Saturday, 4 September 2010

The Era of Gin, Sex and Brutality

The inimitable James Holledge is responsible for Those Crazy Tom Jones Days: Astonishing Vitality and Depravity in an Era of Gin, Sex and Brutality (London: Horwitz Publications, 1965).

(And my peripatetic cousin, who shares a first name with the said author, is responsible for me having a copy. In fact, he is responsible for me having quite a few Hollege/Horwitz Publications or, rather, quite a few more than I would otherwise have.* This book cost him $2.50; you can buy a copy here for $40.00.)

Since this book is [1] awesome and [2] has the honour of being the first added to my shelves since moving (I have been doing quite a bit weeding) I thought I should do a post on it.

If I had received this book any earlier it certainly would have featured in my collection of pulps on eighteenth-century topics at the Monash Lewd and Scandalous Books exhibition (see my post here)—which would be a third reason to do a post.

A fourth is the subject matter … but do I really need an excuse. Doesn't the shout on this book offer all the justification needed?

What was the world of Tom Jones really like?

It was an age of wit, elegance and brutality, of astonishing wealth and miserable poverty. Francis Chartris was the vilest of seducers and Jonathon Wild was King of Thieves. Lady Mary Wortley-Montagu experimented with smallpox immunisation and was kept prisoner for years in an Italian palace by a sex-mad nobleman.

Those Tom Jones Days recreates the outstanding characters of the age in all their astonishing vitality and depravity.

Don't you want to study the eighteenth-century now?

BTW: I suspect that this shout has been tampered with. I would bet … well, I would bet this book … that it read "Francis Chartris was the Rape Master General and Jonathon Wild was King of Thieves …" (As Wikipedia reports, "The Rape Master General" is the title that was given to Chartris). The epithets would balance better, and it would be in keeping with the breathless—and tasteless—tone of the shout. Perhaps, amazingly, "Rape Master General" was a bridge too far for Horwitz!

* He has a great eye for pulp and he is indirectly responsible for me giving in to the urge to collect it. It is a slippery slope and I caution everyone against it. At some point he gave me one Dennis Wheatley paperback: now have twenty of them …

[UPDATE: 2 July 2016: After all my pictures disappeared again I decided to give up on external hosts for large versions (1000px) of my image files and, for now on, will stick with the smaller images (500px), which Blogger is prepared to host.]