The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud - Vol. 1

By Peter Gay | Go to book overview

Appendix

A Note on the Sexual Symbols
in Mabel Loomis Todd's Diaries

Mabel Todd left some highly informative though by no means easily legible signs of her sexual activity. In her diary she recorded her menstrual periods (at first only their onset) with an "x"; later, more precisely, she used a dot enclosed in a circle (her "period") and followed by "st." for "stop." She marked instances of sexual intercourse—worth remembering for prudential as much as for passionate reasons, what with the couple's reliance on a combination of the rhythm method and coitus interruptus—with the symbol for number (#) followed by a numeral progressing through the year. At times, she would add to this numeral abbreviations either explained or self-explanatory ("f.m.," for example, signified "for me"), or rather harder to solve. I believe that "f.m." stood for an orgasm for her, as, most probably, did the letter "o." Thus, on April 28, 1881, she noted: "Happiest of nights with David—my own. #I5 (o)," and on May I: "8:30 A.M. What a life time of happiness I have had since about 5 A.M.," followed at the end of this day by "#I6 (o)." (Diary 1881, box 39, MLT.) I take the rhythmic rise and fall of her successive entries as well as some individual ones as confirmation. I have already noted one night marked by two successive symbols (see above, p. 83); here is another, from September 22, 1882, just after David had joined his wife in Washington, D.C.: "I am so glad.... #40 f.m., 41 f.m." (Diary 1882, box 39, MLT.)

And yet, her symbolism is not without its conundrums. Thus, on June 30, 1882, David Todd wrote to his wife, asking her to "mark for me

-461-

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The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Books by Peter Gay *
  • The Bourgeois Experience - Victoria to Freud *
  • Contents *
  • Abbreviations *
  • General Introduction *
  • Orientations 3
  • One - The Strain of Definition 17
  • Two - Architects and Martyrs of Change 45
  • Education of the Senses *
  • Bourgeois Experiences, I - An Erotic Record 71
  • One - Sweet Bourgeois Communions 109
  • Two - Offensive Women and Defensive Men 169
  • Three - Pressures of Reality 226
  • Four - Learned Ignorance 278
  • Five - Carnal Knowledge 328
  • Six - Fortifications for the Self 403
  • Appendix 461
  • Bibliographical Essay 463
  • Illustrations and Sources 509
  • Acknowledgments 513
  • Index 517
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