Venus in Boston: And Other Tales of Nineteenth-century City Life

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Univ of Massachusetts Press, 1950 - Fiction - 391 pages
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This book reprints for the first time since the 1850s three short works by George Thompson (1823--c. 1873), one of antebellum America's most successful and prolific authors of sensational fiction. Beginning in the 1840s, he wrote stories for sporting papers like Life in Boston and New York, edited the humorous New York weekly The Broadway Belle, and contributed regularly to the sexually explicit Venus' Miscellany. He also published dozens of novels, most of which were set in Northeastern cities. His writing blends entertainment and social protest, combining commentary on such issues as urbanization, poverty, race, and class with some of the era's most shocking depictions of sex and violence.

The three works in this volume offer a rich representative sample of Thompson's writing. The two novels -- Venus in Boston and City Crimes -- depict the American city as a place of dark mystery, bawdy humor, and near-universal corruption peopled with con artists and criminals of all kinds. In each novel, a complex narrative structure interweaves multiple stories of exploited labor, abuse of power, seduction, intrigue, and crime. Thompson's autobiography, My Life, presents the author's life in terms nearly as lively as his fiction.

Thompson's zestful, unconventional writings fly in the face of the stereotypical view of Victorian America as straitlaced and sentimental. Ideal for use as a classroom text, this new edition includes a scholarly introduction and an extensive bibliography.

 

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
3
Innocence in the Grip of Lust
7
The Rescue
17
A night in Ann street
20
The Chevalier and the Duchess
52
The Stolen Package
75
Showing the operations of Jew Mike
90
The Chambers of Love Conclusion
98
Frank Sydney in the Power of his Enemies
236
Josephine and Mrs Franklin
239
Showing the Desperate and Bloody Combat
249
Showing how Sydney was tortured
255
The Marriage
259
Servants Frolics
268
Scene on Boston Common
273
The Ruined Rector
281

A young gentleman of wealth and fashion
107
The Courtezans story
112
Domestic Troubles
119
A Fashionable Lady
124
A Thieves Cribon
128
The Dark Vaults
132
The false wife
137
The Subterranean Cellar
147
The Masquerade Ball
156
The Amours of Josephine
168
The Condemnation to Death
172
Showing how the Dead Man escaped
178
The African and his Mistres
186
A Glimpse of the Crimes
192
Showing the pranks played
204
Showing the Voluptuous Revellings
212
Illustrating the truth of the proverb
219
The Dead Mans story
227
Showing how Mrs Belmont was pursued
232
The Disguised Husband
286
Wherein one of the Characters
295
Showing that a man should never marry
304
In which the author defineth position
313
In which I begin to Acquire a Knowledge of the World
315
In which I become a Printer
325
In which is enacted a bloody tragedy
331
In which I set forth upon my travels
339
I encountered a lady acquaintance
344
In which is introduced a celebrated Comedian
354
A deed of blood and horror
359
An Escape and a Triumph
363
An accidenta suicideand a change of residence
366
Six weeks in Leverett Street Jail
369
The Uncles and Nephews
371
My Parting Bow
377
BIBLIOGRAPHY
379
Copyright

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Popular passages

Page 1 - Vice! how soft are thy voluptuous ways! While boyish blood is mantling, who can ‘scape The fascination of thy magic gaze? A Cherub-hydra round us dost thou gape, And mould to every taste, thy dear, delusive shape.
Page xxxix - Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his sex, / Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.”
Page liii - planners of sly involutions for their own preferment to city offices or state legislatures or the judiciary or congress or the presidency.”

About the author (1950)

David S. Reynolds is Distinguished Professor of English at Baruch College, CUNY. His many books include Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography, winner of the Bancroft Prize, and Beneath the American Renaissance, winner of the Christian Gauss Award.

Kimberly R. Gladman teaches English at New York University.

Bibliographic information