Madonnas and Magdalens: The origins and development of Victorian sexual attitudes in literature and society.
2015-11-19T09:01:13Z (GMT) by
Victorian sexuality has been treated in numerous catchpenny works in a facetious, sensationalist or righteously indignant vein. Even the attention it has received from serious scholars has, with a few exceptions, been deficient in depth of historical sympathy, in comprehensiveness of scale, and in complexity and clarity of generalization. In this thesis I attempt first to explain sympa-thetically the sources of Victorian sexual attitudes as they appear in society and literature, and in particular the Victorian view of woman; and then to trace through, I hope, a complex yet cogent analytical model the gradual evolution of these attitudes from the middle of the eighteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth. It need hardly be said that, with such an abundance of materials, I have treated only certain kind of sexual attitudes (homosexuality, the so-called perversions, and the huge subject of woman's view of man, for example, receive very little discussion); and I have confined myself largely to the thought and conduct of the middle classes (the London middle classes in particular), with less attention to those of the aristocracy and still less to those of the proletariat.