Wednesday, March 08, 2006

what should women read?

I ran across an interesting excerpt recently about women reading novels. It is from James' Fordyce's Sermons to Young Women, first published in England in 1766. It reads,

"...there seem to be very few, in the style of Novel, that you can read with safety, and yet fewer that you can read with advantage. - What shall we say of certain books, which we are assured (for we have not read them) are in their nature so shameful, in their tendency so pestiferous, and contain such rank treason against the royalty of Virtue, such horrible violation of all decorum, that she who can bear to peruse them must in her soul be a prostitute, let her reputation in life be what it will. But can it be true - say, ye chaste stars, that with innumerable eyes inspect the midnight behaviour of mortals - can it be true, that any young woman, pretending to decency, should endure for a moment to look on this infernal brood of futility and lewdness?"

A little different from any sermon I've ever given. I'd probably only put Ann Coulter books in this category - can you, dear readers, think of any others?

4 comments:

Katalina said...
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Katalina said...

Is this the same Fordyce referred to in Pride and Prejudice when Jane rescues Lizzie from Mr. Collins?

Rio said...

Do you remember when Mr. Collins first arrives, and in the evening he is asked to read to the ladies? They pull out a novel, and he turns his nose up at it and then out comes Fordyce's sermons. Good memory, Katalina!

alexgirl said...

Ran across here searching for Fordyce's sermons on the internet. I find it generally amusing. Do not get me wrong, I am a Christian; but Fordyce's Sermons are purely purist and should not be read by anybody at all decent. It's filled with self-righteousness and is totally hypocritical. If God would have that intention that we should live away from sins and have a totally "pure" community, He would not have sent down His Son to be human. How, may I ask, are we to spread the Word if we're only living among "pure" people, and not those that need God the most? If you do not understand something, how could you change it? By being "pure" is not enough. And pray, tell me, what does "pure" mean to you? It may differ greatly. Don't tell me you'll follow exactly what the Bible says, because no one knows exactly how to interpret it, Theorists are still trying to prove it. The reason that Jesus is sent to us, is because God knows humans to be weak; we try hard not to do "bad things", but we still do. There's no point pointing fingers, and no point reading Fordyce's because it would make you point your finger more.
How could someone not read something, but still believes that it's "against the royalty of Virtue"?
I would like to remind everyone that purist communities did not and could not survive because of constant rules and regulations made by men, they take fragments of the Bible and put it into use for their own benefits. What about "love thy neighbour like ye love thyself"? It's the biggest command of all...