The Keys to Happiness: Sex and the Search for Modernity in Fin-de-Siecle Russia by Laura EngelsteinThe Keys to Happiness: Sex and the Search for Modernity in Fin-de-Siecle Russia by Laura Engelstein

The Keys to Happiness: Sex and the Search for Modernity in Fin-de-Siecle Russia

byLaura Engelstein

Paperback | July 28, 1994

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The revolution of 1905 challenged not only the social and political structures of imperial Russia but the sexual order as well. Throughout the decade that followed-in the salons of the artistic and intellectual avant-garde, on the pages of popular romances, in the staid assemblies of physicians, psychiatrists, and legal men—the talk everywhere was of sex. This eagerly awaited book, echoing the title of a pre-World War I bestseller, The Keys to Happiness, marks the first serious attempt to understand the intense public interest in sexuality as a vital dimension of late tsarist political culture. Drawing on a strong foundation of historical sources—from medical treatises and legal codes to anti-Semitic pamphlets, commercial fiction, newspaper advertisements, and serious literature—Laura Engelstein shows how Western ideas and attitudes toward sex and gender were transformed in the Russian context as imported views on prostitution, venereal disease, homosexuality, masturbation, abortion, and other themes took on distinctively Russian hues. Engelstein divides her study into two parts, the first focusing on the period from the Great Reforms to 1905 and on the two professional disciplines most central to the shaping of a modern sexual discourse in Russia: law and medicine. The second part describes the complicated sexual preoccupations that accompanied the mobilization leading up to 1905, the revolution itself, and the aftermath of continued social agitation and intensified intellectual doubt. In chapters of astonishing richness, the author follows the sexual theme through the twists of professional and civic debate and in the surprising links between high and low culture up to the eve of the First World War. Throughout, Engelstein uses her findings to rethink the conventional wisdom about the political and cultural history of modern Russia. She maps out new approaches to the history of sexuality, and shows, brilliantly, how the study of attitudes toward sex and gender can help us to grasp the most fundamental political issues in any society.

Laura Engelstein is Henry S. McNeil Professor of Russian History at Yale University. She is the author of Castration and the Heavenly Kingdom: A Russian Folktale, The Keys to Happiness: Sex and the Search for Modernity in Fin-de-Siécle Russia, both from Cornell, and Moscow, 1905: Working-Class Organization and Political Conflict. She i...
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Title:The Keys to Happiness: Sex and the Search for Modernity in Fin-de-Siecle RussiaFormat:PaperbackDimensions:480 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 1.07 inPublished:July 28, 1994Publisher:Cornell University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801499585

ISBN - 13:9780801499586

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Editorial Reviews

"[Engelstein's] sensitivity to the interplay of conceptions of gender and class with politics and science makes the book valuable not only to Russianists, but to historians of culture and society in general.... Laura Engelstein has made a remarkable contribution to the scholarly literature."

- Journal of the History of Sexuality