Samuel Pepys, the English seventeenth-century author, politician, administrator of the English navy and Member of Parliament, makes a repeated appearance in Bobker’s The Closet: The Eighteenth-Century Architecture of Intimacy. In the prelude to chapter 1, for instance, we discover Pepys’s obsession with his closet projects; from redecoration to construction, these small, intimate rooms, which required at a minimum four walls and a lockable door, “were always on his mind.” In the prelude to chapter 2, meanwhile, it is Pepys’s awareness of the value of secret closet affairs, socially and financially, that are at the focus of our attention. The reader is introduced to the evolution of the eighteenth century’s “material culture of excretion” and “the emergence of a technology capable of instantly flushing away waste” in the prelude to chapter 3. As Bobker surmises, if the “house of office” seems to have held relatively little interest for Pepys, then...

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