Книга рассказывает о сексуальной жизни в дореволюционной России. Описывает обычаи в семейной жизни, сексуальные отклонения и преступления на сексуальной почве, женскую преступность, подростковый секс, и т.д.
Drawing on printed sources, principally legal and medical records and avant-garde and boulevard literature, Engelstein (history, Princeton Univ.) discusses attitudes toward sexuality and gender in prerevolutionary Russia. Topics covered include the regulation of family life, sexual deviance and crime, female crime, prevention of syphilis, juvenile sex, abortion, and the literature of free love. There is a chapter on Vasilii Rozanov, a social reactionary who combined virulent anti-Semitism with outspoken support of sexual freedom. A discussion of the wildly popular novel, The Keys to Happiness (1910-13), traces the career of a fictional "new woman," a Russian Isadora Duncan who moves from sexual liberation to self-inflicted death in the space of seven years. Engelstein depicts a Russia painfully groping its way toward modernity, with a watershed in attitudes occurring following the revolution of 1905. A thorough, if somewhat pedestrian, study.