N. M. Iovetz-Tereshchenko


N. M. Iovetz-Tereshchenko (1895–1954), BLitt (Oxon), PhD (London): Tutor in Psychology and Philosophy under the University of London Tutorial Classes Committee and the Workers’ Educational Association. Friendship-Love in Adolescence (London, 1936) carried this blurb:

This is a book written to describe scientifically the friendships and loves of adolescence and to establish the special character of romantic experience at that age. It deals in particular with the mental development of an individual boy and his attachments to other adolescents, both boys and girls … On the evidence of these documents (diaries, letters, stories) the author claims, in opposition to much modern dogma, that love is not a sexual phenomenon, and he has had the courage to clarify his argument by giving an exact definition of the sexual.

See Robert Crawford, ‘T. S. Eliot, A. D. Lindsay and N. M. Tereshchenko’, Balliol College Annual Record 1983:

In 1920 Nicholas Mikhailovich Iovetz-Tereshchenko left Russia for Yugoslavia where he became for six years a secondary schoolmaster in schools for Russian refugees. In 1926 he came to Oxford, and two years later graduated B. Litt. in Russian Literature from St Catherine’s Society. By 1929 he was lecturing in Oxford in Slavonic subjects. His first and only book, Friendship-Love in Adolescence … was the outcome of Iovetz-Tereshchenko’s doctoral dissertation in psychology written at London University where he was by that time a tutor in psychology and philosophy under the auspices of the University of London Tutorial Classes Committee, the Workers’ Educational Association, and the University of Oxford Extension Lectures Committee. One of those thanked in the book’s preface for reading the original typescript is T. S. Eliot.

That Eliot was interested in such a book should not be surprising. As a graduate student of philosophy at Harvard he had taken a laboratory course in experimental psychology, and had been interested in the work of Janet and Ribot. In Dante, published in 1929 … Eliot discusses in the context of Dante and Beatrice what was to be the subject of the Russian’s book:

‘In the first place, the type of sexual experience which Dante describes as occurring to him at the age of nine years is by no means impossible or unique. My only doubt (in which I find myself confirmed by a distinguished psychologist) is whether it could have taken place so late in life as the age of nine years. The psychologist agreed with me that it is more likely to occur at about five or six years of age’ (Selected Essays, 3rd enlarged edn [1951], 273).

Eliot and Iovetz-Tereshchenko had other interests in common in addition to that dealt with in this passage. Both men were Christians … And both, of course, were interested in literature. In 1941 Iovetz-Tereshchenko was lecturing in Oxford on ‘Some Psychological Theories concerning the Aesthetic Experience, Love, and the Religious Experience.’

On 6 Apr. 1954 TSE was to write to the Superintendent, St Joseph’s Home for the Dying, Mare Street, Hackney, London:

Dear Sir or Madam, I am writing on behalf of a needy and deserving person, to enquire the terms and conditions on which you accept patients.

I write having been informed that you accept Christians of all denominations. The patient in question is a Russian who fled from Odessa early in the present regime: he is a devout and studious Orthodox who carries out his duties as far as is possible to a paralysed bed-ridden man, and who is visited by a priest of his own church. He is particularly anxious, if he should have – as is possible in the near future – to be transported to a hospital to end his days there, to be placed in a hospital or home where he would be cared for by Sisters of a religious order.

Dr Tereshchenko is a scholar holding degrees from London and Oxford, and was for several years a Lecturer in Psychology at Balliol College. I have known him for some years and can vouch for his character and Christian faith. The latter, indeed, may have been a handicap in securing a suitable permanent appointment. Shortly after the end of the war he finally received such an appointment; but almost immediately he was the victim of a stroke which has kept him in bed ever since. He is gradually becoming feebler, and it will soon be beyond the strength of his wife (herself suffering from painful trouble with her feet, for which she underwent an operation) to care for him at home. He has a married son in Guiana and a married daughter in North America; but his children are unable to give him financial help, and his income is, with public relief, absolutely minimal.

If this man, who is highly deserving and has suffered great hardships, is a case such as you would consider, he would like to know on what terms you could receive him; also, whether you are able to give any patients a room to themselves, and if so what your minimum terms would be.

I have no doubt that if your answer is generally favourable, you will want to have a report from the physician attending him, whom I should then put in touch with you. I should explain that the reason why I am writing (as someone who has taken an interest in him for some years) is that Dr Tereshchenko is no longer able to write letters himself, and his wife has no sufficient command of English to enter upon correspondence.

I enclose a stamped envelope addressed to myself; and shall be grateful for your considerate reply.

TSE to the Consul-General, American Embassy, London, 2 July 1956:

Mrs Tereshchenko is of Russian origin, but she and her husband became British subjects by naturalisation in 1944. I had known them for perhaps ten years before that. Her husband, in whose career I took a keen interest, took his Ph.D. in this country, and had taught psychology and lectured at Oxford University and elsewhere. After he had a stroke and became bedridden I used to visit him about once a month, until he died some two years ago. In this way I came to know the Tereshchenkos very well … The Tereshchenkos got out of Russia in 1920; the husband was, and his widow still is, a devout Orthodox Catholic Christian, and I have never heard either of them speak of the present Russian regime – the regime from the Revolution to the present time – with anything but strong antipathy. Indeed, Tereshchenko regarded the present Russian regime as the reign of Anti-Christ.

On 11 Oct. 1954 Dr N. N. Tereshchenko (Croydon, Surrey) wrote to say he had found ‘the enclosed “Diary of an Adolescent Boy” which I know my father had always hoped to see published one day’. TSE responded, 8 Nov. 1954: ‘it seems to me that your father’s book has covered the subject so well that the DIARY could hardly be treated as more than an appendix.’