Blogs > Cliopatria > Rapture!

Apr 4, 2007 5:27 pm


Very grateful to Ellen Heltzel (of the Book Babes) for the item at the National Book Critics Circle blog Critical Mass about my column today, which discusses Robert Cawdrey's pioneering but long-forgotten dictionary from 1604.

Not too surprised that she notices some of the sexual lingo that I cited. When you say"Puritan," the notion of repression comes automatically to mind.

But there's pretty good evidence that their reputation as fiercely antisexual killjoys is quite mistaken -- a point first made, so far as I know, by Edmund Morgan in his article"The Puritans and Sex" (1942) and shored by more recent work.

They wanted it kept in its"proper" (marital) place -- no big surprise there, of course. But in sermons and treatises, they were perfectly willing to compare spiritual bliss to its carnal analog.

(Crossposted to Quick Study)

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