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Portal Site for Russellian in Japan


Bertrand Russell's Best; Silhouettes in Satire,
selected and introduced by Robert E. Egner.
(London; Allen & Unwin, 1958. 113 p. 20 cm.)

An essay introducing the section 'Sex and Marriage'

Lord Russell's views on marriage and the problems of sex have been subject to bitter controversy, especially in the United States. Criticism has been centred chiefly upon his refusal to sanction ancient sexual tabus. In an age, such as the present, when conformity is virtue, dissent is often confused with subversion. The very mention of Lord Russell's name in counection with sexual ethics has caused hatred in the minds of the more stereotyped. Sex and sin are synonymous terms for those who view life in the light of superstitious moral codes. It can scarcely be denied that until recent years any scientific occupation with sex had been considered wicked.
Lord Russell's book, Marriage and Morals, created such a storm of protest that he was legally deprived of a professorship at the City College of New York in 1940. It was thought, by those in power, that any one who would write such a book was unfit to teach. Similar reactions occurred elsewhere, and for a time he was subject to an almost complete boycott throughout the United States. Few books have been subject to such violent controversy. Part of this controversy stems from the fact that most people like to believe themselves more rational than they actually are. If married persons find themselves incompatible, the opponents of reason seem to think that they should go on comfortably thinking themselves in a state of marital bliss. Lord Russell feels that this is an outcome of tabu morality.
Some of the selections in this chapter are taken from Marriage and Morals and show Lord Russell at his wittiest. The humour displayed in the pages which follow is not intended, however, to be amusing for its own sake. Naivete' is one thing, wisdom is another; it is hoped that readers will bear this difference in mind.