Crafty Whores

The Moralizing of Aretino's Dialogues

in Critical Survey
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  • 1 Arizona State University ian.moulton@asu.edu
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In 1658, in the waning days of the Commonwealth – a time when much manuscript erotic English verse from the period 1600–1640 was coming into print for the first time – a pamphlet entitled The Crafty Whore, or The Misery and Iniquity of the Bawdyhouses Laid Open, was printed in London and ‘sould by Henry Marsh at the Princes Armes at the Lower end of Chancery Lane, nere the Inner Temple Gate, in Fleetestreet’. The pamphlet, which consists largely of a dialogue between ‘two subtle bawds’ named Antonia and Thais, was written anonymously by a male author who refers to himself only as ‘your Countryman’. As we shall see, though the text had never appeared in English before, it is indeed an old book with a freshly painted face.

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