Eric Berkowitz

Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire

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Sex and Punishment tells the story of the struggle throughout millennia to regulate the most powerful engine of human behaviour: sex. From the savage impalement of an Ancient Mesopotamian adulteress to the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde for 'gross indecency' in 1895, Eric Berkowitz evokes the entire sweep of Western sex law. 'I don't think I've ever read such an entertaining historical work. Whether you want to fuel your indignation, or simply furnish yourself with enough jaw-dropping data to galvanise a hundred party conversations, you really must shell out for this book. It's worth every penny.' Nicholas Lezard, Guardian 'A wonderful exposure of the illogicality of so much legislation that attempts to regulate sexual activity … from the age of consent to adultery and sex on college campuses.' Mary Beard 'A fascinating and gruesomely compelling study of human sexuality' Mail on Sunday 'Eric Berkowitz's cross-examination of human sexuality is both exciting and impressively relentless.' Sunday Times 'Stimulating … Berkowitz has achieved a perfect balance between case study and analysis, and between narrative and reflection. … This is a wonderfully well-written, well-organised and accomplished book.' Sarah Wheeler, Literary Review The cast of Sex and Punishment is as varied as the forms taken by human desire itself: royal mistresses, gay charioteers, medieval transvestites, lonely goat-lovers, prostitutes of all stripes and London rent boys. Each of them had forbidden sex, and each was judged – and justice, as Berkowitz shows – rarely had anything to do with it.
This book is currently unavailable
580 printed pages
Original publication
2013

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Quotes

    Lisa Fedotovahas quoted5 years ago
    Plato also recognized humanity’s intense craving for sex, saying in his last dialogue, The Laws, that it “influences the souls of men with the most raging frenzy—the lust for the sowing of offspring that burns with the utmost violence.” For Plato, the sex drive was a mad subconscious effort to reunify humanity’s fractured nature.

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