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.

May 17, 2017

May 17, 1873

Following is a reprint of one of my best posts.

Dorothy Richardson (May 17, 1873 to June 17,1957) is considered a pioneer in modernist literary technique. Her husband Alan Odle was also an artist  with a cutting edge sensibility---his cartoons combine an art nouveau style with a noir sensibility. Dorothy was the breadwinner and they lived mainly on money from articles she sold. Their last years were spent in Cornwall.

Interim (1919) was one of her novels. It was serialized first in The Little Review, where it appeared with Joyce's Ulysses. We include a few pages of Richardson's story below: the scene is a gathering of academics at the home of one of them. My interest is the view of science presented here.

"I doubt if ever there'll come a time when we'll have live humanity in our experimental laboratories."

"Science has got to go ahead anyway."

"But if it goes ahead by forcing...sensitive creatures; with .... sensitive nervous 

systems, to bear fear and pain .... we shall lose more morally than we shall gain scientifically, even if we gain scientifically and we don't because nearly everyone is ill."

"You consider knowledge can be bought at too high a price."

"Well; look at the continental luminaries; where there are no restrictions; they don't even
care about their patients, only diseases interest them, and in general, not only in science, they don't really know anything, the Germans and the French, you have only to look at them. They are brutal."

"That's a large statement. If you'll pardon me I should say there's a certain amount of insular prejudice in that."

"I have not a scrap of insular prejudice. I like foreigners. They are more intelligent than
Englishmen. But there's something they don't know that makes them all alike. I once heard a wealthy old Jew say that he'd go to Germany for diagnosis and to England for treatment, and he'd had operations and illnesses all over the world. That expresses it."

"You infer that the English have more humanity."

"They don't regard the patient as a case in the way continentals do."

"Well I guess when we're sick we all like to go home."

"You mean the Jew had no home. But he chose the English to go home to when he was ill."

"That's true in more senses than one. This country's been a home for the Jews right away

"It's a great country. That's sure."

"Science has got to go away ahead. If you're going to be humanitarians over here you must
leave continental science out of your scheme. So long as you carry out their results you can't honestly cry down their methods."

"You must cry down their methods if you don't approve of them."

"You can't put back. You can't prevent association between the different lands; especially
in matters of science."

"You can't have it both ways. Each man must pursue one line or another."

"Poor dears yes."

"You're inclined to pity us all."

"That's English humanitarianism may be."

"I'm not a humanitarian. I can't bear humanity, in the mass. I think it's a frightful

"A fairly solid idea."

"I prefer....the equator, and the moon, and the plane of the ecliptic;I think the plane of
the ecliptic is a perfectly lovely thing."

"It's a scientific discovery."

"Yes but not on the body of an animal."

"The body of the chap who began all that had some pretty hard sufferings."

"Do you know the schoolboy's definition of the equator?"

"No, but I guess it's a good one."

"A menagerie lion running round the world once in every twenty-four hours. I think it's an
absolutely perfect idea."

"I guess that's good enough to stop on."

Richardson may have written the above verbatim from a social gathering.  I am not sure whether she had cats or not, but her heart was in a fine place.

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