offended by open and frank discussion about sexual acts. Just warning you in advance :)

Okay, firstly, this is porn. Just porn. Not a great literary achievement, not something that will sit snug in your mind with the Austen and Bronte classics... PORN. It got quite a reputation for being the first pornography to appear in novel form, and it also got a reputation because it was banned for multiple centuries an
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Fabian
Jun 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All sex acts are unique, beautiful, & uniquely beautiful in the immensely pleasurable "Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure." Through the ages, sex has brought wondrous delight to human beings and here is testament of that fortitude over mere convention and the evil forces of repression.

This, like the ever-powerful "Naked Lunch" centuries later, had to be defended/bashed fervently by those thinking the book had any power over weak minds or even anything, um, ethical? Still, le petit mort (or being
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Jessica
Oct 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: emily and other aficionadas of filthy, filthy, lovely filthy filth
They should make me Education Secretary. I'd make Fanny Hill required reading in freshman English classes across the country, thus instantly solving our country's illiteracy problem and instilling an abiding love of literature in our nation's young citizens.

I miss my copy of this book! I'd never heard of it before when I found it in a box on the sidewalk in Park Slope a few years ago, and had no idea what a lovely filthy treasure I had just unearthed.... I hope Lindsey enjoyed my edition of this
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Aubrey
If I could go back in time and track Cleland down for a nice chat, I'd smack him in the face with a clipboard and watch him like a hawk till he'd read through the list clipped there in its entirety. Better yet, I'd take a woman and a man back with me, both of them less concerned with feminism issues to an unholy extent than I, and let the conversings about the genders commence. Maybe then, perhaps, I'd figure this author out.

The list? An abridged version of the following.

If you've seen my review
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Duane
By 18th century standards it was literary smut. Even by today's standards it is bawdy. Fellow GR reviewer Jessica called it "lovely filthy filth". It has survived the centuries though and still finds itself in print and apparently still being read by hundreds of Goodreads members.
Luís C.
Having become an orphan at 16, Fanny is taken to London by a "benefactress" who abandons her as soon as she arrives. The girl was immediately spotted and picked up by a madam, who immediately began to put a price on virginity. A delightful friend and a few sessions of voyeurism will suffice to instruct her.
Fanny falls in love with her first lover, also reciprocal love. But the father of the latter takes her away from the country: Fanny then has no other resources than to prostitute again.
The aut
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Jan-Maat
A strikingly repetitive book - certainly not a novel, with a curious jolly hockey sticks air to it.

Structured as the memoirs of an innocent young girl, written in letters to a lady, from the countryside who is tricked into a life of prostitution (of the decorous type in respectable brothels not the wandering about Covent Garden type). It has a good deal of admiring descriptions of penises follows and the noun vermilion is frequently used to describe the vulvas seen during the course of her work.
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Stela
Jan 25, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
There is a saying – Curiosity killed the cat. I learned about this 18th century porn while reading David Lodge’s Modes of Modern Writing, and of course it aroused my interest regarding both the language and the approach of a subject I had thought until then too daring for a prude period. It seems I was wrong and all that prudeness we know about is due to 19th century, mainly Victorian period. So, for one of most banished books in history (as Wikipedia informs us) Fanny Hill is not even very revo ...more
Christina
A rather repetitive and primitive story of a young naive girl who arrives in London without any money or family to take care of her and who have to endure a lot of hardship before finally finding her true love. The hardship, however, is mostly in the form of a lot of sex which she finds a lot of pleasure in - this is truly a book where the means are more important than the end and the means are described in detail, unfortunately these details are more or less the same, repeated over and over, on ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
An outstanding allegorical work. Using tales of sex, John Cleland managed to portray the common fate of women: from their blissful innocence, to their hard lives, their exploitation by men, rebellion and ultimate redemption. First person narrator here is the young and beautiful Fanny Hill. This is the story of her poverty as an orphan, the innocence of her virginity, her corruption in a brothel, her languid life as a mistress, her defiant infidelities and wild sexual abandon, and finally her red ...more
Michael
In 1748 English novelist John Cleland went to debtors’ prison; while he was there he wrote a novel that went on to become the most prosecuted and banned book in history. Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure is often referred to as Fanny Hill and is considered one of the first pornographic novels in the English language. Due to the release of this book, Cleland and his publisher Ralph Griffiths were both arrested and charged with “corrupting the King’s subjects”. The book went on to become so popular t ...more
Sheri
Sep 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
So I'm not really sure where to go here. I have a ton of thoughts but not really sure how best to organize.

On one hand, I am astounded by the blatent language and content (given that this was published in 1748). Some of it makes fifty shades look tame (although if you read my review of that, my complaint there was that it really wasn't as graphic as advertised).

I was also pleased (while simultaneously offended) at the progressive description of female sexuality. Especially after reading such cr
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Anya (~on a semi-hiatus~)
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: el-clásico, meh
It was free on Gutenberg and seventeen year old Anya wanted some sexy fun times. Unfortunately, this book was pure porn with no sexy fun times to be had. Seventeen year old Anya was very disappointed. :c
Kim
Mar 26, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: own, zzzzz, eye-bleach
This was pretty fucking awful. The writing is terrible - I don't care what century you're from. Entire paragraphs that consist of one long, bloated sentence with about fourteen commas? Kill me.

And I'm not exaggerating when I say that this guy loved the absolute shit out of synonyms. He crammed those babies, three and four at a time, into sentences that I was barely following in the first place. He couldn't tell you, for instance, about that whore over there with the pale white skin without also
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Charity
Jan 18, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sexy Folk
Shelves: 1001books
Hooray for smut!

Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure is widely considered the first pornographic novel and one of the most heavily banned books around. I thought it was an enjoyable read overall (though I found the first part/letter more entertaining than the second), but it really doesn't have much more storyline than modern-day porn. I also would have to agree with other reviewers who complained of it being rather penis-centric (the women just ooh and aah over all the amazing penises)
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Konstantin
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still beats much of today's erotica.
Cecily
Jun 25, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Anne says "Cleland was the first writer to represent sexual acts as something beautiful, rather than vulgar or ridiculous." Her full review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Laura
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

Opening lines:
I sit down to give you an undeniable proof of my considering your desires as indispensable orders. Ungracious then as the task may be, I shall recall to view those scandalous stages of my life, out of which I emerged, at length, to the enjoyment of every blessing in the power of love, health and fortune to bestow; whilst yet in the flower of youth, and not too late to employ the leisure afforded me by great ease and affluence, to cultiva
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Roman Clodia
Divided into two long letters written by Fanny to a female friend, this feels like a book of two halves. The first makes an intervention into the standard story of the innocent young woman, alone and without resources: Fanny makes her way to London, falls in love then loses her beloved Charles. Taken advantage of, and after a brief period of distress, rather than wringing her hands Fanny finds herself taking to her new-found role as a purchased mistress and rather good at both giving and taking ...more
Jennifer
Mar 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: classic erotica buffs
Shelves: classics, porn
I had no idea when I read this that people could be so naughty "back then". Heh. I am thinking I wouldn't even blink at the book now and would probably grumble at the lack of plot - but when I was a teen and I read this - it was shocking and kind of funny.
Grace Harwood
Jan 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Oh my Goodness, I find it so hard to believe that this book came out of the same century as the works of Mrs Radcliffe!! I could hardly believe what I was reading as something which came out just a few decades earlier than those Radcliffean novels of sensibility and refined heroines. Fanny Hill is anything but refined. From Radcliffe you will get elongated descriptions of scenery which will elevate your soul - from this you get elongated descriptions of something else... mainly genitalia. I read ...more
Morgan
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is what happens when you read too much Alan Moore.

I actually enjoyed this story more than I thought. I wasn't really sure what to expect, it's porn after all. I liked the disruptions though. Some of them read liked a regular novel and some (most the sex scenes) got overly ridiculous which made the book fun. Most of this was dated though. I'll give it slack for being one of the earliest erotica novels in English. Modern erotic novelist, such as Anaïs Nin, are better, in my opinion.
Sarah Jacquie
Nov 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romance, erotic
I have a thing where I MUST read controversial/banned books, and this one I HAD to read being that it was written in 1748! Controversial books written before America was even a country... I'm in. Not big on romance, and I definitely don't read erotica.

I went in thinking this would be amusingly tame and innocent, something like Moll Flanders or Vanity Fair with an R rating a bit ahead of it's time.

1963, the US let up on obscenity laws and amazing books were published for the public to read. This
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katerina ☕
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This is just some well written porn. That's it.

There was no plot, no story whatsoever, just a main character who fell in love with a different man every couple of pages and a lot, I mean a lot, of sex.

I actually skipped some of the sex parts, because they got too repetitive and boring after a while.

Nothing really happens in this book and I was a bit disappointed by that. I was actually quite excited to read this because of how controversial it was when it first came out all those years ago, and
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Daniel Namie
Jun 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
"Having very curiously and attentively compared the size of that enormous machine, which did not appear, at least to my fearful imagination, less than my wrist, and at least three of my hand-full long, to that of the tender small part of me which was framed to receive it, I could not conceive its being possible to afford it entrance without dying, perhaps in the greatest pain, since she well knew that even a finger thrust in there hurt me beyond bearing."

--By John Cleland, Memoirs of Fanny Hil
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Nuno Ribeiro
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: _fiction
A classic of erotic writing. Truly interesting to know how 18th century England society thought of sex and how men and women were suposed to behave in their roles. In this aspect, we have prety much an hyperbole of what still echoes today. Men are heroic figures, with big (sometimes irrealisticaly gigantic) penises, that lead what happens in bed and have an animalistic sexual energy. Women are dualistic. Trapped between the flesh temptations and very narrow spiritual path choices. They start as ...more
Liz
I thought Fanny Hill was going to be in the same vein as The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, including a smattering of cheeky 18thC sex scenes that hardly raise an eyebrow in the 21stC. I couldn't have been more wrong.

I'd heard Fanny Hill's reputation (who hasn't? the slattern!), but then I've also read Lady Chatterley's Lover which isn't half as saucy as its reputation....

I wasn't quite prepared for the fact that Fanny Hill consists almost entirely of sex scenes linked together by the slimm
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Dawn
Ha, I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this book. I randomly picked it out because I was looking for an eighteenth century novel to read. Low and behold, it was a little bit of smut.
I rather enjoyed the story, it was fun to read a story about a woman pursuing her pleasure and not dying at the end but there is no doubt that it got a little tiring to read about all the wonderful lovers and their significant members, along with all the maidenly woman of pleasure. Pages of descrip
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Sam
Well this turned out to be somewhat more graphic and sexually charged than I expected, which at first made for a great story and a very interesting read. But then it started to get a little repetitive as Fanny moves from one man to another, using her sexuality (and little else) to gain their trust and support. That aside, she does still manage to keep a certain level of independence, particularly given the social norms of the era and how these dictate the direction her life goes. Not to mention ...more
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John Cleland (1709 – 1789) was an English novelist, most famous—and infamous—as the author of the erotic novel Fanny Hill: or, the Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure.

He was born in Kingston upon Thames in Surrey but grew up in London, where his father was first an officer in the British Army and then a civil servant; he was also a friend to Alexander Pope, and Lucy Cleland was a friend or acquaintance
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“...but we no more choose our passions than our features or complexion.” 11 likes
“Em resumo, há nos homens, quando eles se deixam guiar pelos olhos, uma tal credulidade da qual sua majestosa sabedoria não suspeita, fazendo que os mais avisados dentre eles sejam frequentemente enganados por nós.” 3 likes
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