The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

December 10, 2011

December 10, 1951

Algernon Blackwood, (March 14, 1869 to December 10, 1951) was a prolific writer, of short stories mainly. He is considered a master of the horror genre. However in Blackwood's case, his writing seems to be concerned with inducing a sense of awe often also. He himself said; "My fundamental interest, I suppose, is signs and proofs of other powers that lie hidden in us all; the extension, in other words, of human faculty. " This approach,--mixing the uncanny and the ungodly, which is foreign to some religious ambitions, is not rare. Modern writers like Colin Wilson apparently share it. Such writers do not appreciate the rarity of the religious gift. 

Blackwood was a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, as well as other organizations like The Ghost Club. His long short story, "A Psychical Invasion," appears in Carl Van Vechten's anthology of cat stories, The Lords of the Housetops, (1921). This volume is available free at; Van Vechten is one of the most literate and devoted of cat people. Our excerpt from Blackwood's story he includes, the main plot of which involves a man who investigates a haunted house, discusses the cat and dog our hero selects to accompany him on his investigation:

The animals, by whose sensitiveness he intended to test any unusual conditions in the atmosphere of the building, Dr. Silence selected with care and judgment. He believed (and had already made curious experiments to prove it) that animals were more often, and more truly, clairvoyant than human beings. Many of them, he felt convinced, possessed powers of perception far superior to that mere keenness of the senses common to all dwellers in the wilds where the senses grow specially alert; they had what he termed "animal clairvoyance," and from his experiments with horses, dogs, cats, and even birds, he had drawn certain deductions, which, however, need not be referred to in detail here.
Cats, in particular, he believed, were almost continuously conscious of a larger field of vision, too detailed even for a photographic camera, and quite beyond the reach of normal human organs. He had, further, observed that while dogs were usually terrified in the presence of such phenomena, cats on the other hand were soothed and satisfied. They welcomed manifestations as something belonging peculiarly to their own region.

No comments: