Woodslane Online Catalogues
Tolstoy on the Couch
Misogyny, Masochism, and the Absent Mother
- In 1888, Leo Tolstoy mysteriously declared that sexual intercourse should no longer exist. Years later he would admit to being "horrified" by this pronouncement, but still remained an ardent believer in sexual abstinence. Frequenter of brothels in his youth, father of thirteen children by his wife and at least two children by peasant women before he was married, Tolstoy now had the audacity to suggest that people should stop having sex. How can such a repudiation be explained? Beginning with Tolstoy's Kreutzer Sonata-his first written "declaration of war on human sexuality"--Tolstoy on the Couch takes us on a sweeping psychoanalytic tour of Tolstoy's diaries and other private materials, revealing that behind his campaign for celibacy lay a painful and complicated drama of early childhood. Rooting Tolstoy's polarized feelings about women and sexuality in his uncontrollable rage toward the mother who died when he was a toddler, Rancour-Laferriere offers profound psychobiographic insights into Tolstoy's lifelong animosity toward women--and into the women he loved to hate.
- Daniel Rancour-Laferriere is Professor of Russian at the University of California, Davis. He is the author of many books, including The Slave Soul of Russia and Self-Analysis in Literary Study, both available from NYU Press.
- "This stimulating, courageous, wide-ranging account of the psychopathology of Tolstoy may be as warmly recommended to the novice as to the seasoned scholar. It is a penetrating, richly rewarding account of a fascinating subject." -Slavic and East European Journal
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