“Nothing could be less true than ‘all the world loves a lover.’ Rarely in history have courting couples found their path smoothed for them. Modern lovers must draw what consolation they can from the fact that the woods are no longer full of spring-guns and man traps, and that holding hands is no longer construed as ‘sinful dalliance’.”
E.S. Turner, with his unique gift of selectivity and with his extraordinary industry, has in this book collected anecdotes, customs, rules and regulations, opinions of the times, and a host of other pertinent and astonishing material culled from every available source to show that from the time of Ovid to the time of Kinsey, lovers have labored under difficulties. At the same time he shows how the manner of wooing has adjusted itself to changing conceptions of love and new codes of manners. The result is a highly diverting book, completely readable, filled with humor and delightfully informing.
We learn, for instance, that the love of which Ovid wrote was the pursuit of other men’s wives and that current ads and etiquette books have nothing on his advice for he said that “a woman with strong-smelling breath should not approach too near her lover.”
We learn further that romantic love started with the songs of the troubadours when husbands were supposed to be proud that someone was addressing verses to their wives and to shut their eyes if they thought the adoration was going beyond the bounds of poetry.
There is information on wooing in the Renaissance when mazes, a new fashion of gardens, assisted lovers and on the rules for letter writing which covered every possibility including a sample “Letter From A Young Lady After Having The Small Pox To Her Lover.” And a discussion of bundling when the degree of freedom allowed the young couple by the parents depended on the eagerness of the parents to see their daughter married. Then on through the years to the age of the Gibson Girl, the Twenties and new freedom for women, the cigarette, the ads, preoccupation with sex and the Kinsey Report.
“If the devil step’d, old lady, from his regions below, He couldn’t find a picture like the one before me now; No doubt you know the gentleman, a sable one is he, And he’s said to be Papa of all the lies that yet might be. Your eyes are false, your nose is false, and falser still your tongue, Your breast is false, your heart is false, as ever poet sung; And if disgust did not prevail, upon my present will, I could speak of something villainous, and yet more filthy still.”
A Vulgar Valentine: early nineteenth century
(Interesting or pithy quotes from the book)
“It was vulgarity and venom as well as sentiment that helped to weigh down the all for-spent postman on the morning of February 14th. Perhaps this was responsible in some measure for the decline of the Valentine later in the century – a decline from which it did not properly recover until our own times, when the greeting-card trade determined to put St. Valentine’s Day back on the calendar, along with Mother’s Day and other saints’ days. In the field of courtship, the place of the Valentine is easy to over-rate, and it has a literature probably wider than it deserves.”
“According to those who find time to worry about the future of the race, at least four things are wrong with the state of courting today:
First: Courting needs a new code of manners, a new fastidiousness. There is too much mauling. Social intercourse between the sexes needs to be enlivened, as it once was, by grace, courtesy, fascination and wit.
Second: Courting is in a rut. Couples rarely look for mates outside their immediate social class. The result is social inbreeding of the worst kind.
Third: Courting couples ‘rush into’ marriage without being instructed or trained for it, without even exchanging medical certificates.
Fourth: Courting couples enjoy too little privacy. They need more living room (which does not necessarily mean the living-room). They have plenty of opportunities for making each other’s acquaintance, but not enough opportunities for getting to know each other.
Due to the obscurity of some titles, the contents of The Compleat Witch Illustrated Bibliography Project may contain information that is inaccurate or incomplete. We encourage readers to submit corrections and pertinent addenda like images, quotes, or other information, either as a Comment on the appropriate post or via The Compleat Witch Illustrated Bibliography Facebook page.
An annotated and illustrated bibliography from Anton Szandor LaVey's "The Compleat Witch, or, What to Do When Virtue Fails".