Leningrad: Izd. avtora, 1927. Item #1813
204 pp. 20x14 cm. In original wrappers with letterpress design. Fragments of spine lost, covers rubbed, otherwise very good and clean internally.
Second enlarged edition published the same year as the first one. After five editions were printed, the book was banned in 1930.
It is the first and the best known work by Soviet venereologist Lev Fridland (1888-1960). He had been studying at the Medical department of Kyiv University until he was drafted into the army as a doctor. Later he passed graduation exams at Don University. In the 1910s, Fridland worked in hospitals in the Southern part of the Russian Empire. During the Civil War, Fridland was sentenced to death by Whites and then imprisoned for four years of hard labor until the release by the Reds. In the early USSR, Fridland practiced freely and prolifically wrote about medical cases.
‘Behind a Closed Door’ is a rare for the Soviet era publication about the blatant sexual ignorance and promiscuity in contemporary Russia. Such a book was able to be released in the 1920s only, in a short period of developing sexual education. Fridland starts with homosexuality in the early Soviet theater and a venereal case related to it. “The young man worried about spots on his body. He extended his arms and pointed to several pink dots near his elbow. The spots didn’t itch or hurt, but they were unpleasant for him, since professional classes [of ballet] require bare hands. I asked him to undress. I immediately saw a rash on his chest and stomach, which made me examine his groin folds. He blushed deeply and repeated, “I have nothing there. It’s just my hands that worry me”. However, there were swellings under his skin that were palpated like large beads. There was no doubt that the young man had syphilis. He was 16 years old. This disease is treatable. But it is known to us, physicians. For many, syphilis is a scarecrow. Sunken noses, ulcers from which there is no escape... I was washing my hands for a long time and was thinking about how to ease the blow”.
In all, Fridland recalls various patients with syphilis and gonorrhea and gives their stories. This book was certainly welcomed in the early Soviet Union, however the 1930s saw changes in official attitude toward mass sex education. It affected contraception policy, abortion practice and availability of topical information in general.
Among Fridland’s writings are “Destiny under Control. Venereal Diseases and Marriage” (1928), “Something That Shouldn’t Exist. Physician’s Notes on Sexual Suffering” (1928), “Treatment of Urethritis and Their Complications According to the Tansard’s Method” (1929), “Under Anesthesia” (1948), “Elixir of Life” (1948; banned). Thus there was a huge pause between his medical publications.
Cover design was created by type designer and graphic artist Alexander Leo (1868-1943).
Worldcat shows copies of this edition located in Yale and Michigan Universities.