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With and Without Galton

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Nikolai Krementsov

I. “Hygienic” and “Rational” marriage

I. “Hygienic” and “Rational” marriage

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“My friend, let us devote to our Fatherland All our souls’ exalted impulses!”
Alexander Pushkin, 1818

1Considering what is generally known about the history of eugenic thought and of Imperial Russia, a resident of mid-nineteenth-century St. Petersburg seems an unlikely candidate for producing a version of that amalgam of ideas, values, concerns, and actions regarding human heredity, diversity, development, and evolution, which just a couple of decades later Francis Galton would name “eugenics.” Yet Vasilii Florinskii did produce such a version in his 1865 treatise on Human Perfection and Degeneration. This simple fact suggests that, perhaps, we need to re-examine our conceptions of both Russia and eugenics. In order to do so, in the next four chapters I take a close look at the author and the publisher of the treatise and explore its origins, sources, contents, contexts, and reception.

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