Postal Pleasures

Postal Pleasures : Sex, Scandal, and Victorian Letters

4.12 (8 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

In 1889 uniformed post boys were found moonlighting in a West End brothel frequented by men of the upper classes. "The Cleveland Street Scandal" erupted and Victorian Britain was gripped by the possibility that the Post Office - a bureaucratic backbone of nation and empire - was inspiring and servicing perverse passions. The alliance between transgressive sex and the Post Office that the scandal illuminated was neither incidental nor singular; there was something
queer about the post in the nineteenth century. Postal Pleasures tells the story of queer postal relations, from Post Office reforms initiated in 1840 up to the imperial end of the nineteenth century. It tells this story by analysing literature that expresses the cultural consequences of this peculiar
kind of "going postal." Victorian writers abandoned the epistolary novel in favour of postal fiction. The postal network, its uniformed employees and its material trappings - envelopes, postmarks, stamps - were used to signal and circulate sexual intrigue. For Anthony Trollope, Thomas Hardy, Eliza Lynn Lynton, Henry James, Oscar Wilde, Edward Carpenter, Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker and others, the idea of an envelope promiscuously jostling its neighbours in a post boy's bag, or the notion
that secrets passed through the eyes and fingers of telegraph girls, was more stimulating that the actual contents of correspondence. By the period's end, the postal system had become both an instrument and a metaphor for sexual relations that crossed and double-crossed lines of class, marriage and
heterosexuality.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 264 pages
  • 155 x 234 x 18mm | 348g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0199731160
  • 9780199731169
  • 1,664,412

Table of contents

Introduction: ; Victorians Go Postal ; 1. Postal Digressions: ; Mail and Sexual Scandal ; 2. "This Little Queen's Head Can't be Untrue:" Trollope's Postal Infidelities ; 3. A Queer Job for A Girl: ; the Communicative Touch in Trollope, Hardy and Lynn Linton ; 4. All Red Routes: Blood Brotherhood and the Post in Doyle, Kipling and Stoker ; 5. Post Script: Henry James's Public Servant ; Works Cited ; Index
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Review quote

richly evocative and captivating book ... Thomas's book is not only thoroughly informative; it is also elegant, engaging, and entertaining. * Karin Koehle, Victorian Network * Kate Thomas's persistently entertaining prose is energized by puns * Times Literary Supplement * After reading Postal Pleasures, a new light can be shed ... Thomas explores the telegraph as a technology that is tactile and sonic, rather than visual ... The theoretical play here is brilliant, and cannot be done justice in a review. ingenious and compelling ... detailing in intriguing ways the relation between empire, sexuality, and the postal system during the Victorian period * Richard Terry, Northumbria University, Modern Language Review *
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About Kate Thomas

Kate Thomas is Associate Professor of English, Bryn Mawr College.
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Rating details

8 ratings
4.12 out of 5 stars
5 38% (3)
4 38% (3)
3 25% (2)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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