bodice-ripper (1978), bodice-ripping (1979)

Charles C Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Tue May 6 14:49:33 UTC 2014

I question the descriptor "sexually explicit" in the OED's definition!

Of course, such explicitness would be a matter of degree.  But aren't bodice rippers typically aimed at "proper" women who enjoy a bit of oblique spiciness?  Such novels, sold at airport newsstands, are a far cry from porn!

Well, maybe to the sensibility of English women, they do count as porn?

Poster:       Ben Zimmer-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

OED has "bodice-ripper" = 'a sexually explicit romantic novel' from
Sept. 1979. Slightly earlier:

Charitey Simmons, "Dizzying Passion Ruffles the Pages of 'Hot' Historical Novel"
Chicago Tribune, Feb. 8, 1978, Section 2, p. 4, col. 1
Publishers call them hot historicals as opposed to either the virginal
variety Barbara Cartland writes or to the bodice rippers "because
that's usually what happens to the heroines," Price [sc. Linda Price
of Bantam Books] explained.

And here's the verbal noun "bodice-ripping":

Suzanne Dolezal, "Sizzling Formula for Selling Books"
Boston Globe, Feb. 21, 1979, p. 59, col. 1
[Barbara Alpert of Ballantine Books:] "The books are geared to women's
sensitivities -- ideal love with a little bodice-ripping. You don't
take them seriously."


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