The Underbelly of Literature. Pornography in the Nineteenth-Century Netherlands
(Marita Mathijsen) The Low Countries - 2008, № 16, pp. 39-49
The Dutch nineteenth century has the reputation of being prudish. Though in the 1960s Amsterdam particularly was in the vanguard of sexual liberation, if we go back a hundred years things were very different. Anyone studying the public cultural manifestations of the period is bound to conclude that all citizens were as moral as their houses were spotless. Sexuality remains hidden and expressions of it or allusions to it do not belong in the public sphere. But of course that sexuality is present, even if it is hidden. In ‘the masked century' the attraction between the sexes was no less strong than in former ages, though their experience of sex is not openly described. There were extra-marital relationships, gentlemen visited prostitutes, unmarried girls became pregnant by lovers who may or may not have been married, and married women also committed adultery. There must have been an ambivalent attitude to pornographic literature as well. It was not talked about and it was scarcely ever alluded to, but the books were known.
The article you want to access is behind a paywall. You can purchase this article or subscribe to access all the low countries articles.