In the year 1888 Lev Tolstoy decided that human sexual intercourse should no longer exist. Tolstoy was, as he later admitted, ‘horrified’ by this conclusion. Yet for the rest of his life he honestly believed that total sexual abstinence was best. Frequenter of brothels in his youth, father of 13 children by his wife, and at least two children by peasant women before he was married,1 Tolstoy now had the arrogance to suggest that it would be a good idea if people stopped having children. This ‘tireless fucker’, as he referred to his younger self in conversation with Maksim Gorky,2 was repudiating an essential part of himself, and of humanity generally.
KeywordsLiterary Work Sexual Abstinence Moral Feeling Psychoanalytic Concept Psychoanalytic Study
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