Written by Edward Sellon just before his suicide, The Ups and Downs of Life (1867) is at once a book of pornography and a pornographer’s philosophical testament. This article analyzes the literary strategies, discursive practices and ideological implications that inform this ‘erotic autobiography’, a remarkable text so far neglected by scholarship. With the methodological tools of gender studies and feminist literary criticism, the article examines the porno/autobiographer’s efforts to construct a heroic, heterosexual masculine identity through the discourse of philosophical libertinism, and his tragic failure. The Ups and Downs expands our knowledge of the Victorian subculture of pornography and sheds further light on the relationship between libertinism and masculinity, as well as on the power of pornography to challenge dominant public and literary discourses. With his skilful manipulation of generic categories (the realist novel, the ‘men of letters’ autobiography) and the search for a metaphysics of the flesh, Sellon destabilizes the boundaries between high and low culture: by choosing to recount the ‘ups and downs’ of his life (and of his penis) as an experiment in pornographic writing, he invents a textual space for articulating counter-hegemonic discourses otherwise unspeakable in Victorian culture.
|Titolo:||The autobiography of a Victorian pornographer: Edward Sellon’s The Ups and Downs of Life|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2017|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|