Before the Victorian Era began to ascend to its place in history the English still proffered to the world a view that they were upright, strict and full of virtue yet lurking in the shadows were others who were about to subvert this thinking with their erotic and pornographic writing. In The Lustful Turk, or Lascivious Scenes from a Harem, which was first published in 1828 full rein is given to an intoxicating mix of English women, Foreign men, rape and anal sex. The novel is written largely in the form of a series of letters written by its heroine, Emily Barlow, to her friend, Sylvia Carey. When Emily sails from England for India in June 1814 her ship is attacked by Moorish pirates and she is taken to the harem of Ali, dey of Algiers. Ali rapes her and subjects her to his will, awakening her sexual passions. Emily's debasement continues when Ali insists on anal sex, arousing the horror of her correspondent Sylvia, who expresses her indignation at Ali's behaviour, in a letter that the latter intercepts. Annoyed at her attitude, Ali arranges for Sylvia to be abducted and brought to the slave market of Algiers. Here Ali pretends to be a sympathetic Frenchman, bidding to save her from sexual slavery, and engaging her in a fake marriage; he deflowers her and awakens her sexuality, as he had previously with Emily. Naturally enough this is not the end but merely a pause before the sexual encounters begin again. The book was one of those condemned as obscene and the subject of a trial in 1857. Perhaps its original introduction was not coy enough ‘Or Scenes in the Harum of an Eastern Potentate faithfully and vividly depicting in a series of letters from a young and beautiful English lady to her friend in England the full particulars of her ravishment and of her complete abandonment to all the salacious tastes of the Turks, the whole being described with that zest and simplicity which always gives guarantee of authenticity.’
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