Thanksgiving Is Ruined
September 30, 2008
wipeout/oblivion calling/Year Zero
"What you crave under the name of death is forgetfulness. You yourself compressed the whole truth into five words when you said: 'To live is to remember.' Your inference was that to die is to forget. It is memory that agonizes you; it is the past which lives in memory that handicaps you, that hangs like a mill-stone round your neck, and goads you to despair. If you could forget, if you could erase the entire past from your consciousness, you would cease to suffer. Is that not true?"
[Some of Harland's repeated efforts to wipe clean and restart his own identity are discussed engagingly and with an admirable shortage of the requisite crit jargon in Prof. Stephanie Foote's "Ethnic Plotting: Henry Harland and the Jewish Writer," available here.
Harland's novel is on Google Books here. On page 182 appears a partial reproduction of someone's thumb.
From a review of the novel in the July 19, 1890 issue of Samuel R. Crocker's The Literary World:
The story is of a wonderful operation performed on a woman's brain by which memory became a blank . . . .
Volume 21 (1890) of The Literary World is here.
A striking description of Crocker appears in Samuel Greene Wheeler Benjamin's The Life and Adventures of a Free Lance (1914), here, at page 290.
We stumbled onto the Harland review and novel in attempts to research the roots of a quote attributed, as easily happens, to Mark Twain. We then discovered that the research previously had been done and better than we could have, as easily happens, by Volokh.
The novel and review were published in 1890. So why is TiR blogging about it only now? How dare we not blog about them at the time of their publication -- if not earlier?? As is proper?? How lazy. How typical. Why the inexcusable delay?
Because TiR is very behind in its reading.