‘… the rich range of historical information that Clark weaves into her chapters... makes this ambitious overview of sex in Europe a highly accessible and successful endeavour.’ – Times Higher Education Supplement
'Provides a valuable overview of the history of sexuality in Europe since classical antiquity, synthesising as it does a mass of studies of specific regions and periods which have appeared during the last two decades.' Lesley Hall, Wellcome Library, UK
Desire: A History of European Sexuality is a sweeping survey of sexuality in Europe from the Greeks to the present day. It traces two concepts of sexual desire that have competed in European history: desire as dangerous, polluting, and disorderly; and desire as creative, transcendent, even revolutionary. This book follows these changing attitudes toward sexuality through the major turning points of European history.
Written in a lively and engaging style, the book contains many fascinating anecdotes drawing on a rich array of sources including poetry, novels, pornography and film as well as court records, autobiographies and personal letters. While Anna Clark builds on the work of dozens of historians, she also takes a fresh approach and introduces the concepts of twilight moments and sexual economies. Desire integrates the history of heterosexuality with same-sex desire, and focuses on the emotions of love as well as the passions of lust, the politics of sex as well as the personal experiences.