Wednesday, 9 November 2011

T. L. on Memoirs of Utopia in 1757

The following note and editorial addition, concerning Haywood's Memoirs of a Certain Island Adjacent to the Kingdom of Utopia, appears in The Critical Review; Or, Annals of Literature 4 (November 1757): 272.

To the Author of the Critical Review.

SIR,
  LAST winter a book called Modern Lovers was published, pr. 3 s. but in fact was only part of The Memoirs of Utopia. This month the same publisher has exhibited a book called Prostitutes of Quality, which is likewise extracted from Memoirs of Utopia, and yesterday a book was published, called Memoirs of B— Tracey, which in fact is only a part of an absence book, called A History of the Human Heart, which is not fit to be read by the public.

Nov. 26, 1757.
      Your obedient servant,
            T. L.

N. B. The authors of The Critical Review are obliged to T. L. for the above letter; and should be obliged to him for the same sort of information hereafter; for they would heartily join him in detecting such notorious and infamous impositions on the public.


* * * * *

The works mentioned are:

[1] Modern Lovers; Or, The Adventures of Cupid, the God of Love: A Novel (London: Printed for J. Cooke, at the King’s-Arms, in Great-Turnstile, Holbourn, 1756); ESTC: t66385.

[2] Prostitutes of Quality; Or, Adultery รก-la-mode. Being Authentic and Genuine Memoirs of Several Persons of the Highest Quality (London: Printed for J. Cooke, and J. Coote, opposite Devereux-Court, in the Strand, 1757); ESTC: t46030.

[3] Memoirs of B— Tracey [aka The Notorious Libertine; Or, The Adventures of B----- Tracey] (London: Printed for J. King, in Great Turnstile, Holborn, [1757]); ESTC: t118902.

[4] A History of the Human Heart; Or, The Adventures of a Young Gentleman (London: Printed for J. Freeman, 1749); ESTC: n17696.

Neither Modern Lovers nor Prostitutes of Quality is, in fact, "only part of The Memoirs of Utopia"—as a search of the three texts makes clear—and the two later works are not related to each other either. And if Memoirs of B— Tracey is "in fact is only a part of" A History of the Human Heart, it is a very large part, the former being 214 pages compared to the latter's 314—but it looks like "T. L." missed the mark here too.

What is interesting, however, is to see someone identifying all of these works to each other and as "not fit to be read by the public"! That is, The Memoirs of Utopia = Authentic and Genuine Memoirs of Lovers, Prostitutes and Notorious Libertines = porn.

I really haven't a clue what "an absence book" is, unless this is Latinate pun with Ab- and Sense: Ab- being a prefix meaning "off, away, from" and, therefore, absence could be synonymous with something like "senseless." But this is a stretch. If there is an accepted meaning of this word/phrase, I am not familiar with, and neither are the editors of the OED.

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