The Origins of Sex, By Faramierz Dabhoiwala
Boyd Tonkin is Literary Editor at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Social Policy Editor of the New Statesman and has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes. He has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in literature.
Friday 08 February 2013
As gay marriage wins Westminster approval, this outstanding work of cultural history follows Britain's long, winding path towards sexual freedom.
Until the 17th century, Dabhoiwala argues, strict policing of personal morality (see Iran or Saudi Arabia today) was a European norm.
With Enlightenment, toleration slowly took root. So erotic choice required an intellectual revolution.
From brothel-keeping to sodomy trials, Restoration libertines to Georgian feminists, his book matches incisive scholarship with humane sensitivity.
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