In the previous post in this series I outlined the publishing of Richard Payne Knight’s A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus and the ensuing scandal. For this post I’m going to look at some of Knight’s other works -and his later life – post-Discourse. My aim here is to highlight the wide range of Knight’s interests and show how he continued to express, in various ways, his antipathy to Christianity. I’ll get around to examining some of the background politics and social context in the next post. Continue reading »
Posts tagged ‘Richard Payne Knight’
As I hope the treatise may be forgotten I shall not name the author, but observe, that all the ordure and filfth, all the antique pictures, and all the representations of the generative organs, in their most odious and degrading profusion, have been raked together, and copulated (for no other idea seems to be in the mind of the author) and copulated, I say, with a new species of blasphemy. Such are, what we would call, the records of the stews and bordellos of Grecian and Roman antiquity, exhibited for the recreation of antiquaries, and the obscene revellings of Greek Scholars in their private studies. Surely this is to dwell mentally in lust and darkness in the loathsome and polluted chamber at Capreae.”
Thomas James Mathias
Given that I’m going to give a lecture on Richard Payne Knight for the London Fortean Society in October, I thought I’d better get on with the series of posts on Knight I started last June. Continue reading »
A quick post to announce two forthcoming lectures:
Firstly, On Monday October 24, I will be presenting A Phallic (K)night for the London Fortean Society at Conway Hall (7.30-9.30pm).
A Phallic (K)night: will examine the life of Richard Payne Knight – collector, arbiter of taste and gentleman scholar whose book A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus proposes that all mythology and religion (including Christianity) is derived from primitive fertility cults. In such cults, he asserted, the male and female genitalia symbolise procreative power, and the primal life force is worshipped through this seemingly obscene imagery. “Priapus” caused scandal in the eighteenth century, but cast an influence that is still with us today – from psychoanalysis to contemporary Paganism. I will explore the key themes of “A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus” and its republication in the nineteenth century as both erotic and ethnographic text.
My second lecture for 2016 is entitled Yogis Behaving Badly and will be held at Treadwells Bookshop on Monday November 21 (7.30-9.15pm). For more information and booking visit the Treadwells Bookshop website.
Yogis Behaving Badly will examine the case of Raja Man Singh who, in the early nineteenth century, shared his kingdom with a group of Nath ascetics, to the extent that they became, effectively, “state-sponsored holy men”. It is not only a tale of political intrigue, assassination and poison, but also one which destabilises popular representations of Indian Yogis as being detached from the world and the state.
Back in 2011 I gave a lecture at Treadwells Bookshop for LGBT History month on Richard Payne Knight’s A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus under the title “A Phallic (K)night”. Due to one thing and another, I never got around to writing up the lecture for publication, so I’m going to serialise it here. This first post provides a general introduction and outlines some biographical information on Payne Knight and some of his colleagues. In future posts I’ll examine Discourse itself – and the circumstances in which it came to be written, and then go on to look at the role it played in the nineteenth-century enthusiasm for theories of “phallic worship”. Continue reading »
In the previous post on Edward Sellon I took a look at Sellon’s pornographic writings within the wider of context of nineteenth century attitudes to India & sexuality. For this post, I’m going to take a look at some of Sellon’s scholarly work, it’s reception, and its role in the representation of tantra. Continue reading »
“Shocking things go on here. You wouldn’t believe it! Licentiousness! Orgies! …. Even bingo. Oh yes.”
Lurcio (Frankie Howerd), Up Pompeii
“But the obvious forms and ceremonies of a religion are not always to be understood in their obvious sense; but are to be considered as symbolical representations of some hidden meaning, which may be extremely wise and just, though the symbols themselves, to those who know not their true significance may appear in the highest degree absurd and extravagant.”
Richard Payne Knight, A Discourse on the worship of Priapus
In the midst of Richard Payne Knight’s A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus, and its connection with the mystic Theology of the Ancients (first published in 1786) there is an early European analysis of Ganesa: Continue reading »