Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Some Historical Literary Perspective on Drinking, Travelling, and Fucking

Continuing on the theme of perspective --

So every generation likes to think that they invented drinking and fucking, and recent generations like to think that they invented traveling. With that in mind, here's a list of some REALLY old books about those things, so we can all keep our heads straight.

Some of the first prose works to be identified as novels were pretty much about travelling and fucking around: THE CANTERBURY TALES, from  within its framework of tales being told during a pilgrimage, includes THE MILLER'S TALE, a Tucker Max-like tale of drunken students chasing a guy's wife, analingus and red-hot pokers being mistakenly jammed in farting assholes. This was written at the end of the 14th century by the way. Nothing new under the sun, they got "Tucker Max Drunk" back in ancient Egypt, dude.

CANDIDE, the 1759 novel by Voltaire, features an optimistic, sheltered young man being thrust out into the world where he encounter one bizarre adventure and tragedy after another. (Gee that sounds kinda familiar.) To quote from the Wikipedia synopsis regarding his adventures in Paraguay:

When Candide proclaims he intends to marry Cunégonde, her brother attacks him, and Candide stabs him through with his rapier. After lamenting all the people (mainly priests) he's killed, he and Cacambo flee. In their flight, Candide and Cacambo come across two naked women being chased and bitten by a pair of monkeys. Candide, seeking to protect the women, shoots and kills the monkeys, but is informed by Cacambo that the monkeys and women were probably lovers.

Most people are probably familiar with GULLIVER'S TRAVELS from the many g-rated cartoon adaptations; but this 1735 tale of incessant travel and non-stop snarkiness even puts snarky travellers like Paul Theroux on the trailer.

As far as depravity, Gulliver visits not only a land where he is a giant -- there is a mention of the residents being startled at his penis size during a parade -- but also a land where he is tiny and everyone else is a giant. The local women seem fascinated with him  -- he is placed on a giant breast:

I must confess no object ever disgusted me so much as the sight of her monstrous breast, which I cannot tell what to compare with, so as to give the curious reader an idea of its bulk, shape, and colour. It stood prominent six feet, and could not be less than sixteen in circumference. The nipple was about half the bigness of my head, and the hue both of that and the dug, so varied with spots, pimples, and freckles, that nothing could appear more nauseous.

and then:

The handsomest among these maids of honour, a pleasant, frolicsome girl of sixteen, would sometimes set me astride upon one of her nipples, with many other tricks, wherein the reader will excuse me for not being over particular.

Hey now! Talk about sex tourism!

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