The Complete Works of Lyof N. Tolstoï/Introduction to A. Stockham's Tokology

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Introduction to A. Stockham's Tokology
by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Nathan Haskell Dole


THE book here presented does not belong among the vast throng of books of every kind, from those treating of philosophy and science to those treating of art and practical life, books which in differing words, in differing combinations and modifications, utter and reiterate the same familiar old commonplaces.

This book is one of those rare ones which treat, not of what every one is talking about and is necessary to no one, but of something which no one talks about, and is important and necessary to every one.

It is important for parents to know how to behave themselves so as, without excessive suffering, to bring into the world pure and healthy children and it is still more important for the prospective children themselves to be born under the best conditions,—as it says in one of the epigraphs of this book: To be well born is the right of every child.

This book is not one of those that are read merely so that no one may say, "I have not read it," but it is one of those the reading of which leaves something behind, compelling people to change their lives, to correct what was incorrect in them, or at least to think about it.

This book is entitled "Tokology," the science of the birth of children. There are all kinds of very strange sciences, but no such science as this; and yet, next to the science of how to live and how to die, this is the most important of sciences.

This book has had a great success in America, and has had a wide and important influence on American mothers and fathers. In Russia it ought to exert a still greater influence, the question of refraining from tobacco and all kinds of stimulating beverages, beginning with alcohol and ending with tea, the questions of nutrition without taking the lives of animals, vegetarianism, the questions of sexual restraint in family life, and many others, some of them already settled, others still under discussion, and evoking an enormous literature in Europe and America, have with us scarcely, as yet, been touched upon; and therefore Dr. Stockham's book is especially important for us: it immediately transports the reader into a new world of vital human impulse.

In this book every thoughtful woman—it is especially designed for women—will find first and foremost that there is not the slightest necessity for her to continue living so blindly as old women and young girls have been living, but that she may and must find better ways of living, using for this purpose science, the experience of people, and her own free thought; and as a first example of such a method of treatment she will find in this book many precious counsels, and hints which will make life easier for herself, for her husband, and for her children.

February 14, 1890.

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