Journeys Transport and Cultural Transition - Andrew Humphries The Female Body - A Historical Journey - Kirsten Semenkewitz Belgium War Refugees during WWI - Kasper van Duijn Biography: Richard Francis Burton - Raymond Howgego Book & Author:Tony Perrottet - Elke Weesjes
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Transport and Cultural Transition A Thesis Overview By: Andrew Humphries
D. H. Lawrence -
ARTICLE TWO - DEBATE
The Female Body - A Historical Journey By: Kirsten Semenkewitz ARTICLE THREE Belgian War Refugees Overview By: Kasper van Duijn
The Netherlands During World War I - A Thesis
Richard Francis Burton By: Raymond Howgego BOOK & AUTHOR
Tony Perrottet - The Sinnerâ€™s Grand Tour By: Elke Weesjes PHOTOGRAPHY
he Victorian era has been defined as a time of extremes and contradictions under a veneer of balance and respectability. Whilst there were many evils like child labour, poverty, prostitution, and unemployment due to a population explosion combined with immigration, there was also tremendous technological progress. Major developments revolutionized travel, industry and communications. The railways in particular, but also steam ships, cars and later aircrafts which allowed people to travel cheaply and rapidly. Inventions such as the telegraph, telephone, camera, as well as the introduction of the first postage stamp which standardised postage, made the world seem smaller. Yet while communication became more rapid and easy, there was a significant reduction in the amount of topics considered acceptable to talk about. Victorian etiquette was characterized by the outward appearance of dignity and restraint, a major contrast from the looser morality of its Georgian predecessor. Tony Perrottet, author of â€˜The Sinners Grand Tourâ€™, notes that in this period of sexual hysteria many objects and written sources were destroyed in order to protect the public from the moral perils of history. Other remnants of a more sexual liberal
past were, to protect them from the same fate, stored away in dark cabinets and dusty archives. Many key items have been lost causing difficulties for researchers like Perrottet who study the sexual history of Europe. Howard Howgego also discusses an individual who had to deal with Victorian censorship. The famous 19th century explorer and translator Richard Francis Burton became a victim of Victorian uptightness and sexual narrow mindedness. He experienced both the advances of the era - on his travels he made use of all the wonderful new ways of transportation - but also the prudishness. His uncensored translation of The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night, also known as Arabian Nights, was branded “pornographic” and subsequently banned. Trying to defend his work, Burton challenged assumptions about English sexual innocence and decorum, referring to the ruder passages in Shakespeare, Swift and Sterne, to draw attention to England’s historically unfounded definition of obscenity. His attempts to
show that English and Arab sexual customs were not always so different did not have the impact he had hoped; the ban wasn’t repealed until a decade after the book’s publication. After Burton’s death, his wife, who wanted to protect her husband’s reputation, burned manuscripts which contained ‘course’ material. She knew all too well that many authors who were as open minded and sexually liberal, as her husband had been, were arrested and even imprisoned. She didn’t want her late husband’s name to be smeared by his opponents. In many ways women were also victims of Victorian prudishness. In her article, Kirsten Semenkewitz discusses the historical journey of the female body and the objectivity of medical sciences. In the 19th century, women were generally prohibited from obtaining scientific training and disappeared from the medical community. Midwifery became nearly extinct. Consequently, male doctors bound by social propriety often delivered babies “without looking between the mother’s legs”. Although (middle and upper class)
women in this era were mostly seen as delicate child-making machines who werenâ€™t fit for rigorous action, the Victorian era was also one of (slow) social progress for women. In his thesis overview, Andrew Humphries explores the meaning of transport in the novels of D.H. Lawrence. He views transport as the point of negotiation for is-
sues relating to cultural and social transition. Humphries discusses how Lawrenceâ€™s work confronts shifts in gender space and power in a rapidly industrializing world in which transport first enhances male mobility at the expense of female space, before framing journeys of female liberation and empowerment. The Victorian era officially ended when the queen died in 1901, but attitudes did not change as quickly. When looking at freedom of travel and repressiveness, the start of the First World War, the topic of Kasper van Duijnâ€™s article - Belgium war refugees, was in many ways a break from Victorian times. Under the influence of the rise of nationalism, travelling became much harder. Passports, visa and other travel documents became more important and made moving from one place to the other more regulated. At the same time, the moral repressiveness wanes during and after the war; Victorian attitudes are replaced with a sense of freedom, prosperity and modernity which are features of the period now known as the roaring twenties.
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A Great Sense of Journeying Transport and Cultural Transition in the Novels of D. H. Lawrence
A Thesis overview By: Andrew F. Humphries
his study of D.H. Lawrenceâ€™s fiction in relation to a period of rapid transport modernization and cultural dislocation is an approach to repositioning his work through a new socio-historical, or to be more exact, techno-historical lens. It roots his often highly idiosyncratic observations of human interaction more firmly within the context of
a his awareness of the impact of modernity and technological change. I will aim here to give a sense of the argument of the thesis and my approach to transport in each novel and conclude with an example of the way in which I have integrated the use of transport to explore contextual themes for one novel in particular.
Transport in this period and in Lawrence’s major novels is very much a cultural statement. Lawrence recognized his era, between 1885 and 1930, as one of accelerated motion and cultural upheaval. His major novels integrate transport as a symbol of the cultural shifts of the period that his protagonists must negotiate. The study of transport in Lawrence’s major novels—the recurrence of motor-cars, trams, boats and trains in particular, in which significant encounters take place or moments of transience or realization recorded— places Lawrence as central to his time and presents him as a writer whose awareness of the interrelationship between human and technological development in the early decades of the twentieth-century is searching and significant. My main focus was on the major novels Sons and Lovers (1913), The Rainbow (1915), Women in Love (1920), The Plumed Serpent (1926) and Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) which provide evidence of Lawrence’s consistent involvement in his narratives of transport or transport allusion to explore the relation-
ship between individual travel and cultural transition. In Lawrence’s major novels transport represents his ontological dialogue with the world he lived and travelled in. It shows that Lawrence was as much interested in the realism of transport—its workings, its connections and its technological affiliations to a twentieth-century culture becoming more mechanical and scientific—as he was versatile in the use of transport to enhance his theme. Transport privileges the sense of human life as a journey and as a motion of vital flow. For Lawrence, it seems, transport is more than an instrumental function but an essence of life that reflects the inner journey which encourages spiritual and cultural exploration. His major novels make transport journeys central to life’s most urgent questions about identity and survival. Transport is engaged to reflect not only Lawrence’s own sense of his ongoing journey but also to reflect significant cultural movements of the time related to gender, race, war, and health. Whereas in Sons and Lovers this reflec-
the struggle to fight free of the stasis that war inflicts upon both transport freedom and personal travel. In The Plumed Serpent Lawrence moves beyond the impact of war, to see transport regain its agency of travel through encounter with cultural otherness. In Lady Chatterley’s Lover transport shifts to become largely negative, mechanical and in opposition to the positive culture of organic regeneration and vulnerable human tenderness that the novel prioritizes. Lady Chatterley’s Lover also reflects how Lawrence’s own ill health increasingly made transport problematic in the final years of his life. Transport and Historic Change
tion is about the impact of industrial society upon individual aspiration, in The Rainbow it becomes part of Lawrence’s exploration of female dissent against established male structures. In Women in Love Lawrence positions transport as paradoxically both a deadly and transcendental agent in
While transport was a technological development it was also a movement for change that integrated with how people related, lived and thought in Lawrence’s time. Linking travel with the emergence of modernism, Helen Carr relates how by 1890—five years after Lawrence’s birth— transport had become integral to cultural movement
and inextricably tied to societal and global infrastructures: Railroads criss-crossed Europe and beyond and, as liners grew faster and more luxurious, steamship companies produced a crop of shipping millionaires. Increasing ‘ease of locomotion’ was not, however, simply the product of disinterested technological advance, and those on the move not only bands of tourists. Improvements in transport were fanned by, and helped to fan, the empire building, trade expansion and mass migrations of the late nineteenth century.1 Lawrence’s major novels reflect this integration of transport and change. In these novels, transport infuses the narrative exploration of place, society, gender and cultural otherness but also positions the protagonists in relation to wider cultural movements like industry, technology, Empire, and war. 1 Helen Carr. ‘Modernism and Travel 1880-1950.’ Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing. Ed. Peter Hulme and Tim Youngs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002,pp 70-86.
As part of the discussion of Lawrence’s works my thesis draws upon sources contemporary to Lawrence’s lifetime— including the work of artists like The Futurists, and philosophers such as Henri Bergson and Martin Heidegger. It also relates Lawrence’s representations of transport to historical studies which indicate where Lawrence’s representation reflects or confronts prevailing cultural trends. In its very public symbolism and instrumentalism, transport in Lawrence juxtaposes the individual journey with societal or cultural movement. This juxtaposition is particularly evident in Lawrence’s response to the paintings in the Etruscan tombs which he visited in April 1927: Fascinating are the scenes of departure, journeying in covered wagons drawn by two or more horses, accompanied by the driver on foot and friend on horseback, and dogs, and met by other horsemen coming down the road. Under the arched tarpaulin tilt of the wagon reclines a man, or a woman, or a whole family: and all moves forward along the highway with wonderful
Mormons, from one land to another.2 The synthesis of Lawrence’s interest in transport as a place of cultural encounter with his conviction that it carries the spiritual renewal of the individual soul, even beyond death, articulates a key feature of his novels from Sons and Lovers onwards. Transport, War and Sexual Mobility
slow surge….This is surely the journey of the soul. It is said to represent even the funeral procession, the ash-chest being borne away to the cemetery, to be laid in the tomb. But the memory in the scene seems much deeper than that. It gives so strongly the feeling of a people who have trekked in wagons, like the Boers, or the
Transport as the point of negotiation for issues relating to cultural transition forms the central focus of my approach to each of the novels discussed. Sons and Lovers and The Rainbow, for example, confront shifts in gender space and power in a rapidly industrializing world in which transport, as the extension of industrial patriarchy, first enhances male mobility at the expense of female space, then, in The Rainbow, enframes journeys of female liberation and empowerment. In Sons and Lovers the 2 D H Lawrence ‘Volterra’ Sketches of Etruscan Places  and Other Italian Essays. Ed. Paul Eggert. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. 15772.
privilege of male mobility in Paul Morel is explored through transport episodes that reveal the impact of an aggressive industrial culture upon male aspiration and the imprisoning consequences of that culture for women’s mobility against a background of suffragette dissent. Transport in The Rainbow reflects cultural change across three generations from 1840 until the First World War and engages the female aspiration for greater mobility in the male world. The particular focus in this novel is upon Ursula Brangwen whose emergence in the final third of the novel from child to woman coincides with the rapid urbanization and mechanization of transport during the period 1885 and 1905. Lawrence shows how this environment impacts upon the pace of social interaction and relationship, first through Ursula’s electric tram rides as a novice teacher, then from her embattled school classroom and afterwards in the course of her turbulent relationship with the army engineer Anton Skrebensky. Her development into adulthood coincides with an acceleration of transport as part of the
growing mechanical and industrial networks of the male industrial and imperial culture that Anton embodies and which she finally rejects. Ursula reappears as one of four protagonists in the next novel Women in Love, written between 1916 and 1919, which explores the war subtexts in a ‘civilized’ society in which transport is co-opted to fulfill or represent what Lawrence at this time saw as the apocalyptic and destructive desires of European society. It traces transport as a metaphorical and literal force that expresses a cultural shift of peacetime transport towards wartime combative intent, reflected, in fact, in the actual conversion of trains, motorized vehicles, trams and horses as well as ocean liners to meet the immediate demands of First World War mobilization. Focusing particularly on metaphorical representations of war and, in particular, of naval conflict, the discussion also explores Lawrence’s use of transport in the relationship between Ursula Brangwen and Rupert Birkin to express transcendent possibilities in opposition to the spirit of war and nega-
tion that the Gerald Crich-Gudrun Brangwen relationship exposes. From Cultural Otherness to Dystopian Vision In The Plumed Serpent Lawrence places transport at the center of encounter with otherness and cultural difference. The novel epitomizes, through Kate Leslie’s lifechanging journey, the tension between the invasive materialism of the modern technological world represented by America and the desire for cultural revision that is at the heart of post-revolutionary Mexico and intersects, problematically, with Kate’s tourist-traveller quest to belong. Transport becomes, in one sense, the iconic symbol of revolution and dictatorship and in another the dissentient counterforce to such oppressions with its links to natural landscape and indigenous history. The representation of boat journeys in opposition to motor-car rides or militaristic train invasions, for example, establishes a tension in the novel between motions of primitive belonging
and the mechanics of modern and materialist imperialism. Such a tension invites postcolonial considerations but also repositions Lawrence’s fictional use of transport in the mid-1920s to serve as something essentially numinous that enframes movements of cultural change but also explores the uncharted territory between material and spiritual worlds. Lawrence returns ‘home’ with his final novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover where transport is positioned less as the enframer of cultural exploration than as a hegemonous alien power associated, paradoxically, with both post-war disability and futuristic and mechanical anti-human solutions. Transport becomes, it is argued, part of a pervasive and powerful mechanical dystopia that is part of the mobilizing post-war world. This modernist force is alienated, ultimately, by the novel’s focus on the organic-regenerative love that is Constance Chatterley and Oliver Mellors’s culturally-redemptive force at the novel’s centre. Instead of enframing human mobility and destiny, transport in this novel, perhaps anticipating the
dehumanizing utilization of machines and vehicles by the Nazis only a decade after Lawrence’s death, threatens to oppress human naturalness, instinct and survival. Transport is an invader. Mellors nightmare world is represented by the noise of grow-
ing industrial traffic from Stacks Gate colliery just beyond his woodland retreat at Wragby. This mechanical transport demon invades paradise, however, in the guise of the disabled Sir Clifford Chatterley’s motorized bath chair that tramples the bluebells under its wheels. Through a close examination of the motor-car as a focus for automotive mobility in the novel, the chapter looks in particular at Clifford’s motorized chair as a symbolic car and Connie’s car ride to Uthwaite as a journey of enlightenment and, finally, at Hilda Reid, Connie’s sister, as a female car-driver whose position at the wheel provokes Lawrencian concerns about gender role and sexual dislocation. Disability and post-human considerations position transport in Lady Chatterley’s Lover as a force that is powerful but culturally disabling. Modern transport becomes a symbol of the disabling forces of modern society masquerading as progress but destroying human essence and relationship in a world crippled emotionally by the impact of the First World War. Lawrence presents a dislocation in
post-war England that he witnessed firsthand. The division between the fast modernizing world that transport epitomizes and the idealized pre-technological world of rurality in Wragby wood is also the central tension of Lawrence’s essay ‘Return to Bestwood, written after his return from Italy to Derbyshire just after the General Strike of 1926. One passage in particular is worth consideration for a transport-countryside duality that becomes central to Lawrence’s final novel: “And there is still a certain glamour about the countryside. Curiously enough, the more motor-cars and tram-cars and omnibuses there are rampaging down the roads, the more the country retreats into its own isolation, and becomes more mysteriously accessible. …The roads are hard and metalled and worn with everlasting rush. …And yet the fields and the woods in between the roads and paths sleep as in a heavy, weary dream, disconnected from the modern world.”3 3 D H Lawrence ‘Return to Bestwood.’ Phoenix II: Uncollected, Unpublished and Other Prose Works by D
Gender, Sex and the Motor-car in Lady Chatterley’s Lover A brief focus on a section of my approach to Lady Chatterley’s Lover gives a sense of how transport is applied to discussions of narrative interest in my thesis. Towards the end of the novel Constance Chatterley and the gamekeeper Oliver Mellors have spent the Spring making love secretly in Wragby wood and now in July Connie is planning to leave her disabled war veteran husband, Sir Clifford Chatterley, to live with Mellors. The intrigue involves a mode of transport both convenient and mistrusted by Lawrence: the motor car. Connie’s divorcee elder sister Hilda Reid is driving down from Scotland to collect Connie, to drive her to Venice for a holiday to recover her health but also, with the impotent Sir Clifford’s blessing, to find a suitable male to provide her with an heir to the Wragby estate. The disapproving Hilda reluctantly agrees to aid Connie’s final tryst with MelH Lawrence. Ed. Warren Roberts and Harry T Moore. London: Heineman, 1968, pp 257-66.
lors by driving her to the wood to meet him and return the next morning to collect her sister from the gamekeeper’s cottage. As Hilda returns with the car to the edge of the wood to take Connie on her journey, Hilda’s vexation about lost time contrasts with Connie’s face ‘running with tears’ as she climbs into the passenger seat. Hilda insists Connie put on the ‘motoring helmet with the disfiguring goggles’ and the ‘long motoring coat’ as Connie reenters the world wearing a ‘disguise’—in contrast to the honest nakedness of her love for Mellors in the wood.4 Connie’s apparel assimilates her into car culture as if to accentuate her ‘betrayal’ of Mellors and his world. She becomes a ‘goggling, inhuman, unrecognizable creature’ whose disguise reconnects her with the machine-human world of Clifford which she has been attempting to escape (252). 4 D H Lawrence. Lady Chatterley’s Lover  and A Propos of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover.’. Ed. Michael Squires. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, pp 251-2. All subsequent quotation from the novel indicated by parenthetical references in the text.
For Connie, leaving Mellors is sudden and ‘like death’ (252). The car ‘heave[s] out of the lane’ as if the effort to pull away expresses this horrendous moment for Connie. Her grief is opposed in mood by Hilda’s more objective ‘business-like motion’ as she starts the car (252). Tenderness and mechanism—opposite poles of the novel— are personified in the sisters as they drive away, encapsulated in their contrary sense of automobility—Hilda socially mobile, Connie humanly centered. In this, however, Lawrence has exaggerated the social trend to favour Mellors’ stance. Hilda’s impressiveness and Mellors’ resistance to it might be put in better context if one considers how motorcars in the 1920s symbolized woman’s commonality as autonomous travelers. Women were no longer simply passengers. They dressed to show that mobility was their autonomous right. The historian Virginia Scharff indicates that, ‘whether a sedate housewife or a high-spirited jazz baby, the woman motorist of the twenties announced with her very clothing that she took mobility for
granted’ (135). In Lady Chatterley’s Lover, however, Lawrence is also concerned about an insidious cultural sickness whereby society becomes unable to recognize the disfiguring impact of technology upon human behavior. In this light, at that moment, Connie’s disfiguring outfit and goggles threaten to implicate her in a wider cultural sickness that distorts gender and draws her away from Mellors and Wragby wood’s regenerative power. For Mellors, at least, the natural female and the modern woman cannot coincide. The Historian L K J Setright comments about early motoring fashions that ‘some ladies, anxious to preserve a complexion that did not really belong outdoors, would adopt a kid-lined full-face mask of leather. They and others might keep their eyes protected from the dust by a talc or mica visor incorporated in the veil; others, like their menfolk, adopted goggles. Early cartoons, posters, and anti-motoring propaganda, made much of the anonymity offered by these goggles to present their ferocious and faceless wearers as devilish unworldly fiends terrorizing
the highway—an allegation that was not often true, but often enough.’5 When Hilda insists that Connie wear the clothing of mechanical travel and rushes her off to the jazzy metropolises of Europe, Connie’s womanhood is, Lawrence implies, temporarily disabled.
5 L K J Setright Drive On! A Social History of the Motor Car. London: Granta, 2002, p348.
On the trip through Europe to Venice, Connie’s awareness of the superficiality of the weary London and Paris metropolises strengthens her sense that she is motoring away from her center. This sense of social mobility desperately sought by the young people of the 1920s and represented in the fiction of F Scott Fitzgerald and Evelyn Waugh, among others, is challenged by Connie’s desire to be ‘still’ at Wragby and escape the ‘tourist performance of enjoying oneself’ with the ‘swarming holidaying lot’, the ‘joy hogs’ and the ‘riff-raffing expensive people’ (Lady 256). The distinction between stillness and frantic but superficial traveling is central to Connie’s unease. She is also pregnant. This gives her future some sense of fixity which her sister’s car-driven perpetual motion at this point contradicts. Transport and the fastmoving transport world of social opportunity contradicts the centeredness of human relationship and potency of Connie’s pregnancy, as well asher love for Mellors. Mellors is more explicit about this opposition to the impotency of the human
machine against the potency of organic woman. In Chapter 15 he tells Connie that the working people’s obsession with money has taken the “‘spunk’” to leave them “‘all little twiddling machines”’ (217). Transport becomes a central target of his attack as ‘“motor-cars, cinemas and aeroplanes suck the last bit”’ out of a “‘generation… with indiarubber tubing for guts and tin legs and tin faces”’ (217). The human subjection to the machine extends to love and sex, for Mellors, who asserts that “‘what is cunt but machine-fucking!—It’s all alike. Pay ‘em money to cut off the world’s cock”’ (217). The sex act for this generation, suggests Mellors, is not distinct from their riding of motors or motor-bikes. It has no recognizable humanity and contrasts with Connie and Mellors’ lovemaking. Sex for the modern world, Mellors suggests, is part of a collective mechanical urge rather than the distinct individual human rite of passage and tenderness enacted by the lovers in the wood at Wragby. Lawrence’s distinction in his major novels between moments where transport enhances human life and
moments where human life is reduced to the mechanical is a recurrent and important one. In Lady Chatterley’s Lover the overwhelming presence of mass transport over individual travel is indicative of the modernization Lawrence encountered on his visits to post-war England between 1924 and 1926. Transport as Spiritual Metaphor: the Journey Beyond Illness and Death Transport was integral to Lawrence’s own life as one of necessary motion. Lawrence looked to transport to renew his vital connection with the world. He told his friend Mabel Luhan, in a letter on 19 December 1928, that he had become ‘a bit unstuck from the world altogether’—a likely euphemism for the impact his debilitating illness had on his travel—and he waited ‘to see what breeze the gods will blow into our sails, to start us on a new move.’6 Motion 6 The Letters of D H Lawrence, Volume VII: 1928-30. Ed. Keith Sagar and James T Boulton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 199, p203.
and health become synonymous. While he invested transport in his novels with the mythic power to transform static life situations, his own transport during his final years was problematic. Illness put his ideals of transport as a spiritual agent of renewal under increasing strain. His letters between 1928 and 1930 dwelt frequently upon the difficulty of travel as if this difficulty reduced Lawrence, physically and spiritually, as illustrated in this letter to Mabel Dodge Luhan on 2 March 1929: It’s no good, I really don’t think I’m well enough, with this cough, to come to America and stand the racket of journeys and seeing people. It makes me very mad. I am better—I am really quite well and quite myself so long as I stay fairly quiet. But as soon as I begin taking journeys, even going to Toulon and doing a bit of shopping and running round, I feel rather rotten and cough more. …Some connection with the current world broke in me two years ago, and now I have to be different. I feel my inside energy just about the same. It’s my outside energy I can’t manage. And so I’m
afraid of the long journey and all the people—and possible unpleasantnesses with authorities or public. The distinction between ‘outside energy’ and ‘inside energy’ reflects ambivalence in Lawrence’s major novels about transport experience as a reflection of the inner journey. It was important for Lawrence, finally, that the inner journey continued in spite of the frailties of the dying frame. The Etruscan tombs showed Lawrence that death was not a termination but a process that perpetuated the ritual passages of life. This is concretely expressed through transport by the Etruscan tombs that Lawrence visited just as it is in the final lines of his poem The Ship of Death (1929), when the poet urges ‘Oh build your ship of death, oh build it! /for you will need it. / For the voyage of oblivion awaits you’.7 The boat symbolizes the intangible ‘oblivion’ and makes it real. In Lawrence’s novels transport is called upon to give body to the intangible or the ab7 D. H, Lawrence: The Complete Poems. Ed. Vivian de Sola Pinto and Warren Roberts. London: Penguin, 1977; reprinted 1994, pp 106-07.
stract, as Birkin and Gerald’s conversation in the train to London in Women in Love or Kate Leslie’s spiritual boat journeys in The Plumed Serpent reveal. Death was the final transport Lawrence confronted when he finally succumbed to that most immobilizing of illness, tuberculosis, in March of 1930 after more than a decade of living in motion. His transition from this world to the next, which he prefigures in his poem The Ship of Death, seems to crystallize a transport dynamic that emerges through his major novels: the search for the synthesis of physical and spiritual travel as the essence of human development and cultural survival. Transport, for Lawrence, must extend beyond a mechanical instrumentality that imprisons the soul and must begin to enframe and motivate the vital flow of life towards new encounters. The philosopher Henri Bergson’s definition of mobility reveals that Lawrence’s positioning of transport as a force for cultural transition was integral to a world after 1900, predicated upon flux rather than stability: There is a reality that is external and
Lawrence’s positioning of transport as a force for cultural transition was integral to a world after 1900 yet given immediately to the mind…This reality is mobility. Not things made, but things in the making, not self-maintaining states, but only changing states, exist. Rest is never more than apparent, or, rather, relative. The consciousness we have of our own self in its continual flux introduces us to the interior of a reality, on the model of which we must represent other realities. All
reality, therefore, is a tendency, if we agree to mean by tendency an incipient change of direction. 8 This sense of a culture necessarily in flux is crucial, also, to Lawrence. It is this view of the world that positions transport as a central agent of mobility and change. While Bergson portrays transition as a cultural norm rather than a disruption, Martin Heidegger, in his positioning of technology in the modern world as a form of ‘enframing,’ also clarifies, it seems, the challenge that transport poses in Lawrence’s novels: Enframing means the way of revealing that holds sway in the essence of modern technology and that is itself nothing technological. On the other hand, all those things that are so familiar to us and are standard parts of assembly, such as rods, pistons, and chassis, belong to the technological. The assembly itself, however, together with the aforementioned stockparts, fall within the sphere of technological activity. Such activity always merely responds to the chal8 Henri Bergson. Introducing Metaphysics. 1903. Trans. F L Pogson. London: Alibron. 2005, pp 49-50.
lenge of enframing, but it never comprises enframing itself or brings it about.9 Heidegger’s distinction between the lifeless and the living technological frame comes close to the way Lawrence’s protagonists use transport in his major novels to enhance or problematize the ontological questions posed by the world around them as part of an ongoing journey. Rather than remain merely technological, transport must enframe the protagonist’s quest for the essence of life. In this quest for greater understanding about the human condition and about human relationships in a world of flux and dislocation, Lawrence’s novels explore transport’s growing impact upon early twentieth-century life as a central yet ambivalent dynamic of cultural transition.
9 Martin Heidegger ‘The Question Concerning Technology’. Basic Writings: Martin Heidegger. Ed. David Farrel Krell. London and New York: Routledge, 1993, pp 311-41.
ANDREW HUMPHRIES has a PhD in English from University of Kent and an MA from Cambridge University and is a Senior Lecturer in English and Education at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK. He lives in Kent with his wife Caroline and two children Gemma and Daniel. He is co-editor with Adrienne E. Gavin of the award-winning Childhood in Edwardian Fiction: Worlds Enough and Time (Palgrave 2009)and is currently working with Adrienne Gavin on a forthcoming edition entitled Transport in British Fiction: Technologies of Movement, 1840-1940. His main area of research is the work of D. H. Lawrence but also more generally in early twentieth century literature, modernism and technology, as well as representations of childhood in literature. He has recently had essays published on H. G. Wells, E. M. Forster and the teenage fiction American writer, Robert Cormier.
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THE FEMALE BODY A HISTORICAL JOURNEY BY: KIRSTEN SEMENKEWITZ
ebates about women’s bodies evade consistency or resolution. Recently in America, abortion opposition resulted in the passing of a bill that requires women in the 23 states to have a pre-abortion ultrasound and wait for at least 24 hours before the procedure can take place. Many abortion supporters and feminists have argued that this is a case of agency and that no governmental body ormedical community composed of mostly men should have a say over women’s bodies. But is this a new narrative? Have women always been removed from the discussion of their bodies and policies that affect them? How did the discussion of women’s bodies enter the public dialogue in the first place? Sociologists argue that humans operate within communities that have established social hierarchies and maintain them through education and social policies, including within science. Scientists aim to be objective; without the distortion of biased perception, in order to provide univer sal answers to our greatest questions. But
tscience and medicine are practiced by socialized humans influenced by the cultural values they are raised with. A Clitoris: the Female Form of a Penis? Prior to the 18th Century, the conception of the female body generally followed that the anatomy and functions of a woman were those of an inverted male; that women were simply imperfect, seemingly undeveloped humans. Anatomical labels that would later be made distinct between the sexes were shared prior to the 18th Century, such as describing both the scrotum and uterus as a “purse” and that the clitoris is the female form of a penis: “it will stand and fall as the yard doth and makes women lustful and take delight in copulation.”1 Prior to 1740, the “standard studies of the human skeleton by Vesalius and Bidloo had been of the male”2 The perspective that prior to the Enlightenment, Europeans saw female 1 Laqueur, Thomas, Making Sex: Body and Gender From The Greeks To Freud, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1990, pp 65 2 Schiebinger, Londa, Nature’s Body: Gender in The Making Of Modern Science, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1993, pp 34
and male bodies as generally the same, is called the “One Sex Model” by historian Thomas Laqueur in his book Making Sex; Body and Gender from The Greeks To Freud. Indeed, it was commonly believed (despite much disagreement, the belief endured) that women conceived only if they achieved orgasm, similar to a male (making rape claims falsified if the woman conceived as a result)3 This lack of distinction in regard to the body could be seen as the foundations of a more egalitarian society in which women were seen as equals of men but looking at the lives of Renaissance women, in which they were barred from the public realm and relegated to ideals of femininity (being gentle, passive, beautiful, motherly), would suggest otherwise. Instead, Laqueur describes the “One Sex Model” as a power dynamic: “In a public world that was overwhelmingly male, the one sex model displayed what was already massively evident 3 Laqueur, Thomas, Making Sex: Body and Gender From The Greeks To Freud, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1990, pp 65
Prior to the Enlightenment, Europeans saw female and male bodies as generally the same in culture more generally: man is the measure of all things, and woman does not exist as an ontologically distinct category.”4 This power dynamic played out in the Renaissance superstition that men, if they spent too much time with women or attempted to emulate them in any way, would become women. For pre-Enlightenment gender conceptions, gendering existed on the social and spiritual countenance and not yet in the skeletal structure nor necessarily on the genetic level. As a result of this fear of gender instability, crimes to punish gen4 Laqueur, Thomas, Making Sex: Body and Gender From The Greeks To Freud, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1990, pp 62
der bending were particularly harsh; those found doing so were sometimes burned at the stake.5 Laqueur argues that “the modern question, about the ‘real’ sex of a person, made no sense in this period” in that “there was but one sex whose more perfect exemplars were easily deemed males at birth and whose decidedly less perfect ones were labeled female”.6 Treatment of those born with ambiguous genitalia (who we would now call intersex individuals) was likewise reflective of this one sex model in that, when the individual took a gender identity they were described as having their gendered nature “prevail”7; that is to imply that within existed both and a battle could ensue, instead of the modern conception of having “found” their “true” gender. With the advent of the Enlightenment, essentialist notions of the sexed and gendered body would take prevalence and sexual identity would go from existing on a spectrum to two distinct and separate catego5 Ibid pp 138 6 Ibid, pp 124 7 Ibid pp 138
ries that Enlightenment scientists went to great lengths to define. The Enlightenment As The Epoch: The Anatomic Division of The Sexes The Enlightenment, with the likes of John Lock and Voltaire, focused human obsession away from the superstitious and spiritual towards the physical, observable and empirically engaging human. Science, the study of the natural world, was the vehicle by which humans were to obtain this enlightenment by embracing a conception of natural order and logicwhile rejecting superstitions. The rise of scientific legitimacy necessitated the establishment of standardization in regards to the human body. For example, if doctors had a conception of the normative, ideally healthy human, they could measure and gradiate variation against it to determine normal vs. abnormal; healthy vs. unhealthy. From this undoubtedly benevolent cause to heal the world’s ailments and discover truth came the rise of anatomical representation. Human skeletons had been drawn prior to
the Enlightenment but had generally depicted the skeletons of males as “human skeletons”8 without distinct drawings of female skeletons. For example, William 8 Schiebinger, Londa, Nature’s Body: Gender in The Making Of Modern Science, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1993, pp 34
Cheselden published his “The Anatomy of The Humane Body” in 1713 without an illustration of a female skeleton9. In 1733 another edition of it included a female skeleton modeled after the Venus of Medici’s proportions10. The pose was altered from the traditional “pudeca” position; “turning her head and placing her left arm out to the side…thus allowing for a better view of the pelvic bones”11. This reflects a general trend of Enlightenment anatomists, though attempting to represent the universal human, utilizing their own conceptions of the ideal to draw the “perfect” human. Two particular skeletal renderings became the most popular in the 18th Century; that of Marie Genevieve-Charlotte Thiroux d’Arconville in 1759 and Samuel Thomas von Soemmerring in 179612. D’Arconville’s female skeleton features a narrowed rib 9 Ibid 10 Schiebinger, Londa, Nature’s Body: Gender in The Making Of Modern Science, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1993, pp 34 11 Esaak, Shelly, Venus Pudeca, http://arthistory. about.com/cs/glossaries/g/v_venus_pudica.htm. 12 Schiebinger, Londa, Nature’s Body: Gender in The Making Of Modern Science, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1993, pp 36
cage, a skull drawn much smaller than that of the male skeletal predecessors and certainly than that of Soemmerring’s in addition to a emphasized pelvic region. Soemmerring’s was also not without objective flaws: “Soemmerring spent years perfecting his portrayal of the female skeleton…selected the skeleton of a 20-year old woman who had borne a child” and “checked his drawing against the classical statues of Venus Di Medici and Venus of Dresden to achieve a universal representation of woman”13It seems that Enlightenment anatomists saw no compromise to their objectivity in seeking their conceptions of an ideal; “Above all I was anxious to provide for myself the body of a woman that was suitable not only because of her youth and aptitude for procreation, but also because of the harmony of her limbs, beauty and elegance of the kind thatthe ancients used to ascribe to Venus”.14Though the efforts at accuracy were noble, relying on an artists’ depictions of a specimen to provide an “objective uni13 Ibid 14 Ibid, pp 38
versal” rendering of a specimen and then posing the model so that it emphasizes particular body parts is hardly the valueneutral effort we would hope that objective science would promote. An emphasis on “representing the body in its most beautiful and universal form”15 detracts greatly from the original intention of exactitude and precision. In the case of female skeletons, this meant emphasizing preconceived notions of what women were meant for; emphasizing the pelvic structure to reference child bearing abilities. “in colonial New England the average woman married before her 20th birthday and gave birth to about seven children.”16 De-emphasizing skull and therefore brain size (at the time brain size was linked to intelligence and scientific capability) as well as lung capacity (through depictions of the rib cage as being small) which was summed up best in a criticism of Soemmerring’s rendering of a feminine skeleton in which the critic felt the propor15 Ibid pp37 16 Collins, Gail, America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines, New York: HarperCollins, 2003, pp 57
tion of the ribs to the hips favored the ribs inaccurately “Women’s rib cage is much smaller than that shown by Soemmerrring, because it is well known that woman’s restricted lifestyle requires that they breathe less vigorously”. The same critic also felt Soemmerring had failed to properly emphasize the pelvic area to reflect womens’ child bearing abilities.17 However, this was a time of corseted fashion, not only affecting permanently the bodies of the models the renderings were based on but also on conceptions of what women were capable of physically. If women were prone to fainting spells (which they were) due to their corset with the addition of movement-restricting hooped skirts, it’s not hard to see why women were believed to be unfit for rigorous action and incapable of heavy breathing. However, this meant that anatomists failed in their aim of objectivity in that they not only reflected their image of contemporary women, they also reinforced limitations on them.
This would endure and culminate in the 19th Century when John Barclay, an Edinburgh anatomist, brought together a collection of the most reputed anatomical renderings including Bernhard Siegfried Albinus’ rendering of a male skeleton and d’Arconville’s female skeleton in 1829. In his “The Anatomy of the Bones of the Human Body” he included the Albinus, a male skeleton with a rendering of a horse skeleton next to it to reference the muscle strength, agility and power of the animal in the conceptions of the Enlightenment public. Next to the female skeleton he put the skeleton of an ostrich for its large pelvis, elongated neck (dresses at the time often featured a high neck collar). The ostrich depiction may have been referencing phrenology; a pseudo science coming into favor in the 1800’s would reveal an elongated neck as “emotiveness” or lack of passion18. Men’s conceptions, therefore, were socially jaded by social customs of the time which generally saw women as
17 Schiebinger, Londa, Nature’s Body: Gender in The Making Of Modern Science, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1993, pp 37
18 Laqueur, Thomas, Making Sex: Body and Gender From The Greeks To Freud, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1990, pp 168
delicate child making machines. As Londa Schiebinger states in Skeletons In The Closet; The First Female Skeleton, “women and blacks (not to mention other groups) had little opportunity to dispute the findings of scientists”19 and having internalized the values of the society they were brought up in, much the same as the white men responsible for these findings, they may not have disagreed, after all it was Marie d’Arconville who was responsible for one of the more injurious (by proportions and popularity) depictions of the female skeleton. With the differentiation of the sexed bodies also came a change in the language used to describe the anatomy; “ovary” would replace the pre-Enlightenment “female stone or testicle feminine.”20 The ever-enhancing distinctions being made about females and males lead to anatomical-based conclusions about the inferiority of women to the extent that some anato19 Schiebinger, Londa, Nature’s Body: Gender in The Making Of Modern Science, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1993, pp 40 20 Laqueur, Thomas, Making Sex: Body and Gender From The Greeks To Freud, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1990, pp 161
In The 17th Century, Anthony Van Leeuwenhoek Found A Tiny But Fully Formed Man Embodied In The Male Sperm mists asserted that women’s development had “been arrested at a lower stage of evolution” than that of white, European men21. Beliefs in social Darwinism dictated that white men were the definition of the human ideal, considered the most evolved with white women following after, black men following that and black women at the bottom (though conflicting views are drawn of other racial conceptions). This cyclical relationship of the scientific community 21 Schiebinger, Londa, Nature’s Body: Gender in The Making Of Modern Science, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1993, pp 40
studying with preconceived notions, effecting data to that end and then drawing conclusions based on it, would mean, in the case of women and their bodies, diminished agency by those being studied. When Anton van Leuwenhoek recorded the microscopic evidence that male ejaculate contained sperm in 1677, this would ease the fears that the discovery of the ovarian follicle that contained the human egg by de Graaf in 1672 would “detract much from the dignity of the Male sex”.22 Once again, male associated science could claim activity, and the narrative of all things feminine could once again assume a passive state of “the egg awaits the determined sperm”. With a better understanding of the actual functions of the egg and sperm yet to be discovered, biologists were left to apply any number of gendered adventures in which the egg lay dormant, awaiting the warrior sperm or in which a miniature baby sat being plumped up by its mother egg till father arrived home to release it 22 Laqueur, Thomas, Making Sex: Body and Gender From The Greeks To Freud, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1990, pp 171
(“animalculism”).23 Prior to the Enlightenment, the general consensus had been that women could only conceive if they achieved orgasm during conception. This medical belief had been generally claimed true till the Enlightenment with the social implication that women who had conceived from an incidence of rape would have their trials dismissed.24 As this belief lost favor and the medical community began to see womens’ pleasure as unnecessary to conception, so did the narrative of a woman’s body acting as a seminal vessel. The acceptance of this notion would result in women’s sexual role as being passive. This abandonment of the pursuit of the orgasm would also further the conception of women as the object to be pursued; as the holy vessel removed of sexual inebriation as such the man would be plagued by and incapable of controlling. Of course, if men were considered 23 Laqueur, Thomas, Making Sex: Body and Gender From The Greeks To Freud, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1990, pp 172-173 24 Collins, Gail, America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines, New York: HarperCollins, 2003, pp 58
victims of their sexual urges (and women were considered sexless wombs) the view that was developing saw women as equally victims of their reproductive systems. Since women were typically pregnant more often than not, the health norm for women came to be conceptualized as the time in which they were carrying children. The exceptions were seen as a time of bodily tumult. Doctors saw menstruation as either “an internal wound” or temporary madness; “women were deprived of blood to the brain, leaving them ‘idiotic’ or temporarily insane”.25 Menopause was likewise seen as a mala25 Ibid pp116
dy on the body and even more so on the mind because women were considered to have lost their identity as women. While prior to the Enlightenment, women gained a sense of citizenship and male privilege after menopause because their physical bodies had not been conceptualized as so different from men (menopause was seen as a simple turning-off of the reproductive system and the already male-similar female body became even more so), the Enlightenment saw women as being considered robbed of vitality; a loss of self which made sense since society saw them as little more than child bearers anyway. Women’s exclusion from scientific pursuits were reflected in the medical literature at the time. Text book writers, for those women lucky enough to actually be educated in the sciences, provided gendered, separate text books for women and their seemingly “delicate” sensibilities. For example, Francesco Algarotti provided a gendered take on Newton with his “Il Newtonianismo per la Dame” in Naples in 1737, while British text book publishers did the
same in 1739; “Sir Isaac Newton’s Philos phy Explained for the Use Of the Ladies”26 “Women Are Not Very Much Troubled By Sexual Feelings Of Any Kind” The Enlightenment emphasized liberty and fraternity and brought forth the question of whether women could be suitable for participation in revolution, such as the French were undertaking. Here there were definitive feminist arguments towards including women in the movement, but perhaps not in the terms we would use today, utilizing the rhetoric of women’s equality with men. Feminist arguments for women to be included in the French revolution referenced the distinction and “separate sphere” 27 women had been relegated to by the Two Sex Model: “Women as beings who are ‘little affected by sensuality’, ‘a species of angel’, ‘a purer race…destined to inspire in the rest of the human race the senti26 Hayden, Judy A., The New Science and Women’s Literary Discourse, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, pp54 27 Laqueur, Thomas, Making Sex: Body and Gender From The Greeks To Freud, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1990, pp 195
ments of all which is noble, generous and devoted.”28 Indeed, women became sexless angels of virtue to those of the early Victorian Era, like urologist William Acton who famously stated that “the majority of women (happily for them) are not very much troubled by sexual feelings of any kind.”29 From Revolution to An Internal, Lurking “Worm” All this meant, ultimately, that despite the virtues given to women as “separate but equal” from white men, women were deemed too inferior to receive the full rights and benefits of liberty, the implication was that they should enjoy the spoils of revolution via their husband. This visibility and the loudness of the message of liberty would help give fuel to the feminist movements of the day. Women, having been indoctrinated to believe they were different from men and having experienced that difference socially throughout their lives, drew on this as reason for their separate rights: those who 28 Ibid pp195 29 Ibid 197
would argue their similarity to men would have it pointed out that men could then continue to speak for them as they had. Recognizing and acknowledging this difference of experience meant that women had to speak against such treatment and had to do so as a collective unified group, identifying with the distinctions of their experiences against men’s (unfortunately, this unity was not often offered to their sisters of color). These feminist movements would originate from arguments of the distinctive experience of women, moving more towards the 21st century by which time the medical fields had advanced and feminism could address the claims that women were lesser forms of men and fight for legislative equality as well as social subversion. As feminist movements gained credence they addressed the biological distinctions between the sexes, challenged and asserted their sexualities, and expanded the definitions of women beyond merely virtuous wombs. But despite this, socially tainted medical beliefs persisted. The early post-Enlightenment also
marked an adjustment in the way doctors were conceptualizing menstruation and menopause that would have lasting effects. The “temporary madness” typified by Enlightenment period descriptions of menstruation gave way, like with most things in the 19th century, to dramatic rhetoric detailing menstruation as a “destructive” bodily act that reflected the turmoil women’s bodies were subject to if not pregnant: “The epi-
women had largely been barred from medical schools on the grounds that menstruation “made women too mentally unstable for such responsibilities. “ thelium is torn away at each period, leaving behind a ragged wreck of tissue, torn glands, ruptured vessels, jagged stroma, and masses of blood corpuscles, which it
would seem hardly possible to heal satisfactorily without the aid of surgical treatment”30. While other descriptions may have been less dramatic, generally the medical community held the view that menstruation was the failure of a woman’s body to do what it was essentially defined by: producing children. Indeed, women when not producing children were now being conceptualized as diseased in their natural monthly cycle: “of these facts of morbid psychology, are very significant; they emphasize the fact that even in the healthiest woman a worm however harmless and unperceived, gnaws periodically at the roots of life”31. By the wane of the Enlightenment the social implications of sexual differentiation and the Two Sex Model were bearing results: women were so thoroughly removed from the medical community in the 1800’s that “female physician” specifically referred to abortion doctors operating illegal-
30 Laqueur, Thomas, Making Sex: Body and Gender From The Greeks To Freud, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1990, pp 31 31 Ibid pp31
ly32 and without qualification, since women had largely been barred from medical schools on the grounds that menstruation “made women too mentally unstable for such responsibilities.”33 In the mid 1800’s Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes admitted a woman to Harvard medical college only to
have undergraduates resist the move till he withdrew it; “we are not opposed to allow32 Collins, Gail, America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines, New York: HarperCollins, 2003, pp 129 33 Collins, Gail, America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines, New York: HarperCollins, 2003, pp 126
ing a woman her rights, but we do protest against her appearing in places where her presence is calculated to destroy our respect for the modesty and delicacy of her sex.”34 In England, the Medical Act of 1858 would further seal the death of midwifing when it required all new entrants to hold a degree and created a national register of
from colleges and universities prohibited them from receiving formal credentials and eventually in the 19th century, from obtaining scientific training, a critical factor in the eventual subordination of most healers by the 20th century” (Group and Roberta). Up till the 18th century, midwifery had been common-place in Europe and America.35
medical professionals. Midwives, informally trained, were obviously out as a result (Pringle 24). While women in Europe and America did establish their own schools such as the “London School of Medicine for Women” in 1874 and the Royal Free Hospital in 1876, the overwhelming status of women was to remain excluded from the medical community. The gradual but decisive effects of this are described well in “Nursing, Physician Control and The Medical Monopoly”; “The emergence of universities from the 13th century onward eventually gave physicians their base for authority, which they used to justify excluding women healers from practice. Women’s exclusion
The informal but highly developed practice of providing health assistance, especially to pregnant women (usually during childbirth) and generally by other women, had meant that women had a knowledge of general remedies, experiential knowledge of womens’ bodies and oral education practices that followed a communal network. Midwifery was by no means ideal and often followed dangerous archaic rituals aimed at health (much like any medical practices prior to the end of the Enlightenment), but it’s demise reflected the growing regulative medical industry and meant the effective exclusion of women from a. the medical community, b. womens’ knowledge about
34 Ibid pp 127
35 Schiebinger, Londa, Nature’s Body: Gender in The Making Of Modern Science, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1993, pp 90
their own bodies. Gail Collins reports in her book “America’s Women” that that “the number of doctors increased as fast as the population in the first half of the century” in colonial America and were almost exclusively men, this correlated sharply with the decline of midwives. For example, Philadelphia had 21 women listed their professions as “midwife” in 1815 and by 1824 merely six remained listed in the city directory.36 The advent of medical assistance by doctors was not necessarily an improvement, physicians often practiced bloodletting if a condition or complication should arise where as midwives believed in letting nature take its course37 additionally doctors (predominantly men) were bound by social propriety and therefore would often “deliver babies without looking between the mother’s legs.”38 This exclusion of women from the formally educated medical community would 36 Collins, Gail, America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines, New York: HarperCollins, 2003, pp 124 37 Ibid pp125 38 Ibid pp126
result in the medical treatment by women as cloistered in the home and within small, hidden businesses (in the case of abortion clinics, under the front of other business interests). Women Absent in Medical Community The hidden businesses were not only hiding dethroned midwives and women physicians of yester-year, they also provided the most taboo of health related services: contraception and abortion. Indeed, by the 19th Century and into the early 20th, advances in medical science coupled with growing consumerism in America meant new ways to perform old reproductive and contraceptive tricks. Medical quackery utilized the developing language of science to peddle both effective and ineffective treatments for all ranges of female “maladies” made too private by notions of modesty. Women and likewise- doctors, were taught that modesty must prevail in regards to some discussions of their health as well as doctor’s inspections of their bodies; “There are some problems so intimate that it is em-
barrassing to talk them over with a doctor as one feminine hygiene company, Dilex, puts it. In the 1930s, Dilex, a company peddling douche contraceptives, sold their products door to door. Women hired by Dilex were only required to have had door to door sales experience prior and would enter women’s homes by telling them they were nurses and delivering this pitch: “Good Morning. I am the Dilex Nurse, giving short talks on feminine hygiene. It will take only three minutes. Thank you, I will step in. Undoubtedly you have heard of many different methods of feminine hygiene, but I have come to tell you of THE DILEX METHOD, which is so much more simple and absolutely sure and harmless, and which EVERY woman is so eager to learn about and have without delay…At one time this was a very delicate subject to discuss but today with all our modern ideas, we look at this vital subject as one of the most important of all time…ABSOLUTE FEMININE PROTECTION is assured”39 Clearly, despite their “modern ideas” the matter was still “delicate” enough to avoid actually using the word “contraceptive”. Other contraceptive methods were equally as deceptive but often in regards to safety, for example “uni39 Fausto-Sterling, Anne, Myths Of Gender: Biological Theories About Women and Men, New York: BasicBooks, 1985, pp184
versal fit” diaphragms occasionally had to be “extracted with forceps” from a clients urethra after being marketed as safe for everyone by institutions claiming medical neutrality like The Medical Bureaus Of Information in America.40 Therefore, the expulsion of women from the medical scene not only meant that women still sought after medical advice from other women, due
to a sense of modesty against their typically male doctors, but that businesses could exploit their desperation for understanding and medical privacy by using women to peddle any number and quality of wares. Those wares and their qualities would range anywhere from effective to damaging, such as Ly sol, which was marketed both as a household cleaner and a contraceptive douche “whose pre-1953 formula contained cresol, a phenol compound reported in some cases to cause burning, inflammation and even death. By 1911 doctors had recorded 193 Lysol poisonings and five deaths from
male exclusion from the medical industry meant that “therapeutic” abortion, the only kind legal in America till the 1950’s, was the decision of panels of male doctors at
Therapeutic Abortion As if it weren’t enough that women were being genitally burned by Lysol, they were also being subjected to bureaucratic restraints of epic proportion when those erosive douche contraceptives failed. As the abortion debate continued the legacy of fe-
41 Tone, Andrea, Devices and Desires: A History Of Contraceptives in America, New York: Hill And Wang, A Division of Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2001, pp164
places like Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York where, even after an exhaustive decision making process, those who were approved were sterilized following the abortion: “The director of the obstetrical and gynecological service is chairman of the permanent abortion committee....No case is considered unless the staff ob-gyn desir ing to carry out the procedure presents affirmative letters from two consultants in
the medical field involved. Five copies of each letter must be filed at least forty-eight hours in advance of the meeting. The obgyn whose case it is and one of the two consultants who made the recommendations must make themselves available at the meeting for further information when desired. In addition, if the chairman feels that an expert from some other department would be helpful in arriving at a proper decision, this specialist is requested to attend as a non-voting member. This case is then carefully discussed and if any member of the five on the committee opposes therapeutic interruption, the procedure is disallowed.” 42 Thankfully, developments were on the horizon for women (not without some issues); after years of rallying by eugenicssympathizers and early feminists-alike, oral contraception was to arrive by the late 1950’s and once again, women’s bodies would be re-conceptualized. Gregory Goodwin Pincus would co-create the pill for 42 Solinger, Rickie, Abortion Wars: A Half Century of Struggle, California: University of California Press, 1998, 23
American markets but only after subjecting poverty-stricken Puerto Rican and Haitian women to test trials. When the women involved in the testing suffered side effects, Pincus ignored their complaints in a duel slight of racist misogyny “Most of them happen because women expect them to happen...I very much doubt that the nausea, etc. has anything to do with the tablets”. Of course, after its release and subsequent overwhelming popularity in America and the death of two young women in 1961 from pulmonary embolisms (blood clots) as well as growing blood clot accounts throughout the 1960’s, the FDA as well as several British medical agencies did investigative reports that confirmed what Pincus had tried to ignore; the pill in its high hormone dosage was unhealthy and even dangerous for women. By 1974 the low dose pill had risen to popularity and by 1988 the FDA pressured manufacturers to remove high-dose estrogen birth control pills from the market.43 43 Tone, Andrea, Devices and Desires: A History Of Contraceptives in America, New York: Hill And Wang, A Division of Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2001, pp247
The arrival of the pill, the rhetoric of liberation the pill would spark, and the way women would be enabled for sexual enjoyment throughout the 1960’s overshadowed the hallowed reality of women’s lack of power within the industry that was “liberating” them; women had been victimized by the test trials and side effects, the pill had been created and pushed by a male in a male dominated industry, and the pill had been designed for the woman’s usage, thus making her the guardian of sex and sexual restraint. Shrivelling Vaginas Chemical medicalization of women’s bodies would continue with the development and popularity of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) throughout the 1960’s and into present day. HRT would accompany the pill in characterizing the 20th century as the first time women could and generally would manipulate their natural processes. Twentieth century doctors characterized meno-
pause as a progression into death “the vagina begins to shrivel, the breasts atrophy, sexual desire disappears...Increased facial hair, deepening voice, obesity...coarsened features, enlargement of the clitoris, and gradual baldness...not really a man but no longer a functional woman.”44 With such a picture painted, it was no wonder that women sought out HRT with such vigor, especially when it was typically advertised as “eternal beauty and femininity, symptom-free menopause.”45 However, like the pill, HRT had medical dangers itself (such as an increased rate of uterine cancer) and was prescribed carelessly throughout the 1960’s into the 1970’s by doctors for patients who had no actual symptoms of discomfort but merely had transitioned into menopause. The 20th century brought the declaration of some doctors that meno-
pause is an “estrogen deficiency disease”46 and marks a shift in popular thinking about menopause and menstruation as diseases of the female body. Though, as we’ve seen, the two life changes were hardly seen as a party prior, the twentieth century took the past enduring value that women’s bodies were defined, characterized and ideal for reproduction above all and diagnosed the “barren” parts of life as diseases, things to be fixed, controlled and avoided/minimized. This rhetoric about women’s bodies and their “failure” to conceive (marking a narrative of infinitely potential, assumedly desirable pregnancy) had doctors describing womens’ periods in death-terms; “debris of the uterine lining, the result of necrosis or death of tissue”47. Descriptions of these processes took on a passive, wasteful and negative tone compared to the way men’s bodies were described as active, produc-
44 Tone, Andrea, Devices and Desires: A History Of Contraceptives in America, New York: Hill And Wang, A Division of Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2001, pp110 45 Davis, Dona, The Cultural Constructions of Menstruation, Menopause and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1995, pp67
46 Tone, Andrea, Devices and Desires: A History Of Contraceptives in America, New York: Hill And Wang, A Division of Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2001, pp112 47Martin, Emily, The Egg And The Sperm: How Science Has Constructed A Romance Based On Stereotypical Male-Female Roles, Chicago: The University Of Chicago Press, 1991, pp30
tive, positive; “Whereas the female sheds only a single gamete each month, the seminiferous tubules produce hundreds of millions of sperm each day.”48 Another description from a textbook called “Molecular Biology of The Cell” (1983) continues this narrative: “Oogenesis is wasteful...During the 40 or 50 years of a woman’s life, only 400 to 500 eggs will have been released... All the rest will have degenerated. It is still a mystery why so many eggs are formed only to die in the ovaries”, notice here the words “release” (to describe their realized potential) and “death” (to describe the fact that they do not become fertilized). As Emily Martin argues in The Egg and The Sperm, if it is wasteful of the female body to produce and then dispose of eggs, why is the same “wasteful” rhetoric not applied to sperm? If the sperm is characterized by movement, intention, action; “a mission, move through the female genital tract in quest of the ovum” and the egg is “the prize” as Jonathan Miller’s The Facts of 48 Ibid
Life describes and as the general rhetoric seems to go, can we feel sufficiently objective? Are we not applying a gendered narrative to things that exist outside of our socialized existence? If research has shown that the egg actually mutually absorbs the sperm and that, contrary to popular belief, the sperm does not create enough traction to forcibly penetrate the ovum but instead clings to it and works with it in absorption can we safely say we haven’t applied our own socialized, gendered understanding to science and likewise, women’s bodies? 49 Science is currently given the prestige, acceptance and absolution that religion and superstition enjoyed prior to the Age of Enlightenment in America and most European countries. My aim in discussing the history of women’s medical image was to question the certainty with which we place our faith in an industry that has been so heavily guided by the cultural perceptions 49 Martin, Emily, The Egg And The Sperm: How Science Has Constructed A Romance Based On Stereotypical Male-Female Roles, Chicago: The University Of Chicago Press, 1991, pp33
of those who study and receive it. The aim of scientists is objectivity above all but how can we expect and accept “objectivity” from the socialized humans who create it? I do not seek to ignore science’s many achievements but to simply question the irrefutability of these findings and to discuss the way scientific findings have been guided by social perceptions of the past. Though many assert that feminist movements and the advancement of science have left us with a better understanding of women and their biological distinctions, I’d like us to consider the possible magnification of those distinctions and whether they may or may not be as socially reflective as the once widely accepted view that women were incapable of much else beyond child birth. It also seems worth remembering the superstitions that still today permeate our social mindset; such as that women are necessarily irrational, emotional, delicate, devoid of the intensity of sexual desire that men assumedly possess. Are some of these rooted in our preconceived notions? Are some of them bread crumbs from our
historical collective journey? I think these are discussions worth entertaining towards the aim of true objectivity. In this discussion I’ve emphasized the narrative of women’s gradual loss of agency in science and it’s repercussions. However, it fails to recognize the efforts of the people who have continued to work, andwho did overcome exclusion and social restrictions. The discussion also implies the possibility of demonizing; men as a whole have not been consciously active in some
Science is currently given the prestige, acceptance and absolution that religion and superstition enjoyed prior to the Age of Enlightenment in America and most European countries.
dastardly plan but have,like women, been the offspring of social values and their justifications. Just as women have been essential in recreating some of these limitations, men have suffered oppressive gender restrictions as well. We need not neglect the struggles of both and all (nor create enemies) when we specifically look at one, in fact it can lend us better understanding in the particular ways oppression operates. Â Â
KIRSTEN SEMENKEWITZ studied Sociology at Hunter College. She currently manages a store and ruminates on the interactions of gender, race, age and class in modern society, occasionally posting items reflecting such on: http://ksemnk.wordpress.com/
‘Oorlogswee’ and ‘Landverhuizersellende’ Labour and migration during World War I Belgian refugees in the Netherlands A thesis overview By: Kasper van Duijn In 1916, the government commissioner J.P.A. Wilhelm was approached to write a history of Vluchtoord Uden, a refugee camp in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant, which was under his leadership. At that time, in this camp located not far from the Dutch-Belgian border, housed 7000 Bel-
gian refugees, who had fled their country which was occupied by the Germans. Describing their journey, Wilhelm writes: ‘Carrying belongings from their hometowns in Belgium and whatever they were given by private charity organisations or the Dutch government, large streams of refugees ar-
rived in the camp continuously’. He uses the following two words: ‘oorlogswee’ and ‘landverhuizersellende’, which roughly translated mean ‘misery caused by war’ and ‘misery caused by moving country’. This description of the war refugees’ faith is the starting point of this overview based on my thesis ‘Oorlogswee en Landverhuizersellende’. My research, which has a socio-economic nature, should be understood as a synthesis; discussing both the individual migrant’s experiences as well as the policy of the Dutch government regarding migrants as a whole. The Dutch government’s attitude regarding civilian refugees changed during the war and I was curious why it did. I looked for answers to questions such as: ‘How did the lives of these Belgian civilians change under influence of the war and their escape to the Netherlands?’ ‘What kind of impact did the presence of civilian refugees have on Dutch diplomacy and the country’s neutrality?’, ‘How did the Dutch government adjust its policies in a climate of continuously changing international circumstances?’. Hous-
ing and employment of Belgium refugees in Noord-Brabant between 1914-1918 is this research’s main focus and Vluchtoord Uden with its residents and leadership functions is a useful case study. PREFACE WWII has received a lot of attention, in Dutch history, while WWI, in my opinion, has been grossly overlooked. The debate about what kind of impact WWII had on Dutch society still continues, although people agree that the war entailed a huge change in Dutch foreign policies. The myth that the war [WWII] functioned as breaking point in Dutch history has a small core of truth. One of the clearest changes that took place under because of the war was in Dutch foreign politics. Before the war, the Netherlands was neutral and aloof, afterwards the country became an active member of the international community. (C. Van der Heijden in Grijs Verleden Nederland en de Tweede Wereldoorlog, 2001 p. 408)
This quote brings me to the core of my thesis which is: if the start of WWII was the end of a period in Dutch foreign policy, what was the beginning? Neutrality The Netherlands was a in many ways a second rate power which was under the impression that if it maintained a neutral position between great powers and their expansionism, Europe would remain stable. The start of WWI changed this somewhat delusional presumption. The German invasion of Belgium and the siege of Antwerp in the autumn of 1914 resulted in an enormous Belgian refugee stream to the Netherlands. At the height of the conflict the Netherlands was harbouring around a million refugees. By allowing these refugees to enter the country, the Netherlands also allowed the war to enter its borders. The tension between maintaining its neutral position whilst helping Belgian refugees is central to my research. Three preliminary observations form the backbone of this research. First, the inter-
action between the local, national and international situation regarding the reception and employment of Belgian refugees has been neglected in the existing historiography. Secondly, it was not just the country’s neutrality which dictated its policies, during WWI both Dutch neutrality and its refugee policies influenced each other. Lastly the Dutch government’s diplomacy had consequences on a local, regional and international level. The balance of power at the top of society as well as the daily lives of refugees at the bottom were impacted. In this context, when we look at WWI, there are roughly five different phases which I discuss in my thesis. PHASE ONE - ‘AD HOC’ POLICIES The first phase is relatively short and starts in August 1914 and ends in December of that same year. This period is heralded by the German invasion of Belgium and is characterised by the start of the refugee stream, which peaked in mid-October. During these months, international aid was welcomed, but the reception of refugees
was mainly left to privately organised committees. The main characteristic of this phase is that the refugee policy was not only ad hoc, but also very regional. Neutrality was interpreted as a strict impartiality, which, if necessary, would be defended using force. Both the German as well as the English borders (i.e. the Dutch coast) were guarded. This phase ends with a decrease in numbers of refugees and the beginning of a gentle pressure on refugees to return to their homeland. The housing of refugees in this phase can be charac-
terised as having a temporary nature. The government intervened when the number of refugees reached its peak around October 1914. At that time there were more than 500 private organisations involved in the reception of refugees. The government decided to connect these local organisations to regional and provincial committees which were coordinated by a national umbrella organisation called the Centraal Vluchtelingen Comité, which was founded by the minister of Interior on the 21st of September 1914. Its aim was to provide homes to Belgian refugees who did not return after the formal capitulation of Antwerp on the 10th of October which ended the siege of the city. PHASE TWO ‘CENTRALISATION’ The second phase starts in January 1915 and ends in October 1916. The number of refugees stabilises in this pe-
riod and the first more permanent shelters are being built in the Netherlands. Not all refugees settled permanently. Some used camps like Vluchtoord Uden as a temporarily place to stay until continuing their journey to England. In 1915 until early 1916 many refugees fled to England (or France) although we have to keep in mind that it was only possible for people of specific trades to move to England. A very strict selection procedure was put in place. After February 1915, with the start of unrestricted submarine warfare, the number of refugees who wanted to settle in England decreased significantly. During the war years, one million Belgians settled in the Netherlands, 200,000 in England and 250,000 in France. During this second phase there is a significant increase ininfluence of the Dutch (national) government on refugee policy. Unlike in phase one, when international assistance was still appreciated, in the period 1915-1916, Anglo-Saxon housing and employment aid in particular was reduced. Also it becomes clear that Dutch neutrality seemed to work to
the advantage of Germany, a position characterised by the term ‘aloofness’. Migration in Europe: Continuity or Discontinuity? When discussing migration and employment during WWI it is important to ask ourselves the question if, in hindsight, the war influenced national and international migration. Was there continuity or discontinuity when it comes to migration before, during and after the war? From the historiography of migration the conclusion can be drawn that a change took place in the early 20th century. From the mid 19th century in particular, many Europeans decided to migrate to Asia and the USA, a process which came to a standstill in the beginning of the 20th century. Strikwerda argues that migration in the previous two centuries took place in two waves both determined by economy and state. The rise of nationalism played a big role and made it much harder for people to move around freely. ‘Foreigners’ were no longer viewed as economic enrichment for a country, but
as a national threat. Strikwerda believes that WWI was the breaking point which brought an end to a long period of relatively easy migration. Passports, visa and other travel documents became more important and made travelling more regulated. ‘The First World War marks a decisive break in the history of migration as it does in world history. The war destroyed the international regime of the nineteenth century, while the nationalism and ideological conflict resulting from the war prevented any international regime from emerging.’1 The Dutch government was relatively late in their decision to interfere in the reception of Belgian refugees. Its reserved position is in line with the image of a nation with a tradition of tolerance towards migrants, where the reception of refugees was seen as a private rather than governmental responsibility. This attitude also fits into the liberal European migration policy of late 19th and early 20th century. A negative effect of this delayed response is the 1 Carl Strikwerda, ‘Reinterpreting the History of European Integration’ in: European Integration (Klausen and Tilly ed.) pp. 61-66.
fact that the Dutch government in many instances was overtaken by events, rather than being in control. Under the pressure of war the circumstances changed from day to day and the government found it hard to anticipate what was coming and respond appropriately. The local governments - both the private as well as collective relief efforts in the refugee camps - had a much greater impact on the refugees themselves. Comply or Rebel? Belgian refugees experienced difficulties travelling, especially when trying to cross over to England since it was hard to obtain all the necessary travel documents and work permits. The refugees went in several directions and moved within the Netherlands, from camp to camp. Some went back to Belgium and others moved abroad. Unmarried men between the age of 18 and 45 were, under Belgian law, subject to military service. Besides these men, 40.000 military refugees had also crossed the border. In conformity with the Peace treaty of The
Hague signed on the18th of October, 1907, the neutral nation of the Netherlands was obliged to disarm and intern every military man. Not all of them were disarmed and interned. About 7,000 soldiers dressed in civilian clothes were able to escape via Vlissingen to England and enrol again for military service there. Others who were selected (based on profession) to work in England were exempt from national service. Some refugees made use of the system in place, creating careers within a camp and doing well under the circumstances. Others went against the system and decided to take control of their own destiny. One possibility was leaving the refugee camp without permission of the government commissioner. Many people were sent from one camp to the other but never arrived. It is hard to find any details about these refugees who became ‘outlaws’. Many
who tried to cross over to England without permission were often unsuccessful, which resulted in a large number of refugees becoming marooned in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, where many ships would start off from. PHASE THREE - ‘INTERNATIONAL INTERFERENCE’ This phase in the Dutch government’s attitude towards migrants and the country’s neutrality runs from November 1916 until September 1917. This period is characterised by an increasing centralisation of the government’s refugee policy. In regard to neutrality, in this this is a period saw a significant change in policy. As a result of international pressure the Netherlands was forced to take a position on the issues surrounding Belgian refugees being conscripted to forced labour in Germany. In this period Dutch neutrality policy is increasingly characterised by mediation. The Dutch government had been persuading refugees to return to their homeland. Just after the defeat of Antwerp the Minis-
ter of Interior had written to each head of the twelve provinces; ‘Now the German supreme command allows Belgian refugees to return home, the time has come to encourage refugees to leave the country. I request that you to discuss the matter with the mayors in your province.” Some people were particularly stern, ministers by the names of Treub of Agriculture, Bosboom of Defence and Rambonnet of Maritime Affairs were of the opinion ‘If you give Germany an evasive answer in this matter, the immediate result will inevitably be our participation in the war.’ Pressuring refugees to go back, in particular the majority who had escaped Antwerp during the siege of the city, seemed very harsh considering the circumstances. The people of Antwerp had suffered significantly, the city was destroyed by heavy bombardments and although the army had surrendered and the city was officially occupied by the Germans, it wasn’t safe. Many
Belgians chose to leave the continent altogether. Beyond those that went to England, some refugees figured ‘the further the better’ and ended up in Ireland, Canada and the USA. The Canadian railroads and American agricultural organisations actively recruited Belgians. The southern settlement and development organisation tried to tempt people with a pretty good deal: A detached, furnished house, clean drinking water, live stock and land, a farm wouldn’t be more than three miles away from a school, church and station. Even agricultural education classes in the Dutch language were part of the deal. Unfortunately it isn’t clear how many people took up such offers. In the last years of the war, an increasing amount of Belgian citizens were
transported to Germany to do forced labour for the war industry. While the war progressed, troops got stuck in Northern France and young men who initially hadn’t been recruited into the army were sent to France, leaving factories empty. There are numerous and competing stories about the way these refugees were treated. Some reports claim that Belgium labourers were looked after, which according to these reports, showed how much they were needed. Other more reliable sources reveal the camps were awful and people had to work under inhumane circumstances. As a result of international pressure, the Dutch government felt obliged to take a stance and disapproved of the German treatment of Belgian citizens in these camps. This remarkable initiative indicates that the Dutch definition of its neutrality had changed again. It moved away from total aloofness to a more active position, taking a stance whenever it was deemed necessary. PHASE FOUR - ‘DECENTRALISATION’ The fourth phase covers the last year of
war, starting in October 1917 and ending with the German capitulation (and the Dutch granting of asylum for Kaiser Wilhelm II) in November 1918. In this period there was a significant decrease of the number of refugees and a similar decrease in government involvement. Those refugees who were still in the Netherlands were only assisted by local governments and basically had to fend for themselves. Finances and Neutrality As previously mentioned, besides several national governmental organisations that were concerned with refugees, there were also many private charities who defended the refugees’ interests. These organisations were part of a so-called social middle management and or ‘semi-governmental’ as they were private but had government approval and support. Some of the more active groups included; ‘Deensch Fonds (Danish Fund), which made generous donations and the London based ‘War Victims Relief Committee of the Society of Friends’, which was a Quaker organisa-
tion which focused on unemployment relief work. Scholars like De Roodt and Moeijes2 have discussed Dutch neutrality and foreign financial aid, but in my opinion both authors’ descriptions are incomplete. Moeijes, for example, writes: ‘The government made sure that international financial aid for refugees did not come from countries involved in the war. Donations were gratefully accepted from countries like the Dutch-East-Indies, America, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark, but when the British government offered
2 P. Moeijes, Buiten Schot: Nederland tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog: 1914-1918, Amsterdam 2001 & Evelyn de Roodt, ‘Het Nederlandse asielbeleid tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog’ in: Openbaar Bestuur 11 (2001) 16-20
practical and financial aid, the Dutch government kindly but firmly declined. After all, the Dutch didn’t want other nations to doubt its neutrality.’3 This isn’t entirely correct since large sums of money donated by England had acually been accepted, although the money was transferred to the Netherlands indirectly. This process went as follows; The National Committee for War Relief (i.e. the English government) collected both private as well as governmental money. These funds were consequently donated to the American Commission for War Relief. In return, this organisation, via the Christian Herald Fund, transferred the money to the Netherlands. Payback Time After the war, the Dutch government had the objective to recoup the expenses made while looking after Belgian refugees. It presented Belgium with a large bill (with interest). Despite the foreign financed refugee 3 P. Moeijes, Buiten Schot, p. 101.
relief effort, the Dutch government now sought compensation from the very people whose country had been destroyed. Based on the Dutch resolve to retrieve this money one can only conclude that the refugee relief had been a real financial burden for the Netherlands. In 1922 the Dutch government had already calculated 300,000 guilders4 (nearly 6% of the total) in interest over Belgium’s outstanding debt. We have to keep in mind that besides being destroyed during the war, the Belgiam franc, compared to the Dutch guilder, 4 In 1929 the Dutch government had estimated that it had spend 33 million guilders on the reception of refugees, 10 percent of which was paid for by foreign funds.
had suffered a massive devaluation. This meant that paying the Dutch would cost a few extra million more than calculated. Belgium responded by claiming Zuid-Limburg (south Limburg) and West-Vlaanderen during the Paris Peace conference in 1919. This claim and the financial demand from the Netherlands resulted in a very difficult relationship between Belgium and the Netherlands which would continue until the outbreak of WWII. Belgium refused to pay and kept on pointing out that the Dutch refusal to open up the river Schelde so English warships could assist the Belgian army during the siege of Antwerp, had been the final blow to the country. The Netherlands on the other hand emphasised the one million refugees it had taken in and the fact it was neutral so it wasn’t able to open up the water ways for the English fleet. PHASE FIVE - ‘INTERNATIONAL JUSTIFICATION AND ISOLATION’ The war had ended and in the period that followed, which is characterised by redistribution of territories, the Netherlands tried
its hardest to maintain its neutrality whilst legitimising a role in Europe. The country was left in a state of aloofness and lethargy. Revolutions didnâ€™t happen and the country was spared from dictators. The delusion of being untouchable, which first occurred in the 19th century, was strengthened during WWI continued until the 10th of May, 1940 when Germany invaded the Netherlands. The refugees had returned home and the camps located throughout the country closed down. The assistance of these refugees had cost the Netherlands millions of guilders. For four years the Dutch had tried to interpret their neutrality with the most strict impartiality. Export to those countries involved in the war was placed under legal restraint and clandestine trade was strictly monitored. Everything had seemed in vain, especially when in November 1918, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany was allowed to enter the country. Whether it was an accident or not, asylum was granted as soon as someone was let into the country and Wilhelm and his family moved into a small estate in Laren. After all the efforts made to
maintain its neutrality, all the strict measures by the Netherlands somehow fell short. Feelings of Guilt After the war, the Dutch were very happy to have escaped the conflict unscathed. Yet there was also a feeling of guilt about the fact that the Netherlands had remained so unaffected. The country had a hard time repositioning itself in the new Europe, resulting in an isolated position. This meant not just diplomatically but also when it comes to
In hindsight we can say that the start of WWI marks a moment of significant change from progressive to restrictive refugees; the countryâ€™s historical tolerance towards immigrants, which had always given it specific social and economical dynamism, came to an end. In hindsight we can say that the start of WWI marks a moment of a significant change from progressive to restrictive. This change contributed to a very different attitude towards immigrants. Whereas an immigrant had long been seen as a fully fledged member of society, a valuable asset for culture and economy, after the war immigrants were mainly seen as temporary guests or labourers.
EPILOGUE The Belgian refugees in the Netherlands had fled the war in their own country. Consequently they ended up in a country which was filled with contradictions. It was sympathetic and tolerant towards migrants, yet viewed them as nothing more than labourers. This contradiction is linked to the historical context of events. The Netherlands had to navigate diplomatically to maintain its neutrality but its refugee policies should also be understood as part of a wider change in attitudes towards migration and migrants which took place in the early twentieth century. Although they were viewed as temporary labourers, there arenâ€™t many examples of racist or xenophobic outburst towards the Belgian refugees. This relative tolerance towards refugees during WWI contrasts sharply with more recent attitudes. In 1914, because of its refugee camps, Uden had been on the covers of many newspapers. Eighty years later, this small town was yet again a hot topic. This time it wasnâ€™t praised for its wonderful humanitarian work and tolerance,
but because people had set fire to an Islamic elementary school. The fire bomb was said to be a â€˜retaliationâ€™ for the murder of the Dutch film director Theo van Gogh who was assassinated by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim. It is saddening that the biggest refugee stream that flooded the Netherlands in the 20th century caused less controversy than the relatively small number of migrants who have come to the Netherlands in the second part of this century.
KASPER VAN DUIJN is a Dutch contemporary historian. During his studies at the Free University in Amsterdam he specialized in European 20th century cultural & social economic history, with the comparisson of Dutch & Belgian society as a focal point. Besides this thesis he published about the collaboration of Dutch artists during the Second World war. He is also a poet, a muscisian & business consultant. Kasper lives north of Amsterdam together with his cat Lennox.
Richard Francis Burton
............ Not many people can be called a jack of all trades and a master of everything. Sir Richard Francis Burton (19 March 1821-20 October ), who was an explorer, translator, geographer, linguist, orientalist, cartographer and ethnologist, can easily be called just that. He is known for travelling in disguise to Mecca, leading expeditions into Central Africa to discover the sources of the Nile, as well as an uncensored translation of the Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night and his involvement in the English publication of the Kama Sutra. His life was one big journey, both physical as well as psychological. His views on colonial policies were critical and his writings on sex and sexual behaviour were deemed scandalous. He lived the life of a true adventurer, full of excitement and controversy. Raymond John Howgego, author of The Encyclopedia of Exploration, describes Burtonâ€™s life as an explorer.
RICHARD F. BURTON English Explorer, Scholar, Soldier and Diplomat (1821-1890)1 by Raymond John Howgego The Early years - A Nomadic Existence Burton was born in Torquay (UK), the son of Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Netterville Burton and Martha Baker, and spent the first few months of his life at Barham House, near Elstree, Hertfordshire - the residence of his maternal grandfather.2 Before Burton’s first birthday the family moved to Tours in France, but returned to England eight years later and settled in Richmond where Burton entered an obscure preparatory school run by Rev. Charles Delafosse. However, within a few months his father decided to move the family back to the 1 Full text: http://www.howgego.co.uk/explorers/ richard_francis_burton.htm 2 Burton maintained that he was born at Barham House, but the Elstree baptismal records give his place of birth as Torquay.
continent, eventually settling in Pisa, Italy. In the summer of 1832 they moved to Siena and for the next few years wandered throughout Italy, staying in Naples, Sorrento, Florence and Capua. In 1838 the family followed the father to Marseilles and then settled for a while in Pau. It was not long before the father’s restlessness brought the family back to Pisa. In 1840 Richard Burton was sent to England for his university education at Trinity College, Oxford, to prepare himself for a career as a clergyman. Quite unsuited and ill-prepared for life at Oxford, but enjoying its social life, in 1842 he was kicked out of college for attending a horse race. He then bribed himself into the East India Company Army as a second lieutenant in the 18th Regiment of the Bombay Native Infantry. After a crash course in Hindustani,and having taught himself a little Arabic, he sailed from Gravesend on the 18th of June 1842 aboard the “John Knox”, bound for India via the Cape of Good Hope. Burton’s Travels in India Burton arrived in Bombay (= Mumbai) in
October and was posted to Baroda, about 400 kilometres to the north, where he spent much of his time perfecting his knowledge of Hindustani and Arabic. On the 1st of January 1844 he was posted to the newly-conquered district of Sind, where the following December he was assigned as one of four assistants to the Sind Survey under the direction of Captain (later General) Walter Scott. After spending a few days mastering surveying, he was sent out with six camels and a team of men to survey the Guni river
and several canals. In November 1845 he set out with Captain Scott on a long tour of northern Sind, but upon reaching Larkana he was recalled to his regiment at Rohri to join a march on Multan, then held by the Sikhs. The regiment moved out but after two weeks it discovered that its help was no longer needed. Burton returned with his regiment to the headquarters at Mohammed Khan Ka Tanda on the Fulayli river. In July 1846 he contracted cholera and was given two yearsâ€™ sick leave to convalesce in the Nilgiri Hills of South Madras. On the 20th of February 1847 Burton boarded a small Indian craft for his journey to southern India and, after halting at Goa for a considerable time to study the old Portuguese monuments, reached his sanatorium in the Nilgiri Hills. There he remained for four months, studying the Dravidian languages and continuing his work on Arabic and Persian. He began a
study of Islam, memorizing 50,000 words of the Koran. He became strongly attracted to Sufism and was made a “Kamil” or Master Sufi, then studied the Sikh religion, into which he was initiated by an old priest. He frequently roamed the country in disguise and at one time fell seriously in love with a beautiful Persian girl of noble birth. By May 1848 he had passed examinations in six Indian languages and had become the first army officer to speak fluent Punjabi. His first published work, a translation of ‘Pilpay’s Fables’ from Hindustani, had appeared in 1847. In the following year he attempted to publish a report on pederasty in Karachi. Unfortunately, his seniors found the report pornographic and highly offensive, and certainly not something one would expect from an English army officer. Although allowed to remain in the army, all roads to future advancement were now blocked. Still weak from his bout of cholera, tormented by ophthalmia, and heartbroken that his career seemed to be at an end, Burton sailed from Bombay and returned to England. Back in England
Burton settled in England to begin his career as a writer, publishing three popular narratives of his travels in 1851. The following year, a major study of falconry in the Indus valley, proved less popular and in twentyfive years sold only 243 of the original 500 copies. His pamphlet “A Complete System of Bayonet Exercise” (1853) earned him a reprimand from the army but was later, after payment of one shilling for its copyright, adopted as an official text. In 1851 Burton moved to Boulogne where he met his future wife, the twenty-year-old Isabell Arundell. Burton soon grew tired of life in Europe and in the autumn of 1852 offered his services to the Royal Geographical Society to explore the unmapped regions of eastern and central Arabia. His proposal was that, disguised as a muslim pilgrim, he would cross Arabia, either directly or diagonally, visit the holy cities, and obtain information on the Rub al Khali, the vast area of sand desert in the southeast of the Arabian peninsula. However, having little interest in geography, his only real ambition was to enter Mecca and Medina and to this end
he fervently studied the narratives of those that had preceded him. After interviews with the Royal Geographical Society and the chairman of the East India Company, Burton was granted one year’s leave to study Arabic ‘in lands where the language is best learned’. A crossing of the Arabian peninsula was ruled out on the grounds that it was too dangerous. The Pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina In the spring of 1953, disguised as a Pathan (modern Pashtun) to account for any oddities in speech, and taking the name Mirza Abdullah, Burton boarded the steamer “Bengal” for Alexandria, taking with him his ‘English interpreter’, a Bengal Lancer named Captain Henry Grind-
lay. On arrival he went by donkey to the home of John Thurburn, the father-in-law of an old friend, where he prepared himself for the pilgrimage to Mecca. From there he took a Nile steamer to Cairo and a camel to Suez, before taking the passage on the dhow “Silk al-Zahab”, bound for Yenbo with 97 pilgrims. After several
of a pilgrim, but his money began to run out and, despite warnings of tribal unrest, resolved to return to Egypt via Jiddah. After a gruelling 17 hour camelback ride, he arrived at Jiddah were he made contact with the British vice-consul, Charles Cole. After secretly revealing his identity, he was permitted to cash a draft for money
adventures on board, Burton reached Yenbo in July and with his pilgrim friends bargained for camels to take him to Medina. In the evening, with a caravan of 12 camels, he set out into the desert, halting at Al Hamra where he joined a larger caravan on its way from Mecca to Medina. Burton remained a week in Medina before departing to Mecca with a Damascus caravan. Drawing close to the holy city, Burton and his companions performed the ceremony of “al-ihram”, shaving the head, bathing and donning the pilgrim’s clothes, and on the following
from the Royal Geographical Society. In late September he booked passage on the English ship “Dwarka” to Suez, and from there returned to Cairo. Burton then sailed for India to join his regiment in Bombay. He stayed at the house of James Grant Lumsden, a senior member of the Bombay Council, where he wrote his three-volume “Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah”, which was published in 1855-56. He also began work on “El Islam”, a major treatise on the subject, but the work was never completed and only fragments survived. Unwilling to return to the routine of regimental
morning he saw the Kaaba - the object of his mission and the symbol of his success- for the first time. He spent six days in Mecca, performing all the rituals expected
life, he now petitioned the directors of the East India Company for permission to visit northeast Africa, to travel in Somali country and visit the legendary walled city of Harar.
Through the influence of Lumsden the venture was immediately approved, with the provision that Burton should go at his own risk and without government protection. The Expedition to Harar For his expedition to Somalia, Burton selected three officers: Lieutenant William Stroyan of the Indian Navy whom Burton had worked with in Sind; Lieutenant G.E. Herne of the 1st Bombay European Infantry, a man skilled in photography and surveying; and Assistant Surgeon J.E. Stocks. The latter died of â€˜apoplexyâ€™ shortly before departure, but Burton, Stroyan and Herne sailed for Aden, arriving on the 1st of October 1854. At Aden, to fill the place left vacant by Stocks, a young lieutenant by the name of John Hanning Speke, was taken on. On the recommendation of James Outram, the British resident at Aden, Burton would proceed alone to Harar while his fellow officers would carry out geographical explorations nearer to the coast. Herne was sent to Berbera, joined in January 1855 by Stroyan, to assess the state of
commerce and the caravan routes, and to visit the coastal mountains, while Speke landed at Arz Al-Aman to explore the Wadi Nogal (Nugaal) which was reputed to be gold-bearing region.3 Burton, in Arab disguise, took a small steamer from Aden and landed at Zayla (now Saylac) and spent a month studying Somali customs and language. Leaving Zayla in late November with a party of nine, including two female cooks and five camels, he moved directly westward, passing through the village of Wilensi (Welensi) before entering the city of Harar in January 1955. An interview with Sultn Ahmad bin Abu Bakr, the Amir of Harar, went smoothly and Burton revealed his identity as an Englishman. In the city he was spied upon constantly, but during his ten days in Harar he learnt much from local scholars. Leaving Harar, Burton returned to Wilensi, where he spent a week writing up his notes, and via Berbera where Herne 3 Speke, after travelling a short distance through the mountains of northern Somalia, was forced to return to Aden in January 1855 due to the treachery of his guide.
and Stroyan were waiting for him. The three explorers arrived back in Aden on the 12th of February, Speke having returned a few weeks earlier. The River Nile Back in Aden, Burton now proposed a more ambitious expedition: a trek to the Nile from the Somali coast. Two months were spent in preparation, and in early April 1855 Burton, Speke, Herne and Stroyan returned to Berbera and set up camp outside the city. A couple of weeks later, after having survived an electrical storm which opened the Somali monsoon period, the camp came under severe attack by Somali tribesmen. Burton, Speke and Herne narrowly escaped with their lives, but Stroyan was killed by a spear through the heart. The proposed expedition was immediately abandoned and the three survivors, carrying Stroyan’s corpse, staggered into Berbera and took a ship to Aden. Stroyan, his body decomposing too rapidly for removal to Aden, was buried at sea. Burton returned to England in May and volunteered for service in the Crimean
War. By way of Marseille and Constantinople he arrived at Balaklava to be appointed chief of staff of a contingent of Turkish irregular cavalry. He remained in the Crimea until the end of the war in February 1856. Returning from the Crimean War in February 1856, Burton immediately began reviving plans for an expedition to move overland from the east coast of Africa to the Nile. By April he had resolved not just to reach the Nile, but to go in search of its source, believing it to lie in one of the great lakes in the heart of Central Africa. However, on the advice of the German explorer Heinrich Barth, Burton decided not to commit himself to the discovery of the Nile’s source, instead volunteering to seek the ‘Sea of Ujiji’ (i.e. Lake Tanganyika) which had been reported by Arab traders. The Royal Geographical Society approved the project, the government granted £1000, and the East India Company gave Burton two years’ leave on full pay. Burton selected Speke to accompany him on the expedition and together with two Goan boys, they sailed from Bombay to Zanzibar arriving
74 Burton’s Arabian Nights and the First Public Literary Debate about Pornography1 By Elke Weesjes
on the 20th of December 1956. The Pangani River Excursion After a prolonged delay in Zanzibar, during which Burton gathered intelligence about conditions on the mainland, Burton, Speke, the two Goan boys and a small company of Africans, sailed on to Pemba and then to Mombasa. From there, Burton and Speke visited the mission of the traveller Johannes Rebmann at Rabai, who declined their offer to accompany the expedition. After a week in Mombasa they moved down the coast to Tanga, then Pangani, and ascended the Pangani river to Chogwe and marched overland to Tongwe, a village to the north of the river. Reaching Korogwe they marched along the banks of the Ruvu river to Fuga, but arrived there in mid-February just as the rainy season was setting in. This minor excursion, which had no apparent objective and accomplished little except to bring Burton and Speke down with fever and dysentery, was abandoned in Fuga. After recovering in Zanzibar, they set out on a coastal expedition to collect information on
Burton together with his partner Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot, founded the Kama Shastra Society around 1882. It was set forth as a secretive, educational society and published many written works, largely of erotic yet scholarly content of Oriental descent, including a translation of the Kama Sutra and Burton’s translation of The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night, as well as Supplemental Nights - both commonly known as the Arabian Nights (1885-1887). Their goal, they claimed, was to remove the scales from the eyes of Englishmen who are interested in Oriental literature. The collections of Arabic tales which had been circulating in the West since the eighteenth century, had long been known about and many editions had preceded Burton’s translation. Before Burton’s, three other important editions were published: Edward Lane’s censored translations, Thomas 1 Based on Colette Colligan, ‘’Esoteric Pornography’ : Sir Richard Burton’s Arabian Nights and the Origins of Pornography in: Victorian Review Vol. 28, No. 2 (2002), pp. 31-64
certain subjects of special interest to the secretary of the Bombay Geographical Society: the coastal limestone formations and the existence of copal, which was used in making varnishes and lacquers. The Discovery of Lake Tanganyika In June 1857, Burton and Speke left Zanzibar to begin their search for the ‘Sea of Ujiji’. They landed at Kaol (just south of Bagamoyo), engaged 36 Unyamwezi natives and bought 30 baggage donkeys, onto which they loaded vast quantities of scientific instruments, stationery, weapons, ammunition, tool boxes, articles of trade and gifts of friendship. The journey was not easy by any means; plagued by foul weather, desertions, difficulties controlling the caravan, and illness. Burton and Speke were almost too weak to continue, but pressed forward into the Usagara Hills. Via the plains of Ugogo they arrived in Tabora, regaining their strength and enjoying the hospitality of the Arabs. Soon after, during the final stage of their journey, Burton was struck down with a
Dalziel’s illustrated edition and John Payne’s complete and scholarly translation. Collette Colligan author of an article on Arabian Nights titled ‘Esoteric Pornography’, explains why Burton’s edition caused outrage in the English literary community. ‘Like Payne’s translation, Burton’s was a plain and literal one, yet shockingly different from all previous English translations. The language was lurid and coarse and the style estranging with it Spenserian archaism and awkward literalism. Long familiar tales from the nursery and school room like that of Baghdad Porter, now included awful scenes of sexual violence.’ According to Colligan, it was in his footnotes that Burton’s translation especially set itself apart from other translations. These footnotes offered a ‘panorama of Eastern life’ that incorporated strange anthropological observations on Arab sexual practices such as bestiality, sodomy, eunuchism, clitoridectomy and miscegenation.’ An infamous example of these commentaries is his note on Arab women’s lust for black men: honest Hindi Moslem would take his womenfolk to Zanzibar on account of the huge attractions and enormous temptations there are there-
sickness that paralysed his arms and legs and brought him close to death, and a week later Speke fell prey to an eye infection which rendered him almost totally blind. Both had to be carried for much of the way by their porters, but neither gave any thought to abandoning the expedition. After a journey of seven and a half months, they finally entered Ujiji on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. Burton’s first concern was to procure a boat to explore the lake, but when none could be had locally, Speke was sent across the lake by canoe to obtain a dhow from an Arab trader. His trip was gruelling, Speke was in poor physical condition, the side of his face distorted by a tumour which made him almost deaf and made chewing impossible. Nevertheless, he had gained important intelligence about a large river that flowed northward out of the lake. Burton and Speke decided to set out in two canoes and further explore the lake. They arrived at Uvira, 30 kilometres from the mouth of the important Ruzizi river, no escort could be found to take them to it, all feared the
by offered to them. A fierce public literary debate about pornography emerged after the publication of Burton’s Arabian Nights. Colligan notes that this collection of Arabic tales already possessed exotic and sexual appeal in England before Burton’s translation, but his translation emphasised its Arab origin and sexual content. ‘With its focus on the sordid sexuality of the Arabs, Burton’s translation was estranging to the English reader who was used to chastened tales of tender English orientalism. In effect, he defamiliarised the Arab text that had been virtually adopted by English culture as its own.’ His translation violently disrupted the English cultural representation of the Arabian Nights to such an extent that is was branded “pornographic”. Because of its impact, his translation is a creative production that tells us more about English sexual preoccupations than it does about Arab sexuality. And most importantly, it shows how the literary and cultural concept of pornography emerged with the expansions of travel, empire and globalization.
ferocious tribes that lived along its banks. Burton and Speke had no choice except to return to Ujiji. No attempt was made to explore the southern section of the lake, with the result that Burton severely underestimated its length at 400 kilometres, nearly 250 kilometres short of its true size. Speke’s Discovery of Lake Victoria Burton and Speke left Ujiji on the 28th of May and made their way back to Tabora. On the outward journey they had heard reports of another great lake, called Ukerewe (now Lake Victoria), which lay to the north of Tabora, and after some discussion it was decided that Speke should make his way alone to the north to investigate the rumours.Speke departed Tabora heading directly north with 20 porters and a guard of ten Beluchi. Crossing Unyambewa country, the expedition proceeded without incident, reaching the village of Ukuni mid June, beyond which the landscape became greener and the going easier. Not much later he caught first sight of Lake Ukerewe, and for the next two days made his way down a
Shift From Sexuality to Race Burton must have been very aware of the English cultural investment in the Arabian Nights, since his foreword to the first volumes also anticipates a public outcry. Colligan points out that even before the controversy over his translation, Burton defended his translation’s turpiloquium (the term pornography was only introduced much later into the discussion) to pre-empt the nationalist uproar over his transformation of the surrogate English classic. Burton begins his foreword by defending the sexual content of his work on the grounds of cultural difference, suggesting that Arabs are more straightforward than the English and juxtaposing Arab sexual honesty with European sexual hypocrisy. Furthermore, with his observation that English sexual prudery is a “nineteenth-century” refinement”, Burton challenges assumptions about English sexual innocence and decorum. To conclude his defence he also refers to the ruder passages in Shakespeare, Swift and Sterne, to draw attention to England’s historically unfounded definition of obscenity and to suggest that English and Arab sexual customs were not always so different. His foreword did not prevent the
small creek which suddenly broadened into a vast archipelago. When climbing to the top of a hill near Muanza (Mwanza), he saw the vast expanse of the lake, which extended in all directions as far as the eye could see. The following day, from the top of what he named Observatory Hill, he took careful bearings of the major topographical features. Neither of the local sultans could supply boats or, fearing the savageness of the lakeside tribes, assist in the exploration of the lake, and no intelligence could be gained of the extent of the lake to the north. After three days near the lake, Speke set out for Tabora and without incident arrived back with Burton. Speke and Burton had already grown tired of each others’ company, but Speke’s discovery now strained the relationship almost to breaking point. While Burton lounged in the comfort of his Arab friends talking about Lake Ukerewe, Speke had actually been there and discovered it. Speke’s suggestion that they should return to the lake together was unacceptable, effectively placing Burton in a subordinate
book from being classified as contentious and it was censored for more than a decade. However in the twentieth century, Burton and his translation were viewed in a much different way and the book was finally recognised as an English classic. Colligan ends her article with a very interesting observation. She notes that most recently, interest in Burton has shifted from this focus on him as a man of letters to his role as an explorer and a racist. ‘The current English interest in Burton has shifted from sexuality to race – a move that is signalled rhetorically by the critic who implies that racism is today’s pornography.’ [..] ‘Amid this current focus on Burton’s role as explorer and racial theorist one should not overlook the important role he played in late nineteenth century sexual discourse.
role, and, more significantly, both men now harboured ambitions to be the first to discover the source of the Nile. Re-engaging their guides and hiring 132 porters, Speke and Burton left Tabora early September for the march to the coast. Two weeks later, Speke was struck down by another illness, but he recovered. When the expedition arrived on the coast at the village of Konduchi, about 15 kilometres north of modern Dar es Salaam, Burton sent a note to the British consul asking for a coasting vessel and provisions so that a brief exploration could be made of the hitherto unexplored Rufiji river, some 150 kilometres to the south. The boat arrived in February 1859, and the following day Burton and Speke sailed for Kilwa Kisiwani. En route they stopped at Kwale and Mafia islands, but found the Rufiji swollen and flooded by torrential rain. Even worse, Kilwa was in grip of a cholera epidemic which had already wiped out half the population. After inspecting nearby Portuguese and Arab ruins, Burton and Speke made a hasty retreat to Zanzibar, arriving only to find that cholera
speke had become a national hero, while burton was all but forgotten
was sweeping that island too. Burton and Speke sailed for Aden but returned separately to London. Burton arrived 13 days after Speke, only to find that his discovery of Lake Tanganyika had already been overshadowed by an unsupported announcement that Speke had discovered the source of the Nile. Speke had become a national hero, while Burton was all but forgotten. In April 1860, Speke and his companion James Grant left for Africa to carry out a more thorough investigation of Lake Victoria, and in the same month Burton left England for a vacation tour of North America.
Fernando Po and the Adjacent Coasts Burton now sought a diplomatic position, particularly that of consul in Damascus. His requests were declined, but as compensation he was offered a consulship on the island of Fernando Po (now Bioco and part of Equatorial Guinea). Despite its reputation as the ‘graveyard of consuls’4, Burton accepted the post and sailed on the 24th of August 1861. Stopping at no less than 24 West African ports en route, the voyage took over a month but gave Burton plenty of opportunity to take notes. Arriving at Fernando Po, he lingered no more than a week before embarking on several short excursions to visit the Niger delta, Cameroon and Nigeria. In November 1861 he went on yet another excursion, visiting the coasts opposite Fernando Po and, in the company of a young botanist, Gustav Mann, explored the Cameroon Mountains, naming three peaks Mt Isabel, Mt Selim and Mt Milnes. Over the next year Burton, who intensely disliked Fernando Po, took 4 The region under its jurisdiction included the highly malarial coasts around the Bight of Biafra
every opportunity to visit the mainland. He sailed for Gabon to look for gorillas, before boarding a 20-ton schooner to ascend the Gabon river in search of the Fan people who were believed to be cannibals. He spent a week with the Fan, concluded that their cannibalism was something of a myth, and returned to the coast. On occasions he would slip away on a merchant ship to meet his wife, Isabel5, in the Canary 5 Isabel Burton (1831-96) was born in London, the eldest daughter of eleven children of Henry Raymond Arundell, a wine merchant, and Eliza (née Gerard). The family had moved to Furze Hall, Ingatestone, Essex, where Isabel had been educated until the age of sixteen at the Convent of the Canonesses at New Hall, Chelmsford. Like her future husband she longed for adventure and the outdoor life, and often mingled with local gypsies. She first met and fell in love with Richard Burton in 1852 but for the next nine years had to be content with letters and the occasional meeting. The couple were finally married, against the wishes of Isabel’s mother, in January 1861. For the next four years the couple met only when Burton returned to England, or when they could holiday together in the Canary Islands. Isabel’s first more distant excursion came in 1865 when she was able to join her husband in Brazil. She subsequently accompanied her husband to Damascus and Trieste, and followed him to Egypt. After her husband’s death in 1890, condemned by Burton’s family for burying her husband as a Catholic, and reviled by the public and press for burning his papers (see text box), she lived in reduced economic circumstances in Baker Street, London. She died of cancer in March 1896.
Islands. Even so, Isabel’s misery and loneliness resulted in an appeal to the Foreign Office that Burton should be recalled, and by December 1862 he was back in England.
position for her husband. Her pleas for a higher post, such as ambassador to Turkey or Morocco were turned down, but as a compromise the Foreign Office appointed Burton consul at Santos, in Brazil.
The Mission to Dahomey Burton, whose term at Fernando Po was not over yet, received news that he had been
Travels in South America
appointed Her Majesty’s Commissioner to Dahomey (now Benin). He arrived in the Dahomean capital, Abomey, on the 20th of December 1963. He quickly mastered the language and made study of Gelele’s army (the King of Dahomey), which consisted of 2500 women soldiers. However, his attempts to explore the country were restricted by Gelele who kept his guests as virtual prisoners. Burton remained in Abomey only until February 1864 when he escaped to Ouidah where he boarded a waiting warship, toured the coastal rivers and returned to Fernando Po. In August 1864 he left his consulate for home leave in England where Isabel had been pressing the Foreign Office for a better
ton sailed for Portugal on the first stage of his voyage to South America. After a brief tour of the country they parted company at Lisbon, Richard boarding HMS “Serpent” for Brazil and Isabel returning to England to finalise affairs in London. After a few weeks she took a ship and followed her husband to Brazil. Despite having been ordered to Santos, the Burtons soon travelled to São Paulo where they rented and redecorated an old convent. During 1866 the Burton’s remained mainly around Santos with occasional visits to Rio de Janeiro, but in June 1867 they left Rio for a threemonth tour of Minas Gerais. Together they visited the gold mining districts and descended the deepest mine in the province. While Isabel returned to Rio after sprain-
In May 1856 accompanied by his wife, Bur-
82 Isabel Burton and the Burning of Manuscripts1 By: Elke Weesjes Isabel Arundell was her husband’s editor, collaborator, travel partner and most vehement advocate. During his life she promoted his writing, defended his oft-besmirched reputation and successfully campaigned to make him knighted. However after Richard’s death, Isabel came under fire for burning all of his diaries, manuscripts letters and papers. Mary S. Lovell, who wrote a wonderful thorough biography of Richard and Isabel called A Rage to Live, attempts to dispel many of the myths that have emerged around the pair of famous Victorians. Writing the book, her biggest problem was caused, not by a lack of, but by the overwhelming amount of surviving material. ‘Based on the number of collections both private and institutional throughout the world containing Burton’s papers prove that such burning as took place was neither so complete, nor the mindless act, of which she has been so often accused’, according to Lovell. 1 Based on: Mary S. Lovell, A Rage to Live - A Biography of Isabel and Richard Burton , New York: W.W Norton Company Inc., 2000
ing her ankle, Richard made a 2000-kilometre descent of the Rio São Francisco by raft. A serious illness, contracted in April 1868 and diagnosed as ‘congestion of the liver combined with inflammation of the lung, where they join’, forced Burton’s temporary resignation from the consular service but, instead of returning to England, he set out to observe the killing-fields of the bitter and bloody Paraguayan War. Not long after returning from Paraguay, Burton set out with his friend, William Constable Maxwell, to explore northern Argentina. This journey is one of the few not recorded in any of Burton’s publications and only the barest outlines can be pieced together. They visited Córdoba and explored the virtually unknown Sierra de San Luiz and visited the scene of the terrible earthquake that had virtually destroyed the town of Mendoza in 1861. Around 1868 Burton and Maxwell then crossed the Andes, through the Upsallata Pass into Chile, and rested in Santiago. From there they continued to Valparaíso where they boarded a ship to Lima, Peru. There, in February
BIOGRAPHY Isabel wanted specific unpublished and unfinished manuscripts destroyed for the simple reason that she did not want other people, who might not understand her husband, to finish them. It was the same reason behind Isabel’s choice to burn his diaries and letters. She didn’t want anyone else to write Richard’s biography. Isabel herself published The Life of Sir Richard F.Burton in 1893 (two volumes London: Chapman and Hall). Lovel justifies Isabel’s obsession with protecting Richard’s name, which she essentially did by destroying any publications which contained ‘course’ material, by pointing out what happened to Richard Burton’s contemporaries who fell afoul of the Obscene Publications Act. Havelock Ellis, for example, is famous for writing the seven volume Studies in the Psychology of Sex (1897– 1928). Publication of the first volume about homosexuality resulted in a trial during which the judge called claims for the book’s scientific value “a pretence, adopted for the purpose of selling a filthy publication.” Other volumes of the work were published in the United States and until 1935 were legally available only to those in the medical profession. Around
1869, Burton unexpectedly received the news that, through the efforts of Isabel, he had been appointed to the consular post at Damascus. Boarding the first ship available, he immediately returned to Buenos Aires to despatch a letter to London accepting the post. However, rather than returning directly to London, Burton took the extraordinary decision to revisit the battlefields of Paraguay. Damascus, Iceland and India Revisited After a recuperative holiday with his wife in France who he hadn’t seen for eleven months, Burton went to Brindisi to take ship for Beirut, arriving there on the 1st of October 1869. Two days later he took up his consulship in Damascus where he was joined by Isabel at the end of the month. For the next 18 months he travelled widely in Syria and Palestine, but his actions, particularly an alleged attempt to raise the Druze into revolt against Turkish rule, brought critical letters to London from the Turkish government. In August 1871 he was removed from office and spent the next year in Eng-
the same time, in 1895, Oscar Wilde was accused of being a sodomite and was sentenced to two years hard labour, and the publisher -H.S Nichols - was arrested and charged with producing hard-core pornography in 1898. Although she understands Isabel’s motivations to burn certain parts of Richard’s paper legacy, Lovell regrets the fact that the Burtons’ diaries were destroyed. Still she notes that this was fairly typical for the time. ‘Most historians could provide a list off the top of their heads of important diaries which perished in the same manner; Queen Victoria’s daughter, for example produced a book from her mother’s journals before burning them. [..] It is important to remember that in respect of other materials about Burton the documentation that has survived constitutes almost an embarrassment of riches.’2 As Lovell experienced herself, new documents about or by Burton are still being found in archives and private collections all over the world, giving more insights into the life of Burton and his wife. And as long as new material is uncovered, the Burton saga will continue.
land. In May 1872, on behalf of a private sulphur-mining company, he set out for Iceland. Burton spent only three months in Iceland but accumulated enough information to fill a 794-page book on the island. In September 1872 he received a somewhat less sensitive position as British consul at Trieste, which he occupied until the end of 1875. Burton’s Explorations in the Land of Midian About this time, Burton became increasingly interested in a story he had heard from Haji Wali, an old friend from the Mecca pilgrimage. Wali had maintained that he had once found gold in a wadi on the eastern shores of the Red Sea in the land known in ancient times as Midian. During his few days in Egypt in May 1876, Burton tried to seek out Haji Wali but, being unsuccessful, returned to England. Burton had requested an audience with the khedive, Ismail I, to develop his interest in Midian gold. It was only in March 1877 that the khedive eventually responded, by which
time Burton was on a tour of Austria. He decided to sail from Triese to Egypt, confident that after a personal conference with the khedive he would be able to start on an expedition. In Cairo, Burton actually managed to locate Haji Wali, now an old man of eighty-two, and after some deliberation the khedive gave his blessing to the venture. Three Egyptian officers and a French mining engineer joined the expedition, as well as a steamer named “Sinnar”. The expedition spent three weeks on the northeastern coasts of the Red Sea, but after such a long period (24 years) Haji Wali was not at all certain precisely where he had found gold. Although the country was found to be rich in other metals, and a little gold was found on the Jebel al Abyab, the expedition was a failure. Burton returned to Cairo with boxes of stone and gravel, none of which contained much gold, but his arrival was overshadowed by the confusion which had followed Russia’s declaration of war on Turkey. Burton remained in Egypt before returning to Trieste.
After wandering restlessly through
After wandering restlessly through southern Europe, Burton sailed from Trieste on for a second expedition to Midian in October 1877 southern Europe, Burton sailed from Trieste on for a second expedition to Midian in October 1877. The khedive had now run seriously short of money to pay his officers and civil servants, and he looked to Burton’s enterprise as a means towards replenishing the coffers. After some delay, Burton, accompanied by a hundred men, sailed from Suez, disembarked at El Muwailih nine days later, and trekked inland
to Jebel al Abyab. 30 quarrymen collected a ton of stone, brought it back to the coast, crushed and washed it, but found no gold. In January 1878 the expedition moved into new territory looking for other minerals, venturing into Al Hisma, behind the coastal mountains, but conflict with local tribesmen caused the party to retreat to the coast. On the 29th of March with a caravan of 58 camels, the expedition set out for Umm Harb, and at a place called Umm el Karayat, and discovered caves which Burton was convinced were ancient gold mines. The six tons of rock extracted by the expedition were taken to Cairo by special train and an exhibition of the results of the enterprise was displayed in Cairo. A report of the geographical discoveries were presented to the khedive, and in July 1878 Burton who had been joined by his wife, returned to England. The Expedition to Guinea In September 1881 the Burtons attended a geographical conference in Vienna where they encountered Verney Lovett Camer-
on, the explorer who five years earlier had become the first European to cross Africa from east to west. In Vienna, Burton and Cameron formulated plans to visit West Africa on behalf of a firm called the Guinea Coast Gold Mining Company, the director of which was James Irvine, a Liverpool merchant whom Burton had first met at Fernando Po. Cameron and the Burtons then went to Trieste, from where Cameron sailed to England to gather his equipment. Richard Burton departed Trieste for the Gold Coast ( Ghana) in November of 1881, stopping in Lisbon, then proceeding to Madeira where Cameron joined him. They reached Axim and explored the coastal region and the Ancobra river. The two explorers soon came to the conclusion that the country was full of gold and other precious materials; diamonds, rubies and sapphires. While Cameron surveyed the concessions, Burton dealt with the tribal chiefs and settled the legal claims. Burton would undertake no further expeditions outside Europe. His last years were spent with his wife commuting be-
tween London and other European capitals and, when not on the move, residing mainly in Trieste. For much of this time Burton worked on his translation of The Arabian Nights, publishing the first ten volumes privately between 1885 and 1886, and a further six supplemental volumes be-
tween 1886 and 1888. Isabel, who always had some misgivings about the rather bold nature of the material, mailed no less than 34,000 circulars to potential subscribers.6 6 An expurgated edition, titled “Lady Burton’s Edition of her Husband’s Arabian Nights”, was published for more general consumption in 1886
During his last days Burton worked on an enlarged translation of an Arabic book on sexual intercourse called “The Scented Garden”. On the 20th of October 1890, having just completed the final page, he died. Immediately following his death, Isabel burned some of his diaries and manuscripts, and in 1893, she published a 2-volume account of his life, depicting him as a faithful husband and a wronged and misunderstood adventurer. Rebuffed as unfit to be buried in Westminster Abbey with Livingstone, Burton was interred under a marble Arab tent in the Catholic cemetery at Mortlake, London.
Former science teacher Ray Howgego, (born London, 1946) is an independent traveller, adventurer and writer who, over the past twenty years, has visited many remote parts of the world. He is the author of the Encyclopedia of Exploration now a standard reference source in libraries and collections throughout the world. This 3.7 million word magnum opus is believed to be ‘the largest unaided single-author work in the English language’. For further details see www.explorersencyclopedia.com His The Book of Exploration, a popular history of exploration, was published in August 2009. In addition, Ray has recently completed a biography of the prolific lady traveller Gertrude Benham. Titled A very quiet and harmless traveller: Gertrude Emily Benham 1867-1938, it was published by the Plymouth Museum in July 2009 and is available from the museum’s bookshop. He is currently working on a definitive annotated bibliography of invented, imaginary and apocryphal voyages to be published by Hordern House as the fifth volume of the Encyclopedia. His next project is a biography of Alfred Harrison, an almost-unknown Polar explorer.
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BOOK & AUTHOR
THE SINNER’S GRAND TOUR BY: ELKE WEESJES
ast year, historian and travel writer, Tony Perrottet, published his fifth book ‘The Sinner’s Grand Tour’. In his book, the celebrated author of ‘The Naked Olympics’ and ‘Napoleon’s Privates’, explores the naughty remnants of Europe’s past. Together with his wife and their two young boys, he embarks on a somewhat controversial journey visiting legendary sites in Great Britain and Europe. Perrottett blends meticulously researched history and scenic descriptions with a hilarious narrative of his often failing attempts to keep his family happy whilst dragging them across Europe. Elke Weesjes talks to the author about combining travel and the history of sex, his adventures abroad, American uptightness and breaking Barbie’s legs. The book, based on a five part series called The Pervert’s Grand Tour which was first published in Slate magazine, takes us on a journey through the historical underbelly of Europe. The Grand Tour, a custom which flourished in the 17th, 18th and early 19th century, was a trip through several European countries undertaken almost exclusively by rich young men. The primary value of these lengthy excursions was in the exposure to both the cultural legacy of classical antiquity and the Renaissance, as well as the aristocratic society of Europe.
Following a very similar itinerary, Perrottet shows that these young men weren’t only interested in the more conventional works of art or aristocratic intellectual conversation; travellers were also attracted to those erotic relics scattered all over Europe yet hidden away from public view. The journey starts in the British Museum of London where Perrottet visits the Secretum, a room created in 1866, at the height of the era’s sexual hysteria, to protect the public from the moral perils of history. Donations came from several freethinking
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spirits and by the 1890s the Secret Museum boasted over 1,100 wicked objects. Today there isn’t much left of this erotic collection. Perrottet is granted a peak into one of the cupboards with the remaining items. He notes that the items - amulets depicting lovers in ‘a range of coital positions’, 18th century condoms and several phallic objects – seem to be the last buried link to that Victorian hysteria. This visit, which he describes as ‘historian’s heaven’, was only the first stop and makes Perrottet wonder ‘if such peculiar wonders lurked here in London, how much more could be found in the outside world?’ King Edward VII’s Sex Chair Together with his wife and children Perrottet continues his extraordinary trip and explores the Hellfire clubs in Great Britain, including the infamous Scottish gentlemen’s club the Beggar’s Benison. It was founded in 1732 in the town of Anstruther and is particularly interesting because, as Perrottet discovers, many items of the ‘club collection’ are still intact and stored
at the University of St. Andrews. He views a large collection of phalluses fashioned from glass and metal, but also bowls and platters engraved with male and female sexual organs. Unfortunately the notorious club mascot, a wig supposedly woven from the pubic hairs of King Charles II’s mistresses, has gone astray and all that is left is the wig’s box and stand. Leaving the British Isles, Perrottet heads to the original City of Sin (or Love) where he, with the help of an 1883 Parisian prostitute guide, discovers the Belle
FINDING THE CHAIR, WHICH IS A STRANGE CROSS BETWEEN A GYNAECOLOGIST’S CHAIR AND A SNOW SLED, IS PERHAPS THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE AUTHOR’S JOURNEY
Époque fantasy brothel -Le Chabanaisand the lost “sex chair” of King Edward VII. Tucked away in a dusty corner of a Paris warehouse, Perrottet, against all odds, finds this legendary piece of furniture. Finding the chair, which is a strange cross between a gynaecologist’s chair and a snow sled, is perhaps the highlight of the author’s journey. Perrottet’s perseverance pays off several times more, for example in the little French village of Lacoste where he, after lingering around town for weeks, is invited into the Sade’s château and descends down the subterranean level, also known as the Dungeon Sade. After studying the sex lives of French medieval peasants as recorded by the Inquisition in Montaillou and exploring the free-love life style of British expats Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley in Switzerland, the family ends up in Italy. An entertaining chapter is dedicated to Casanova, who should have been famous for so much more than his amorous achievements. According to Perrottet, Casanova puts the likes of Hugh Hefner to shame: “Apart from being a theatre direc-
tor, a violin virtuoso, and a secret agent, he translated the Iliad and created the French lottery system. [...] Just for good measure, he knocked out a history of Poland, several mathematical treatises, and a protofeminist pamphlet. But it was his rollicking sex memoir, written when he was in his sixties, that ensured his immortality”. The author uses the latter as a colourful reference on his visit to Venice. A Naughty Bathroom In Rome, Perrottet has another lucky break. He visits the Vatican hoping to find the remains of the Stufetta Bibbiena (the little heated room or bathroom of Cardinal Bibbiena). This pornographic bathroom, covered with erotic paintings by Raphael, has been the Vatican’s most mysterious site since the day it was created in 1516. The build up in the book is immense and some readers might not share the author’s enthusiasm when he finally enters the infamous and controversial ‘little boy’s room’. Some of the panels in this very small space, are the worse for wear, repaired with cement,
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others are completely missing. The most notorious image in the Stufetta, of the god Pan with a monstrous erection, has been deliberately damaged; someone has specifically etched away his phallus and testicles. The Sinners Grand Tour comes to a close in Capri which looks like ‘a place where the Gods would holiday’, beautiful yet known for its long tradition of debauchery, it was established two thousand years ago as an escape for rich Romans. Without too many visible remnants of the island’s controversial past to visit, the author elaborates on the stories, based on secondary literature, letters and diaries. The stories of Emperor Tiberius, who retired to the island in A.D 27, immortalized by the Roman (questionable) author Suetonius, are particularly interesting. According to Suetonius, Tiberius liked to swim in La Grotto Azzura, accompanied by boys dressed up as fish who teased him with their licks and nibbles. Visiting this legendary grotto, which was also a place for the worship of Cybele, the pagan goddess of the earth, marks the end of Perrottet’s exploration of
the Europe’s naughty history.
Q & A Tony Perrottet Nine months have passed since The Sinner’s Grand Tour came out in the United States. How has the book been received? “Not bad, although it is hard to gauge. The book is an unusual combination of academic research and frivolous travel and family anecdotes. In hindsight I don’t know if it worked as well as I hoped. It either attracts one group or the other. I have noticed that especially here in the States, a book needs to belong to one genre. I think that to a certain extent people don’t really know what to do with it. So to cut a long story short, the book has been received fine, but not as well as other books I wrote, for example The Naked Olympics. The latter is pure history although very funny, it is not very personal.” Did you try to combine the history of sex with a family travelogue in order to
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reach a wider audience? “I figured that writing about my family and all the hilarious aspects of dragging your wife and two boys through Europe would make the book a little more accessible. There is a certain logic to it but certain people don’t see it that way. Some readers find those frivolous bits interesting, but I lose them when I really get into the historical research side of it. In academia, in the 1960s and especially in the 1970s, lots of work was done on the history of sexuality. But a lot of it is really boring. At the same time there are many travel books, but they are often very superficial, so what I have tried to do is combining the both, the popular and the academic.” Your sources are scarce and often incomplete. This must have resulted in holes in your research. How did you work your way round this? “The Hellfire clubs were the hardest to research. The sources are very thin and I had to use the word ‘probably’ often because I simply don’t know the exact de-
tails. You just have to put together what seems the most probable. The history of sex in Paris and the Belle Époche are on the other hand very well documented. In the case of Paris there are firsthand accounts and diaries. The main problem with the Hellfire clubs was that this raunchy bit of history was followed by the Victorian era, which was characterized by sexual restraint, which contrasted greatly with the morality of the previous Georgian period. Many records were destroyed, letters were burned in an attempt to erase the country’s racy past. Although more sources in France survived, this country too went through quite a conservative time. Much of the more controversial sources were also destroyed. Researching the Stufetta del Bibbiena which was built in the Renaissance wasn’t easy either, but fortunately amazing scholars have gone back and tracked down correspondence between Cardinal Bibbiena and Raphael. So, key facts and wonderful material are there! The medieval stuff [peasants in the Montaillou] is amazing, huge amounts of
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evidence turned up because the Inquisition arrested the whole village and interviewed all its residents. So when I went into the Vatican archives, I was able to find a book, a giant document that brought together all these oral testimonies. During the interviews these peasants were in a very intimidating situation and they were often interviewed to find evidence of witchcraft. One aspect of that is contraception, so different contraceptive devices that were used at the time were discussed. This is fascinating evidence for the history of contraception, although it wasn’t what the interview was about, which makes this kind of research so interesting. Every age has its own beauty when it comes to research but also its own weird problems. And problems aren’t always related to a lack of sources. They can’t even figure out what happened to Kennedy in 1963; in this case there is too much evidence.” The history of the peasants is particularly interesting because you applied a so called bottom up approach. It seems
that the history of sex is mostly based on experiences of the upper classes. “That is a huge problem with the history of sex. People are likely to say that the 18th century was incredibly wild, because they are reading about aristocrats who were hanging out at Versailles. Finding out about ordinary people and sex is very hard. That’s why the story of the peasants is so extraordinary. The interviews are still there and it is amazing to have firsthand accounts, although we need to keep in mind that these interviews were translated by the Inquisitors on the spot. The people in this region of the Pyrenees spoke Occitan, but the Inquisitors wrote everything down in Latin. This could have affected the accuracy. Nevertheless it is pretty amazing to have the direct voices. Little anecdotes which were besides the point, but still recorded, are particularly interesting. These peasants were jumping in and out of each other’s beds, hiding in cupboards when husbands came home, all sorts of shenanigans happened in this village. These are wonderful intimate insights into the lives of
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sans during the Belle Époche or 18th century London were suddenly plucked from nowhere and then going into this amazing wealth and prestige, marrying aristocrats. Their history was often scorched from the records because the Victorians didn’t want it in their family tree that a relative came from such background. But the prostitute guide (and there were plenty, published regularly over many decades) reveal the truth about these girls. In these guides you can find names of prostitutes. You can figure out who they married and how they got out of the business. You can trace life stories. All of a sudden working class Polly from Covent Garden turns into Lady Mary of so and so. And they joke about it in these guides, which are very gossipy.” medieval peasants. This sort of evidence is very rare.” Other ‘ordinary’ people you discuss are prostitutes in Paris. How did you find out about their lives? “Some of these poor prostitutes and courte-
Would you say that the prostitutes’ diaries you used give an accurate image of the life of a working girl in 19th century Paris? “You tend to hear of the memoires written by these women who ended up becoming millionaires with a house on the Champs
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Elysees entertaining presidents and famous artists. You don’t hear much of the thousands of women who might have made it a little bit up the ladder, but then slowly sink down and get stuck in these luxury brothels like Le Chabanais. These brothels are beautiful metaphors because they are so sumptuous, but the girls are forced to live in the grimy attic, with three in a bed in a very sickly environment, a tuberculosis horror! They didn’t tend to write down their life stories, although they are sometimes embedded in the prostitute guides. You can read about people on the way up and on the way down. So to answer your question, these diaries give a skewed view of reality. There is definitely a temptation to romanticise the whole thing.” Your chapter on Paris is particularly entertaining. You must have been thrilled to find the “sex chair” of King Edward VII? “The chair was a triumph. It was one of those classic things. No one else had asked about it; no one had really pursued
it. And it was not that the guy [Louis Soubrier, whose ancestor manufactured the chair] was hiding it either. And the thing that I couldn’t quite understand is why the people in Paris themselves weren’t intrigued enough to look for it. In particular the lady I met who runs the erotic art gallery, did not take it a step further and made a few more inquiries.” Maybe there is a certain level of fatigue when it comes to Paris’ raunchy past? “The Belle Époche is not exactly a cliché but they milk it so much in the tourist industry. It is too much. Nevertheless they were pretty excited when it was discovered. The story of the chair was very alive. It worked because there were a lot of characters on many levels; there was the corpulent King Edward VII, the gallery owner Madame Nicole Canet and you got Soubrier- the crazy guy with the moustache, looking a lot like Biggles. The chapter about the Vatican was on the contrary much less alive, which was much more about dealing with bureaucracy and endless archives. So yes,
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finding the chair was one of the trip’s highlights.” Looking at the chair, I still can’t figure out how it enables a fat man to have sex with two women simultaneously. Can
you? “It is a matter of debate, the legend speaks indeed of two women. It is a weird design, there is a padded thing underneath, so how it worked exactly, I have no idea. This is an example of where I’d like the reader
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to send in suggestions. My wife Les, who works at the Museum of Natural History here in New York, made a scale model of the chair. We decided to use a Ken and Barbie doll to try out some different positions. Les had to break Barbie’s hips and legs to make the bloody thing work. The scale model with Ken and Barbie was on display during a party here at Soho house. One of the organisers got all flustered and covered it up, because her 16 year old son was also at the party.Amer-
AMERICA IS A FUNNY PLACE: IT CAN BE SO UPTIGHT ABOUT CERTAIN THINGS ica is a funny place: it can be so uptight about certain things. Mindbogglingly raunchy stuff comes out of this country, yet so many people have a hugely conservative attitude. I think it is a shame there is no balance between the two.”
Was this conservative attitude also the reason that you had to change the book’s title from ‘A Pervert’s Grand Tour’ into ‘A Sinner’s Grand Tour’? “After writing the five part series for Slate, which was called the “Pervert’s Grand Tour”, my publisher suggested to do something on the same lines but then for the whole of Europe. They changed ‘Pervert’ into ‘Sinner’, because they didn’t like the word. Which was a minor tragedy. People assumed that women might not read the book on the subway when it was called ‘A Pervert’s Grand Tour’. American women apparently object to the title. They don’t like the word pervert, which has a very negative association here. Whereas in Australia or in England it is an ironic thing. After all why would you write a serious book about perverts calling it ‘A Pervert’s Grand Tour’? Americans can be quite literal sometimes, which is kind of sad.” In your book you focus on Great Britain, France, Switzerland and Italy. What was your reasoning behind this selection?
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Considering its rich past of prostitution I was wondering why you didn’t write about Amsterdam? “Amsterdam would have been great, although a bit obvious, but it never featured in a mythic sort of way like the other places I visited. Sexual permissiveness seems more of a modern thing in the Netherlands. I guess in the 1960s and 1970s Amsterdam was this incredibly liberal place, but from what I gathered they were quite conservative back in the day. I came across an expression when I was doing research. In 18th century London they used to say ‘As cold as a Dutch woman’.” Were there any other places that you would have liked to include? “It is hard to find a good balance. A story needs to sustain a chapter. In Madrid in the Prado for example, there are these amazing paintings by Goya called ‘The Nude Maja’ and ‘The Clothed Maja’. There has been many speculations on who this woman is. This is one of those cute little histories I would love to dive into, but there is just
not enough for a chapter. Also, I probably wouldn’t be able to find it out. I had a list of things that would be great to find. Marquis de Sade’s scull got lost in Germany and theoretically it is possible to find it. Or Lord Byron’s autobiography which also disappeared. It would be amazing to find that. I would have loved to include a chapter on Prague. Casanova who travelled all over Europe ended up in a castle in Bohemia just outside of Prague. He spent the last fifteen years of his life here. He was a librarian in this castle, but was so bored and depressed that he decided to write a memoir. So he produced this huge manuscript, which the French government bought two years ago for a record 9.5 million dollars. Besides visiting the Casanova’s palazzos in Venice, his houses in Paris, I would have liked to visit Prague to the castle where Casanova supposedly worked with Mozart. Back then it was already a miserable place, made worse by the Communists who trashed the place. At the moment it is being put back together, with a museum dedicated to Casanova. It
is a very quirky place. It is in many ways an untold story. Casanova lived until he was 73 years old, which is a ripe old age considering the fact he had lived his life on the edge and he suffered from syphilis. His story is a parable of life and art. He lived an amazing adventurous life, he wrote all sorts of things. But people only know him because of this sexual escapades not because of his writings on his discussions with Voltaire or the music he composed together with Mozart. I think that visiting Prague would have been a very logic ending to the book and maybe would have made more sense than its geographical ending in Southern Italy.”
TONY PERROTTET studied history at Sydney University before moving to South America to work as a “roving correspondent,” He covered the Shining Path war in Peru, drug running in Colombia and several military rebellions in Argentina. Fifteen years ago he settled in New York City, but continued to travel to places like Iceland, Tierra del Fuego, Wyoming, Tasmania and Zanzibar, while contributing to international publications including Smithsonian Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, Esquire, National Geographic Adventure and the New York Times. Perrottet is the author of four books - a collection of travel stories, Off the Deep End: Travels in Forgotten Frontiers (1997); Pagan Holiday: On the Trail of Ancient Roman Tourists (2002); The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Greek Games (2004); and Napoleon’s Privates: 2500 Years of History Unzipped (2008).
Photography Credits Page 5: Queen Victoria (© photostream: Sam Judson - flickr) Page 8: Pedaling Through the Past (© photostream: brizzle born and bred - flickr) Page 30: The Anatomy of the Humane Body, Cheselden (© photostream: Facada Leite-MoÃ§a- flickr) Page 32: Corsets CP à la Sirène (© photostream: zigazou76 - flickr) Page 35: L’Origine du monde by Gustave Courbet (© photostream: LittleO2- flickr) Page 42: 1959 Lysol Advertisement (© photostream: clotho98 - flickr) Pag 43 :Vintage Yale Hospital (©photostream: PB Hastling - flickr) Page 51: “J.D.P.”: Heading Home with the Suitcase’ (© photostream: Dr. John2005 flickr) Page 54: WWI soldier, monument Antwerp (© photostream: Truus, Bob & Jan too flickr) Page 57: Women during World War I (© photostream: brizzle born and bred - flickr) Page 58: Vluchtoord Uden 1915 (© photostream: Brabant Bekijken - flickr Page 60: War in Uden 1917 (© photostream: Brabant Bekijken -flickr) Page 61: Antwerp WWI (© photostream: Arnoooo - flickr) Page 62 :Antwerp WWI (© photostream: Arnoooo - flickr) Page 60: Sir Rchard Burton (© photostream: seriykotik1970 - flickr) Page 68: Western Temples, Khajaharo (© photostream: agroffman - flickr) Page 70: The Holiest Shrines of Islam:... (© photostream: Asian Curator San Diego Museum of Art - flickr) Page 87: Tomb of Sir Richard Burton (© photostream: sludgegulper- flickr) Page 95: Top left: 18th century condom made of animal membrane (© Trustees of the British Museum), top right: Britain Hellfire club cave, bottom left, Hellfire club cave, bottom middle, Paris Chabanais today, bottom right London British Museum (© Tony Perrottet) Page 98: La Chabanais & The Sex Chair (© Tony Perrottet) Page 99: Working girls in Paris (© Tony Perrottet) Page 101: Top: Lacoste , bottom: signature De Sade & Chateau de Sade Lacoste (© Tony Perrottet) Page 102: Working girl Paris (© Tony Perrottet) Page 104: Montaillou Pyrenees , Venice cell Casanova, The Villa Diodati Switzerland (© Tony Perrottet) Page 105: Venice Doge Palace and Canals in Venice (© Tony Perrottet) Page 106: Sex Chair Model (© Tony Perrottet) Page 108: Top left: Capri, top right, Raphael God Pan, bottom left Vatican, bottom right Stufetta Bibbiena (© Tony Perrottet)
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Published on Apr 9, 2012
Published on Apr 9, 2012
The Victorian Era has been defined as a time of extremes and contradictions, under a veneer of balance and respectability. In this issue con...