Uses and Pleasures of the Rod front cover

Uses and Pleasures of the Rod front cover

by Lady Cynthia Lovebirch & Others
Published in 1972 by Venus Library

If the cover and publisher’s note is accurate, this book was published in Victorian England.  While searches of the book’s title and author proved fruitless on shedding light on this claim, the plot and language of the book certainly lend it credence.

The book pretends to be the report of a series of lectures given in the homes of various high society ladies as they share with each other the virtues of corporal punishment for not only the correction of wayward ladies but for their erotic amusement.  There really isn’t much plot here per se; each of the various “lectures” includes a demonstration of corporal punishment and introduces a new wrinkle in the manners of spanking, whipping, and/or flagellation and includes an episode of lesbianism.  While some readers might find the lack of plot development here off-putting, pervert that I am, the lack of plot bothered me not one whit.

When I began reading the book, the dated Victorian prose was a bit difficult to discern, especially because so much of what transpires is described euphemistically.  However, as I continued reading not only did I grow more comfortable with the prose, I felt enamored with the beauty of the language used.  Reading this book made it almost seems possible that folks I have known who reported they enjoy Shakespeare because of the beauty of his prose weren’t pulling my leg after all. Almost.

In addition to the lovely prose, this book includes lots of obscure words I hope to add to my active vocabulary.  For instance, tribade (in this work it is merely a synonym for lesbian, though apparently it is more properly lesbian frottage), Calligype (I presume a noun form of Callipygian: having finely developed buttocks), rotundities (self-explanatory), and so many terms for various sorts of women’s undergarments I lost track.  If my elementary school teachers would have used this book as a source for vacabulary lists, the school-aged me would have enjoyed English class instead of dreading it.

There is one point of warning; many of the spanking victims are teenaged servants.  However given the age when this was presumably written their inclusion can be forgiven.

If you enjoy lesbianism, Victorian writing, corporal punishment, old time women’s underwear, or flogging, spanking, and the like, Uses and Pleasures of the Rod is for you.  If not, why are you here anyway?