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‘An ABZ of Love’: Kurt Vonnegut’s vintage go-to guide on sex and sexuality

The great Kurt Vonnegut.

“An erect penis has no resemblance to the kind that they have seen on statues in parks or on small boys paddling the seashore.”

—Authors of An ABZ of Love, Sten and Inge Hegeler on what it is like seeing a penis for the first time.

Inge and Sten Hegeler were a bit like the Danish version of Masters and Johnson, the transformative American research team that revolutionized human sexuality. Hegeler was a psychologist and author who specialized in sexology. In 1948 Hegeler published the book Hvordan, Mor? ( How, Mother?) which was considered one of the first books of its kind to detail such direct, honest advice on how to provide sexual education to kindergarten-aged children. After getting his own psychology practice up and running he and Inge would go on to publish a few other notable books including one that Kurt Vonnegut kept on his own library shelf, An ABZ of Love.

Vonnegut was so taken with the publication that he wrote a letter to his wife letting her know where she could “find” the book in his library. The book itself, which was self-published by the pair in 1962, was exhaustive when it came to its range of information. And I mean they covered everything including topics that were (and are still by some) considered taboo which made ABZ a rather boundary-smashing publication that voiced a clear, positive opinion about equality and its relation to gender, color or one’s sexual identity. They were also fond of using proper words such as “cock,” “pussy” and “fuck” to describe specific actions or attributes within the book’s nearly 300 pages. No wonder Vonnegut adored it enough to write his wife a love-letter of sorts about it. In fact, here’s a short epigrammatic passage from ABZ that sounds a whole lot like Vonnegut wrote the advice himself.

So there are two paths we can take: one is try to deny and suppress our emotions and force ourselves to think sensibly. In this way we run the risk of fooling ourselves.

Hi ho. At this point, it seems pretty clear to me that everyone should own a copy of An ABZ of Love. It is also quite possible that there are many among us that could use a little refresher course on the ins and outs of what we all think about every single day, sex, as it just doesn’t come in one flavor. You know like vanilla? I’ve included many illustrations by Krag from the vintage book, which has been published in fifteen different countries, along with their often amusing captions below. Many are NSFW.

Text reads: “It is possible to be lonely in a group, too.”



Text reads: “A lazy feeling of tenderness.”

Text reads: “A family of nudists like this can scare a while parish out of its wits.”






Inge and Sten Heleger (far right and center) in 1961.
HT: Brain Pickings

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Kurt Vonnegut/Alice Cooper Mutual Admiration Society
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: Unpublished Kurt Vonnegut short stories surface
Kurt Vonnegut’s letter to high school students: ‘Pretend you’re Count Dracula!’
Bad news: Kurt Vonnegut’s bleak advice to humankind in 2088

Posted by Cherrybomb
07:14 am



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