In 1926, Russian Marxist author Andrey Platonov composed The Anti-Sexus, a remarkable text which remained, like so many of his other writings, unpublished during his lifetime.
The work is a fictional brochure, issued by the company Berkman, Châteloy, and Son, Ltd. and “translated” from French by Platonov, that advertised an electromagnetic instrument promising to relieve sexual urges in an efficient and hygienic manner.
The device, available in both male and female models, had a special regulator for the duration of pleasure and could be fitted for either personal or collective use. The purported occasion for the pamphlet was the company’s expansion into the Soviet market after its success in many other parts of the world.
The brochure includes a statement touting the virtues of the “Anti-Sexus” and the company’s mission to “abolish the sexual savagery of mankind,” and is followed by testimonials by a number of illustrious figures, from Henry Ford and Oswald Spengler to Gandhi and Mussolini.
The Anti-Sexus, we are told, has many benefits and applications: it is perfect for maintaining soldiers’ morale during wartime, for improving the efficiency of factory workers, for taming restless natives in the colonies. It also fosters true friendship and human understanding by taking sexual folly out of the social equation.
The “translator” has added a critical preface where he condemns the cynicism and vulgarity of the enterprise, even while praising the pamphlet’s writerly merits. He explains that the reason he decided to publish the text was to openly reveal the bourgeoisie’s moral bankruptcy. No Bolshevik can read this capitalist drivel without a hearty laugh. The Anti-Sexus thus advertises itself as the surest form of “contra-‘antisexual’ agitprop.”
—Sex and Anti-Sex: Introduction to Andrei Platonov’s Anti-Sexus
by Aaron Schuster
This is the reprint from Cabinet of the first English translation, by Anne O. Fisher, of Andrei Platonov’s The Anti-Sexus, written in 1926. Originally signed “Andrei Platonov, translator from the French,” the text purported to be a promotional pamphlet translated into Russian by Platonov. The Anti-Sexus was not published in its original Russian until 1981, when it was included in a special issue of Russian Literature, with annotations provided by Thomas Langerak; the endnotes provided here rely heavily on his authoritative commentary.