This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Julio Mario Santo Domingo collection.
Previous posts in this space have focused on the erotica in the Santo Domingo Collection, but prurience is not the only aspect of sexuality to be found there: the medical, psychological, and social history of sex are amply represented as well. Today we have a work of strident moralism: Man and his sexual relations by John Thompson, published in 1890. Thompson, also the author of several works on phrenology, writes with urgency on the subject of sex, laying blame for many of our physical and mental ills at the doorstep of overindulgence. He claims, for instance, that “the majority of even those who are suffering from sterility would have children if they were temperate sexually” (v.1, p. 177), and ascribes insanity, criminal tendencies, and suicide to childhood self-abuse. The urgency with which Thompson expounds on these positions frequently leads to such melodramatic and violent language as this, in the course of his excoriation of seductresses:
Later in the text, Thompson provides perhaps the ideal summation of his argument: “I know of nothing so perverted as man’s sexual nature. Society is rotten—rotten to its very core!” (v.2, p. 129)
John Thompson. Man and his sexual relations. South Cliff, Scarborough, [Eng.]: J.B. Keswick, Broughton House, 1890. HQ36.T5 1890x.
Thanks to rare book cataloger Ryan Wheeler for contributing this post.