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A smart, provocative account of the erotic current running just beneath the surface of a stuffy and stifling Victorian London.

In 1860s London, two loosely overlapping groups of bohemians—the Cannibal Club and the Aesthetes—challenged the buttoned-up Victorian propriety to promote erotic freedom and expression. Sensually attuned and politically radical, they were among the most influential thinkers and artists of the day, from Richard Burton to Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Morris. These iconoclasts not only navigated the fringes of sexual deviance with their bodies but also carried the pleasures of the body into their work, creating a taboo-loving counterculture whose reverberations can be felt today. In this stunning and nuanced exposé of the Victorian London we thought we knew, Deborah Lutz takes us beyond the eyebrow-raising practices of these sex rebels, showing us how their work uncovered troubles that ran beneath the surface of the larger social fabric: the struggle for women's emancipation, the dissolution of traditional religions, and the pressing need to expand accepted forms of sexual expression.

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