‘Thérèse philosophe’


The eighteenth century seems to have witnessed a transformation in sexual behaviour and attitudes.  There certainly seems to have developed, relative to previous times, an enormous openness with regards to sex (or, at least, heterosexual sex), particularly in cities such as Venice, Paris and London, an openness which went well beyond a libertine few.  In their letters and diaries, men and women unabashedly recounted the sexual adventures of themselves and their acquaintances.  Some evidence of these shifting attitudes was to be found in the growth of sex manuals and erotic literature, in particular pornographic novels, buttressed by mass printing and increasing literacy.  They could be cheaply produced and read aloud in coffee houses and taverns, making it accessible across the social spectrum.  Casanova refers to such literature in his memoirs on a number of occasions.  One particularly notable pornographic novel was ‘Thérèse philosophe’, the focus of a fascinating article by Jennifer J Davis which can be found here.

27 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here

‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ is freely available here.


#sexuality #pornography #theresephilosophe #europe #eighteenthcentury