Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 88
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devotes a sizable amount of his journal to recording sexual liaisons with Louisa Lewis and a
plethora of other women, yet he follows these recollections of his sexual conquests-often in the
same journal entry or even the next consecutive sentence (similar to the juxtaposition of his plans
to seduce women with the religious ecstasy he feels in the church scene discussed previously)
with vows to renounce his libertine lifestyle and replace it with a virtuous one in which he
practices temperance and refrains from sexual promiscuity.
Interestingly, despite the fact that both Boswell and Gould are libertines who struggle
with maintaining temperance, Boswell's friendship with Gould does not fit the fictional model
homosocial libertine friendships between men (e.g. Shadwell's Don John and Wycherley's
Horner), especially in terms of competition among libertines. More specifically, Boswell's
revision of libertinism manifests itself in the way he competes with Gould. Boswell qualifies as
an anomaly because he stopped using sex as a way for "providing the means to distinguish
between men and women in polite society, [dominating] those women with whom he had
intercourse...or a way of asserting superiority over other men'" (Carter 128). Though Boswell
does participate in homosocial competition with Gould, he does not participate in it just so he
can compete with Gould for sexual conquests with the same women-the way libertines
typically compete with one another. Alternately, Boswell does not brag about or use his sexual
exploits to establish power over Gould, nor does he praise Gould's promiscuity or try to impress
him by recounting his own sexual experiences. Instead, Boswell chooses to assert his superiority
over Gould by chastising him for his lasciviousness. That is, Boswell uses virtue and
temperance as a means through which he can engage in homosocial competition with Gould.
Once he establishes himself as the superior of the two men, he can then end his lecture to Gould
about the advantages of virtue and still emerge from the conversation as the victor over vice.
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Smith, Victoria. Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell, dissertation, May 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6051/m1/94/?q=rochester: accessed March 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .