Saturday, September 23, 2017

Adam's Rib – Allegory or History? by A. J. Maas, S.J 1893

Adam's Rib – Allegory or History? by A. J. Maas, S.J 1893

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Plato, in the fourteenth section of his Symposium, relates the history of the formation of man and woman in the beginning of creation. He tells how originally they were but one being, possessed of two heads, four arms and so forth, and endowed with wondrous strength; how this powerful creature in the pride of its life, attempted to scale the heavens, threatening to invade the stronghold of the gods; how Jupiter thereupon resolved to weaken the power of his creature by cutting it in twain, thus forming two beings very like each other and partly dependent upon one another for help. 

No intelligent student of Holy Writ can fail to recognize in this story of the Greek philosopher the distorted record of a tradition which had lost its original likeness in being coupled with the extravagant myths of pagan superstition. Compared with Plato's account, whose cynicism is easily understood, how different in motive and tone is the Mosaic record of man's first creation. “And the Lord God said,” we read in Gen. ii, 18 ff., “it is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a help like unto himself. And the Lord God having formed out of the ground all the beasts of the earth and all the fowls of the air, brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: for whatsoever Adam called any living creature the same is its name. And Adam called all the beasts by their names, and all the fowls of the air, and all the cattle of the field: but for Adam there was not found a helper like himself. Then the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon Adam; and when he was fast asleep, He took one of his ribs and filled up flesh for it. And the Lord God built the rib which He took from Adam into a woman, and brought her to Adam. And Adam said: This is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman because she is taken out of man.” 

In place of the flippant cynicism of the philosopher, we have here the sober earnestness of the inspired writer; in place of the supreme egotism of the heathen gods—it is not good for them that man is one—the scriptural writer indicates the loving care of the Lord God over His creatures—“it is not good for man to be alone.” According to Plato, the division of the one man into two is a punishment: “but if they shall think fit to behave licentiously, and are not willing to keep quiet,” said Jupiter, “I will again divide them, each into two, so that they shall go upon one leg, hopping.” According to Moses, Eve's formation is only the execution of the decree: “let us make him a help like unto himself.” The Greek philosopher tells of Jupiter's ordering Apollo “to turn the face and half of the neck [of every man cut into two] to that part where the section had taken place, in order that seeing the cutting man might be better behaved than before.” The inspired writer knows of no such distortion of man following Eve's formation; all he tells us is that God took one of Adam's ribs and built it into a woman. It is true that Plato's gods heal the wounds resulting from the bisecting operation: Apollo “pulling the skin together on every side like a contracted purse over that which is now called the belly . . . tied it up at the middle of the belly, now called the navel. He then smoothed the greater part of the remainder of the skin and jointed the breast, having an instrument such as shoemakers use when they smooth wrinkles of the leather on the last. But he left a few wrinkles on the belly and navel as a memorial of their original suffering.” Moses knows nothing of all these philosophic dreams; he soberly tells us that the Lord God took one of Adam’s ribs, and filled up flesh for it. According to Plato's account, men after their bisection died of famine and idleness, because “they had a great desire to grow together,” even as Narcissus died by constantly viewing in the water the reflection of his body, with which he had fallen in love. The inspired idea of love differs widely from the pagan.
“This is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man. Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh.” And in post-Mosaic times, this will be a great sacrament, but “in Christ and in the Church.” What Plato adds about man's original locomotion after the manner of tumblers, and about his turning in a circle on his eight limbs, is so flippant and manifestly absurd that it cannot bear comparison with Moses' account of man's primeval dignity. 

Considering all these striking discrepancies between Moses and Plato, their agreement about the one fact that woman has been formed out of man becomes the more remarkable. Whether Plato learned this truth from an ancient tradition, or from his intercourse with the Jews and his perusal of their sacred books, is a question beyond the present scope of the writer. All we desire to point out, is that the inspired record of Eve's production, understood in its literal sense, involves none of the absurdities which are at times ascribed to it. Even Voltaire has been obliged to confess that the Mosaic record, regarded as an allegory, contains a most beautiful and instructive lesson concerning the unalterable peace and love which ought to exist in married life, where  the souls of the consorts ought to be one, even as their bodies are one. We might reply, that if Moses’ account, taken allegorically, is so eminently instructive, why should it lose this characteristic in its literal sense? At least, it ought to be granted that from this point of view the real occurrence of events, narrated in the Mosaic account, is not opposed to sound reason. 

But Voltaire has not even the merit of being the first to view Moses’ report of Eve's formation as an allegory. Philo says: “What has been said about this, is a fable. For how can one admit that a woman, or a human being in general, has been made out of the rib of a man? And what can prevent God from forming woman out of the earth, as He has formed man? There is the same agent in both cases, and the material is almost infinite.” And further on, Philo reasons as so many of the later rationalists have reasoned after him: Was it the right or the left rib out of which Eve was made? Why could not Eve be formed out of the organic or inorganic bodies which existed in Paradise in abundance? Origen's love for Philo's allegorical explanation of the Old Testament history is too well known to need special mention here. But even the later writers, explaining the history of Eve's production from a Christian point of view, have given it an allegorical meaning. Cajetan, among others, has acquired special notoriety on account of the reasons he gives for the allegorical interpretation, reasons which are taken both from the text of Moses’ account and from its context.

1.—The text, Cajetan argues, taken literally, involves an absurdity. For the rib taken from Adam, was either one of the ordinary number, or it was an extraordinary, supernumerary one. If it was one of the ordinary number, Adam after Eve's formation was a cripple. If the rib out of which Eve was formed, was a supernumerary one, Adam had been created a monster. Now both of these consequences contradict sound reason. 

Moreover, the argument of the text's literal meaning, based on God's pronouncing the words “it is not good for man to be alone” after Adam's creation, and on Eve's formation subsequent to these words, is met in the marginal notes of Cajetan.” The phrase, we are told, is nothing but an expression of the divine decree regulating God’s general economy concerning man. Chronologically speaking, therefore, Eve was not formed after Adam's creation, but both were produced simultaneously. 

2.–In the second place, the Cardinal argues for the allegorical meaning of the history of Eve's formation from its context. 

a.—According to the literal meaning of the context, the author says, God seeks among all the beasts of the earth and the fowls of the air for a help like to Adam. Only when He cannot find what He seeks, God proceeds to the formation of Eve. Hence, the context's literal meaning is not in keeping with the divine dignity. 

b.—Again, the real production of Eve had taken place on the sixth day of creation, for we read in Gen. i, 27: “And God created man to His own image; to the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.” Consequently, we cannot suppose that the account of the second chapter of Genesis according to which Eve is built later out of the rib of Adam, must be taken in a literal sense. 

c.—This view is confirmed by God's command: “Increase and multiply, and fill the earth,” a command which would have been unintelligible had not Eve existed at the time of its utterance. And how could Jesus Christ appeal to the same words as indicating marriage, if they were spoken to Adam alone? Hence, the account of Eve's formation as set forth in the second chapter of Genesis is nothing but an allegory. 

On the other hand, we must keep in mind the words of St. Paul:” “For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man.” If this verse is taken allegorically, and it is an allegory, if Cajetan’s interpretation is correct, how can the Apostle infer from it: “Therefore ought the woman have a power over her head,” i.e., ought to be subject to man? Surely, such a weighty conclusion, which affects the most vital interests of human society, cannot be drawn from a mere allegory of conjugal love and peace. 

There is another passage in the writings of St. Paul, in which the Apostle again insists on the fact of Adam and Eve not being formed simultaneously: “Let the woman learn in silence, with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to use authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.” What logical value can this argument of the Apostle claim, if its premises are metaphors, if the biblical history of Eve's formation is an allegory? 

St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Bernard, St. Thomas see in the formation of Eve out of Adam’s rib a type of the formation of the Church out of the side of the crucified Redeemer. Had these great writers regarded the history of Eve's formation as Cardinal Cajetan views it, they would have hardly found such a type in a mere allegory. St. Basil, St. Ambrose, St. Thomas, Pererius and many others believe that Eve was formed in Paradise, while Adam had been created outside of Paradise. And, though this opinion does not of itself exclude the allegorical meaning of the Mosaic account, it certainly destroys an integral portion of the Allegorists theory, i.e., the simultaneous creation of Adam and Eve. Origen, St. Chrysostom, Eucherius, St. Thomas, Catharini and others go so far as to place Eve's formation after the sixth day of creation. Their principal reason seems to be the fact that God is twice introduced as speaking in forming Adam and Eve,” while generally a creation-day includes only one divine word. On looking over the Mosaic record, we see that this last principle is not fully correct; the third creation-day comprises two divine words, the first gathering the waters in one place, the second producing herbs and plants, and even on the sixth day God had spoken more than once before Eve's formation, first making the beasts of the earth and then forming Adam out of the slime of the earth. But whether the above authors’ reasoning be correct or not, in any case they repudiate the allegorists thesis that Adam and Eve were created simultaneously. 

It is hardly necessary to state the reasons which induced the earlier commentators to explain the Mosaic account of Eve's formation literally. Several are enumerated by St. Thomas' in his customary lucid way.

1.—Adam’s dignity as head and father of the whole human race is thus clearly brought before us; hence St. Paul' in his discourse to the Athenians, loudly proclaimed: “He hath made of one all mankind.”

2.—Again, man loves more ardently a companion formed from his very bones and flesh, than another created independently of him. And this result was the more securely to be obtained, since man and wife must live together all their lives, while the male and female of animals spend only part of their time together.

3.—Them, man and wife do not merely form one principle of generation, but they constitute also a domestic society, of which man is the head. Hence, Eve has not been formed out of the head of Adam, that she might be subject to him; nor out of the feet of Adam, that she might not be despised by him; but out of the side of Adam, that she might be loved and esteemed by him as his equal and his natural companion. 

4.—Finally, woman’s formation out of man must signify the formation of the Church out of the side of Christ. For the conjugal love and union is repeatedly used by St. Paul as the symbol of the union and love which links Christ to His Church. 

Since then the allegorical interpretation of Eve's formation out of the rib of Adam is not in harmony with the view of many Fathers, nor with the supposition on which St. Paul argues, it is incidently certain that the reasons alleged to support it are defective. We recollect that they were taken from two sources, the text containing the report of Eve's formation and its context. But on reading the whole chapter carefully, both text and context seem to require rather a literal interpretation. 

The inference that the account of Eve's formation contained in the second chapter must be allegorical, because the account of the same event contained in the first chapter is literal, logically excludes all mention of the fact, even an allegorical one. For if an allegory may be introduced in order to illustrate thereby Adam's relation to Eve, why may not a more detailed description of the event itself be given for the same purpose? And this the more easily, since the report of the first chapter is extremely scanty, being summed up in the words: “male and female He created them.” 

The supposition that the second chapter of Genesis gives a literal, but more minute description of Eve's formation than is given in the opening chapter of the book, gains great probability from the fact that all the other parts of the same second chapter are nothing else than more detailed accounts of events contained in the first chapter. Thus Moses more fully describes the manner in which Adam had been formed out of the slime of the earth and how man was constituted lord of the animal creation. Even the most advanced interpreters who make Adam's formation consist in a mere evolution of the lower organism do not deny the literal meaning of the Mosaic account of the event. For them, Adam is formed out of the slime of the earth not immediately, but mediately and literally. 

But even supposing that the account of Eve's formation can, from the analysis of the chapter, be proved to be an exception to the literal meaning of the preceding and the succeeding parts of the same chapter—which is an entirely false supposition—we know that we may admit the theory of Moses having used pre-existing documents in the composition of Genesis. What can prevent us, then, from regarding the source of Moses' second account of Eve's formation as entirely different from the source of his first account of the event? The common manner of Oriental historians, who merely string their sources together without fusing them into one organic whole, justifies us in adopting this mode of interpretation. Moses had an additional reason why he should not mix his sources, since the first narrates merely the natural relation of creature to Creator, while the second indicates the supernatural relations of the human race to God. Consequently, the second act of Eve's formation must be taken in its literal meaning if the first account is so explained. As the theory involved in this answer was unknown to Philo, Origen, Cajetan and the ancient writers in general, the recent allegorists ought to be careful not to base their theory on those foundations of their predecessors which have lost their scientific solidity in our days. 

We agree with Cajetan as to the principle on which he bases his second argument for the allegorical interpretation of Eve's formation. God did not bring the beasts of the earth before Adam in order to seek among them a help like to Adam. Much less did God institute such an investigation among the birds of the air. If this were the only possible meaning of the context, we, too, would willingly agree with the interpretation of the allegorists. But now the phrase “God . . . brought them to Adam to see what he would call them,” is at best ambiguous. It is not clear from the words whether Adam was to see what he would call them, or whether God wished to make that experiment. The view that Adam himself was to investigate the nature of the beasts, and thus find their names, fits better into the context and fully undermines the argument which the allegorists base on the passage. 

Another way of solving the difficulty of the allegorists may be drawn from the series of divine actions performed on the sixth creation-day, according to the Mosaic record. The following may be regarded as the most probable order: (1) God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds, and cattle and everything that creepeth on the earth after its kind. (2) God created man to His own image, to the image of God He created him. (3) The Lord God planted a paradise of pleasure, wherein He placed man whom He had formed. (4) God commanded man, saying: Of every tree of Paradise thou shalt eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat. (5) The Lord God said: It is not good for man to be alone. (6) God brought all the beasts of the earth and all the fowls before Adam. Adam called the beasts by their names, but did not find a help like unto himself. (7) Then the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon Adam, and took one of his ribs, and formed Eve, and brought her to Adam. (8) God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply . . . and rule over the fishes of the sea; I have given you every herb . . . (9) And God saw all the things that He had made, and they were very good. 

For our purpose, the question why the sixth event separates the fifth from the seventh, i. e., why God brought the beasts before Adam after announcing his decree to create Eve, but before putting it into execution, is of supreme importance. Perhaps the recent criticism, with its innumerable documents and “redactors.” may explain the passage of God's bringing the animals before Adam, as the fragment of a source different from the sources of what precedes and follows. For such a commentator, the connection would be: “God said: It is not good for man to be alone. . . . Then the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon Adam.” Thus the episode of the naming of the animals is omitted, as interrupting the narrative. This manner of exegesis may be easy and convenient; but it reminds us of the school-girl’s account of man's creation: “God formed Adam out of the slime of the earth; but looking at him, He said: ‘I guess I can do better than that.' Forthwith He formed Eve, and He saw all the things He had made, and they were very good.” 

The true connection, then, between the above three sections, seems to be the following: God’s prohibition contained in the fourth section, is not to concern Adam alone, but his posterity too. Hence, it is not good for man to be alone. But in the economy of sanctification God usually employs willing and freely consenting instruments. Thus Christ dies willingly as the Redeemer of the human race; the Virgin Mary freely consents to become Mother of God; Isaiah offers himself for his supernatural mission; Moses and Jonas, and Jeremias too, must consent, however reluctantly, before they are charged with their special mission. It is therefore but fitting that the first Adam and the first prophet too should consent before being constituted the moral head of the human race. 

But to effect this, Adam must first learn how he may become the father of the race he is to represent in his trial. Consequently, the beasts of the earth are brought before him, that by seeing them he may learn his own incompleteness, and thus conceive the desire of a help like unto himself. Does not St. Thomas allude to this explanation, when he maintains that men in their innocency did not need the animal creation for their bodily necessities, but required it as a source of experimental knowledge? 

After gaining a full knowledge of the animal nature, and thus becoming desirous of a help like unto himself, Adam is merged into a deep sleep from which he wakes only to see his wish realized. But why this deep sleep? The pain resulting from the removal of one of Adam's ribs God might have otherwise prevented, especially since the whole action is of a miraculous character. Nor can it be said that thus God wished to indicate the blindness and partial unreasonableness of those who enter the state of matrimony. If this were true, what would be the meaning of the express words: It is not good for man to be alone; and of the blessing which God gave to the first parents at their first meeting? Nor again, can God have cast the deep sleep upon Adam merely to typify the deep sleep of the second Adam, at the time of the Church’s coming forth from His pierced side. For had the sleep of the first Adam not had its own proper end and purpose, it could be hardly called a type of the second Adam's sleep. 

Many theologians are of opinion that Adam in his mysterious sleep received special divine revelations, some speak even of his seeing the Divine Essence. Be this as it may, we have a right to suppose that in his ecstasy Adam saw, at least, his own supernatural end and the supernatural destiny of the human race. He must have learned also the particular conditions on which alone man can attain his supernatural end, and the way in which he may lose the gifts and graces of his supernatural state. With this clear insight into all the mysteries of the supernatural economy, he must have consented to represent in his trial all those whose father, according to the flesh, he had desired to become." 

Thus far it has been shown that Cajetan's argument for the allegorical interpretation of Eve's formation out of Adam's rib, based upon the context of the Mosaic record, does not bear a critical examination. The same may be shown in regard to the argument based upon the words of the Mosaic text. A number of suggestions have been made by interpreters, every one of which sufficiently destroys Cajetan’s argument. Catharini and others after him have pointed out that God took from the side of the sleeping Adam not a bare rib, but also a certain quantity of flesh. How else could Adam have said: “This is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh?” Notwithstanding this fact, the inspired writer only tells us that God took one of Adam’s ribs, omitting the mention of the flesh. Therefore, when the same inspired writer says that God filled up flesh for it, we reasonably suppose that he omits the mention of the bone which too was restored. Hence Adam was not a cripple after Eve's formation, though one of his ordinary ribs had been used in the process. 

Some commentators prefer the version of the Hebrew text: “He took some [flesh] of his side,” thus leaving Cajetan's objection without any foundation. Grotius suggests the translation: “He took a part of Adam's body,” as avoiding all exegetical difficulties. Others again are of the opinion that God took a rib from both sides of Adam, while some think that he took a rib from one side, and a quantity of flesh from the other. But both these views rather augment than explain the difficulty. 

St. Thomas suggests the solution that Adam had before Eve's formation a supernumerary rib, without being on that account a monster. For as it is not a monstrosity in the male to have his proper organs, though they are different from those of the female, so it was not unnatural in Adam to have a thirteenth rib, destined, as Adam was, to become by its means the origin of Eve. For Adam was as much and as really destined to become the head of the whole human race, Eve included, as the male and the female are destined to become respectively the parents of their offspring. 

The divine formation of Eve out of a single rib of Adam seems at times objectionable by reason of the small amount of matter. But could not God add other material to the bone and the flesh obtained from Adam as the first man had been formed out of the slime of the earth, so might the first woman be formed out of the rib of Adam and the dust of Paradise. Or again, could not God increase the material taken from Adam, even as our Lord and Saviour multiplied the loaves and fishes? Surely even the phenomena of condensation and rarefaction, if they are admitted to affect the substance itself, and not merely its constituent parts, imply the mysterious principle that the same matter may receive a greater and a less quantity. The Arabic version beautifully expresses the divine action as far as it regards the bulk of the matter: “And the Lord God caused the rib which He took from Adam to grow into a woman.” 

Thus far we have seen that the allegorical interpretation of the Mosaic account concerning Eve's formation does not harmonize with the mind of the Apostle, nor with the teaching of the Fathers and the great theologians, and that the text and the context upon which the allegory theory is based, require rather the literal than the allegorical meaning. For the whole context is a literal amplification of the preceding chapter, so that the passage referring to Eve's production cannot be explained allegorically unless weighty reasons necessitate such an explanation. Again, the context shows that Adam was constituted moral head of the human race, and analogy requires that his consent should be obtained before the burden be imposed; the allegorical sense does not sufficiently represent this. Had the text itself been a mere allegory, why should the inspired writer have been so careful to note that God filled up flesh for the rib This detail has in the theory of the allegorists no further end than to complete the deception of the reader. 

What is thus evident from the text and the context preceding our passage, is still more confirmed by the context following the same. There are first of all Adam's clear words: “This is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” We know that the Rabbinic writers have assigned a special meaning to these words. The Talmudists, and Abulensis too, fable that before Eve Adam had another wife, Lilith, formed out of the slime of the earth, with whom he had lived a hundred and thirty years. During this whole period he remained in the state of excommunication incurred by eating the forbidden fruit. Accordingly, the offspring of Adam and Lilith during the whole time consisted of demons. After Eve's formation out of his rib, Adam had therefore sufficient reason to exclaim with joy: This, at last, is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. 

The allegorists, always afraid of fable, would be the first to discard the Rabbinic fiction of Eve's predecessor. But even if they should be inconsistent enough not to do so, the whole setting of the story necessitates the literal meaning of Adam’s exclamation. For else Adam would have no sufficient reason to oppose Eve, as formed out of his own bones, to Lilith, as formed out of the slime of the earth. 

But making abstraction from Rabbinic exegesis, the words of Sacred Scripture themselves require a literal acceptation. The beasts of the earth and the birds of the air have been brought before Adam; but he has not found a helper like unto himself among their number. Then the Lord God brings Eve before him, whereupon he exclaims: “This is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” Adam opposes, therefore, Eve to all the beasts that had been brought before him in order to be named. Nor can it be maintained that Adam intended to express merely an opposition of kind, but not of origin. For, naming Eve as he had named the animals, Adam adds: “She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.” Had Adam intended to express opposition of species between Eve and the beasts of the earth, he ought to have said: “She shall be called woman, because she is like man in kind.” 

It is not the purpose of the present paper to show how the Mosaic account of woman's formation agrees with the most recent theories of woman's formation in the process of generation or in the course of sexual evolution. But as science has nothing but theories to offer us in this regard, at least in its present condition, the inspired truth of the Mosaic record has nothing to fear from its attacks. And besides all this, the words of Eccles. will always remain true: “He hath made all things good in their time, and hath delivered the world to their consideration, so that man cannot find out the work, which God hath made from the beginning to the end.”

Friday, September 22, 2017

Origin of the Bluebeard Legend By John Timbs & Hugh Chisholm 1869

Origin of the Bluebeard Legend By John Timbs 1869

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It is (says Dr. Cooke Taylor) a very common but a very erroneous opinion, that the legend of Bluebeard was devised by the Roman Catholics as a satire on Henry VIII., and that its object was to strengthen the indignation with which his cruelty to his wives was viewed throughout Europe. There is nothing in the legend which can afford the slightest support to such a theory; neither is there any authority for making Bluebeard a Turk. The manners which the story portrays describe a state of society long anterior to the age of the Tudors; they belong to a time when the murder of wives needed not to shelter itself under the form of law: the hero is not a king feeling something of the control which nascent public opinion imposes upon despotism; he is the castellan of the darkest period of the middle ages, when the only check on the tyranny of the lords of the castles was the chance of their being called to account by some adventurous knight-errant, who undertook to redress grievances by the point of his lance and the edge of his sword. The most telling incident in the story—the lookout of sister Anne from the tower of the castle—evidently fixes the date in the age of knight-errantry; Bluebeard is clearly one of those terrible burgraves whom Victor Hugo has so vividly delineated, or, as seems to be probable, he is

"Knight of the shire, and represents them all."

In fact, there are few countries in western Europe which do not claim the equivocal honour of having produced a Bluebeard; and we may regard the tale as a kind of concentrated essence of several legends and traditions relating to outrages perpetrated by feudal lords during the feeble stage of monarchy, when, to use the expressive language of the sacred historian, it might be said of almost every country in western Europe, "At this time there was no king in Israel; every man did that which seemed right in his own eyes." Several strange local legends have been brought to light, which throw some gleams of explanation on the tales that have become current in European tradition. Several of these relate to a supposed prototype of Bluebeard; and it will not be uninteresting to glance at the real history of some of these personages, as illustrative of the state of society in that age of chivalry, the disappearance of which is so deeply lamented by certain writers of sentimental romance. After giving an outline of three of the legends alluded to, Dr. Taylor observes: "We think that traces of these three legends may be found in Perrault's story of Bluebeard; and that instead of having based his fiction on a single tradition, he endeavoured to make it a kind of resume of the many legends of tyrannical husbands with which the popular literature of France abounds."

One of the versions relates that Bluebeard was no other than Gillea Marquis de Laval, a brave marshal of France in the reigns of Charles VI. and VII. His revenues wore princely: wherever he went, he had in his suite a seraglio, a company of actors, a band of musicians, a society of sorcerers, a great number of cooks, packs of dogs, and above two hundred led horses. Mezeray states that he maintained sorcerers to discover hidden treasures, and corrupted young persons of both sexes that he might attach them to him, and afterwards killed them for the sake of their blood, which was necessary for his charms and incantations. He was at length, for a state-crime against the Duke of Brittany, strangled and burnt in a field at Nantes, in 1440.

Bluebeard by Hugh Chisholm 1910

BLUEBEARD, the monster of Charles Perrault's tale of Barbe Bleue, who murdered his wives and hid their bodies in a locked room. Perrault's tale was first primed in his Histoires ou contes du temps passé  (1697). The essentials of the story—Bluebeard's prohibition to his wife to open a certain door during his absence, her disobedience, her discovery of a gruesome secret, and her timely rescue from death—are to be found in other folklore stories, none of which, however, has attained the fame of Bluebeard. A close parallel exists in an Esthonian legend of a husband who had already killed eleven wives, and was prevented from killing the twelfth, who had opened a secret room, by a gooseherd, the friend of her childhood. In "The Feather Bird" of Grimm's Hausmarchen, three sisters are the victims, the third being rescued by her brothers. Bluebeard, though Perrault does not state the number of his crimes, is generally credited with the murder of seven wives. His history belongs lo the common stock of folklore, and has even been ingeniously fitted with a mythical interpretation. In France the Bluebeard legend has its local habitation in Brittany, but whether the existing traditions connecting him with Gilles de Rais (q.v.) or Comorre the Cursed, a Breton chief of the 6th century, were anterior to Perrault's time, we have no means of determining. The identification of Bluebeard with Gilles de Rais, the bête d'extermination of Michelet's forcible language, persists locally in the neighbourhood of the various castles of the baron, especially at Machecoul and Tiffauges, the chief scenes of his infamous crimes. Gilles de Rais, however, had only one wife, who survived him, and his victims were in the majority of cases young boys. The traditional connexion may arise simply from the not improbable association of two monstrous tales. The less widespread identification of Bluebeard with Comorre is supported by a series of frescoes dating only a few years later than the publication of Perrault's story, in a chapel at St Nicolas de Bieuzy dedicated to St Tryphine, in which the tale of Bluebeard is depicted as the story of the saint, who in history was the wife of Comorre. Comorre or Conomor had his original headquarters at Carhaix. in Finistère. He extended his authority by marriage with the widow of lona, chief of Domnonia, and attempted the life of his stepson Judwal, who fled to the Frankish court. About 547 or 548 he obtained in marriage, through the intercession of St Gildas, Tryphine, daughter of Weroc, count of Vannes. The pair lived in peace at Castel Finans for some time, but Comorre disappointed in his ambitions in the Vannetais, presently threatened Tryphinc. She look flight, but her husband found her hiding in a wood, when he gave her a wound on the skull and left her for dead. She was tended and restored to health by St Gildas, and after the birth of her son retired to a convent of her own foundation. Eventually Comorre was defeated and slain by Judwal. In legend St Tryphine was decapitated and miraculously restored to life by Gildas. Alain Bouchard (Grand's troniques, Nantes, 1531) asserts that Comorre had already put several wives to death before he married Tryphine. In the Légendes bretonnes of the count d'Amezeuil the church legend becomes a charming fairy tale.

For a list of all of my disks, downloads and ebooks (PDF and Amazon) click here

The Gay Bible & Other Books in the News (Sept 22 2017)

What Should Have Happened In Hillary Clinton’s Useless Book
An artless and inauthentic memoir, written by the absence of Clinton.

LDS Church buys printer's manuscript of Book of Mormon for record $35 million
"Early Mormon books have appreciated at a far more rapid pace than comparable 19th Century literature. I think it's because Mormons really appreciate their own history and want to own a piece of it."

Amazon Faces Backlash After Banning Gay Bible

Elijah Daniel Just Wrote A Gay Version Of The Bible And It Got Banned By Amazon

The Holy Bible, but gayer: Rihanna as God and Donald Trump as Satan
You have, of course, read about Adam and Eve but have you been acquainted with Adam and Steve?

Amazon pulls 'Gayer' Bible with Rihanna as God and Trump as Satan, only to reinstate it later

How 'American Assassin' took a long, twisting path to film
'American Assassin' brings thriller hero Mitch Rapp to film after years of efforts to develop a film about author Vince Flynn's character

Rolling Stone, Once a Counterculture Bible, Will Be Put Up for Sale
From a loft in San Francisco in 1967, a 21-year-old named Jann S. Wenner started a magazine that would become the counterculture bible for baby boomers. Rolling Stone defined cool, cultivated literary icons and produced star-making covers that were such coveted real estate they inspired a song.

Will Bill O’Reilly’s Latest ‘Killing’ Book Climb the Charts?
Every fall for the last six years, Bill O’Reilly, the former Fox News host, published a new book in his blockbuster “Killing” series. And every year without fail, the books shot to the top of the nonfiction best-seller list.
This year could prove the exception.....

Hillary Clinton's 'What Happened' says something revealing about America
I had intended to keep relatively quiet. ... But these weren’t ordinary times, and Trump wasn’t an ordinary president.— Hillary Clinton

Hillary's consolation prize: a No. 1 bestselling book
Washington Post
Hillary Clinton wanted more than anything to be the leader of the free
world. Now all she's got is a crummy consolation prize: a No. 1 best-selling

Amazon deletes one-star reviews of Hillary Clinton's new book
Amazon has been monitoring and deleting reviews after Hillary Clinton's new book was greeted with a torrent of criticism on the day it was released.

Hillary Clinton’s book of devotionals pulled from shelves: ‘riddled with plagiarism’

Greenwich billionaire tops business bestsellers with ‘Principles’

Bush family, best-selling authors celebrate literacy

The 100 best nonfiction books: No 85 – Common Sense by Tom Paine (1776)
Paine’s influential writings became a textbook for English radicalism, and widely admired on the left. His connections with both the French and the American revolutions gave him a unique position as a champion of Enlightenment politics, and his prose – more demotic and colloquial than Burke, whose “high-toned exclamation” he despised – survives as a bracing and exemplary blast of libertarian polemic.

The Anti-Science Left Keeps On Keeping On
The left often calls conservatives “anti-science.” This is simply an demonstration of the psychological phenomenon of transference when a person attributes their own feelings to another.

3 self-made billionaires share the books that helped get them there
If you're looking for something to read this weekend, consider recommendations from some of the world's wealthiest, most successful individuals.

Books: New and noteworthy: Nelson DeMille, 'The Cuban Affair'

Popular priest disinvited from Catholic University’s seminary after protests over his LGBT book
The Rev. James Martin, a popular priest who published a book earlier this year encouraging a bridge between the LGBT community and the Catholic Church, has been disinvited from giving an address at Catholic University’s seminary.

Best Horror Short Stories 1850-1899: A 6a66le Horror Anthology Edited by Andrew Barger is Published
This new annotated horror anthology by award-winning editor Andrew Barger contains the horror stories from the last half of the 19th century. It includes nightmare tales by Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle, Joseph Le Fanu, W. C. Morrow, H. G. Wells, Arthur Machen, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and other early founders of the horror tale.

Oklahoma and Publishers Weekly best-sellers
1. “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” by David Grann (Doubleday Books)
2. “Hail to the Chin” by Bruce Campbell (Thomas Dunn Books)
3. “The Glass Castle: A Memoir” by Jeannette Walls (Scribner)
4. “Redeeming Conflict: 12 Habits for Christian Leaders” by Ann M. Garrido (Ave Maria Press)
5. “From the Warmth of My Kitchen” by James Milligan (Barringer)
6. “Oklahoma's Most Notorious Cases” by Kent Frates (Roadrunner Press)
7. “The Whole 30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom” by Melissa Hartwig (Houghton Mifflin)
8. “Stories of Old-Time Oklahoma” by David Dary (University of Oklahoma Press)
9. “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero (Perseus)
10. “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life” by Mark Manson (HarperOne)

Pamela Geller: Too Much Power over Free Speech in the Hands of a Small Number of Big Tech Companies

Which came first: the science or the sci-fi?
In the world of science, fiction often lends a hand to fact

'The Holy Bible' Makes Library Association's List Of Most 'Challenged' Books

Barnes & Noble Gets Political, Won’t Stock Milo’s ‘Dangerous’ Book
“I do hold out some hope that common sense will prevail.”
[But you can literally buy MEIN KAMPF on Barnes and Nobles]

At Pune lit fest, publishers say Amazon, ebooks wiping out bookstore chains
Publishers also stressed on the fact that debut authors need to read more before writing.

Why Do Ohio Prisons Ban Books About Learning To Code?
Banned in Ohio prisons:
* Mein Kampf
* Pornography
* Books on Linux programming

Texas prisons ban books by Langston Hughes and Bob Dole - but 'Mein Kampf' is OK
If you're one of the more than 140,000 people doing time in a Texas state prison, you're not allowed to read books by Bob Dole, Harriet Beecher Stowe or Sojourner Truth. But you're more than welcome to dig into Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" or David Duke's "My Awakening."

Banned Books Week 2017: Remember the Bible
o during Banned Books Week next week, as you support the right to read previously challenged books ranging from The Old Man and the Sea to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, take a moment to remember and speak out for those here at home and around the world who have been denied access to the Bible as well.

Conservative Publisher Abandons New York Times Best-Sellers List
Was the best-sellers list ever an accurate accounting of book sales?

Conservative book publisher eschews New York Times Best Seller rankings

Was JFK a meth addict? Outlandish claims that doctor's secret 'vitamin formula' given to President was in fact methamphetamine
Authors Richard Lertzman and William Birnes, in their book 'Dr. Feelgood,' allege that John F. Kennedy became addicted to the drug through a German-born doctor who also pedaled his medical formula to Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Mickey Mantle (among others).

Did an Ancient Blueprint Foretell Trump’s Victory and Clinton’s Defeat 3,000 Years Before the Election?
That revelation might have come as a shock to many, but the soon-to-be-released book from New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Cahn, “The Paradigm: The Ancient Blueprint That Holds the Mystery of Our Times”, will not only shake Washington and change the way millions view current events and how they shape our lives, but also shed light on the biggest issues of our day.

Jack The Ripper’s Grave Found, New Book Claims
The Mirror reports that author David Bullock, who has been researching the murders for over 20 years, says he has discovered the final resting place of who he believes is Jack The Ripper.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Defense of the Detective Story By Arthur B. Reeve 1913

In Defense of the Detective Story By Arthur B. Reeve 1913

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[In spite of all criticism from the standpoint of literary art and all attacks on the ground of morality the detective story remains perenially popular. The "dime novel" of our boyhood has risen to the dignity of a dollar and a half, bound in cloth, and the most exclusive fiction magazines have opened their pages to the unraveling of mysteries and the pursuit of criminals. Still the question of artistic and ethical propriety remained unsettled and it is interesting to see what one of the most successful of modern writers of detective tales has to say in defense of his craft. Mr. Reeve is the author of The Silent Bullet, The Poisoned Pen and Adventures of Craig Kennedy, Scientific Detective.—Editor.]

What is the psychology of the hosts of readers of detective stories? Is it that, as Paul Armstrong says, "we are all as full of crime as Sing Sing and we long to see those who have dared to do the things we all have had glimpses of, even a smothered impulses to do them ourselves—but we're 'too well civilized,' let us say?"

Now and then the newspapers report cases, or alleged cases, in which crooks "confess" to deriving inspiration from this or that literary source. Such was an example not long ago when the driver of a delivery wagon in Brooklyn was arrested as the culprit in a series of house robberies. What differentiated his from other arrests on similar charges was the reported fact that this young man had evidently studied for his criminal profession, as one newspaper put it, "in the most approved modern text-books," or perhaps what might be called the up-to-date correspondence school of crime.

The fact of the matter is that there are two kinds of fiction which every generation reads with avidity—the love story and the mystery story. If all the world loves a lover, so does all the world look with interest and curiosity on the criminal and the detective who traps him. To the normal mind the crook and his captor are always alluring.

I recall once asking Mr. Edison whether he ever read detective stories. With that magic smile that flits over his face when a question interests him, the great inventor replied, "That is about all the fiction I do read." Then he went on, a moment later, glancing about at the appalling mass of scientific books and periodicals in his library, "I don't think I ever felt so badly over the death of anyone not connected with me as I did when Gaboriau died."

Perhaps a little excursion into the history or rather the evolution of the detective story might clear the air a bit. An odd point, as someone once remarked in the New York Times, about the entrance of the detective into American literature is the fact that an American took him to France and the French writers sent him back to the land of his birth.

Poe's immortal mystery tales made but slight impression at first on his own countrymen, but they were received with applause in France and under the influence of the Purloined Letter Gaboriau wrote his Le 13me Hussards. This first of the French detective stories did not reach America, but it was the book of Gaboriau's follower, Du Boisgobey, which was the literary parent of the Old Sleuth tales. This was The Crime of the Opera House, which set all Paris agog, even after the Gaboriau thrillers, and started the cheap detective story in America.

Before leaving Poe, one cannot resist paying tribute to the real founder of the modern mystery story. Change the setting of the Purloined Letter and we have Gaboriau's inspiration. Change the setting of The Murders in the Rue Morgue and we have the inspiration for Conan Doyle's The Sign of the Four. Poe's Dupin is the father of Sherlock Holmes; his "analytical reasoning" is the forerunner of "deduction." If we reimported Poe in the vastly inferior form of the dime novel from France, we reimported him in a vastly better form as Sherlock Holmes from England.

"Old Sleuth" was the nom de plume of Harlan P. Halsey, who was the first to introduce the detective story as the main element of the dime novel, and kept at it himself for twenty years, until a younger generation of writers of these penny dreadfuls took up the work. It is said that some of this new generation have composed sixty thousand words a week, providing a new plot every seven days.

The dime novel began about 1860 under the guidance of H. H. Beadle, a story of lurid western adventure, on the covers of which appeared a woodcut of a dime, hence the name. Halsey, who helped to throw discredit on the detective story by injecting it into this class of literature, is said to have received his literary training as a butcher in Washington Market. He overcame his fundamental failings in the matter of grammar and spelling after he "broke into" literature by dictating his stories. His first genuine hit was The Fastest Boy in New York, which caused him to branch out into more ambitious detective stories as a result of reading the book of Du Boisgobey, the literary parent of "Old Sleuth."

Halsey's success was instantaneous. Immediately another publisher copyrighted the signature "Nick Carter" and that was soon followed by "Old Cap Collier" and "King Brady." Under these names some hundred writers have at various times contributed to the world's supply of blood and thunder.

It did not take long for this "literary" output to slop over into Europe. In England, France, and Germany, translations and elaborations of dime novels have had a wide vogue. Indeed, a society was recently organized in Germany to discourage the publication and sale of the "Nick Carter" and other stories for the express reason that they were said to increase crime by suggestion if not by direct incitement. A large number of publishers have agreed not to have anything to do with such literature and booksellers have combined to discourage its sale.

In Russia nearly nine million copies of such books are sold annually, and are known as "Pinkerton stories." They are flimsy affairs, sold at about three cents a copy, with paper covers embellished with cheap colored pictures of crimes. The titles themselves are hair-raising: A Nest of Criminals, The Bloody Altar, Kidnappers of Girls, A Sect of Murderers, The Revenge of the Escaped Convict.

One may agree heartily with the unsparing critics of the dime novels and still disagree even more heartily with those who would condemn also the modern detective story as it appears from the presses of the hosts of reputable publishers. It is said that Nick Carter inspired one of the brightest and wittiest women who write detective stories. She saw the need and desire of readers for literature of that class and determined that it might be wholesomely supplied—and with marked success.

It is often the other elements (besides the high literary quality) that various writers add to detective stories which should be the saving grace even in the eyes of the sharpest critics. Law, justice, and the right triumph in ninety-nine stories out of a hundred of this class, which is a higher average than can be set by any detective bureau in actual life. Whatever the psychology of the reader of crime stories, it is the crime plus other elements that fascinate him. Mr. Arthur Train in a recent interview put it:

No story of crime or of criminal procedure is interesting because of this fact, but in spite of it. Crime and everything connected with it are at their best sordid and repellent. What makes a story based on them at all interesting is that which makes stories of any and all types interesting— interesting personality or conditions.

The criminal is interesting, despite the fact that he is a criminal, because of his personality. Conditions and incidents are interesting despite the fact that they are criminal conditions or incidents, and they must be uncommonly interesting to overcome the barrier.

Few stories of crime would be interesting that were accurate, true to life records. The story writing impulse must go hand in hand with the imagination. The setting, the background, and the foundation of the characters may be drawn from experience, but all that is only a beginning. The story writing impulse has to be there first and imagination always.

An example of the "other elements" which stories of crime and detection must possess may be cited in the scientific detective story which just now seems to be popular. It began when several writers tried to apply psychology, as developed by Prof. Hugo Muensterberg of Harvard and Prof. Walter Dill Scott of Northwestern University, to either actual or hypothetical cases of crime. Cleveland Moffet made an early use of it in a story, and some years ago two writers collaborated in the creation of a psychological detective for a popular magazine. But that was only a beginning. The fact is that the whole field of science lies open to be drawn on by the clever detective—from finger prints, the portrait parle, the dictagraph and detectaphone, to chemistry and physics in general. Not long ago an astronomer freed an innocent man by calculating the exact date on which a photograph was taken, using the shadows to guide him.

This latest development, far from being harmful, is a decided advance for both the detective story and the detective. More and more the discoveries of the scientists, romantic and thrilling in themselves, are being applied by the forces of law and order in the running down of the criminal. Fiction of this sort is a positive source of good. In the end it will make detectives more and more efficient; will tend to discourage criminals by the sheer weight of unescapable fact. In Europe there has actually grown up a class of scientific professors, a dozen of whom could be named, whose exploits read like fiction. The spread of such knowledge cannot do harm—unless indeed the spread of knowledge itself be harmful.

I recall that the very first scientific detective story which I wrote was returned to me by one editor of a popular magazine with what I considered the most complimentary letter he ever wrote me, that he "couldn't publish a story like that—some darn fool would go out and try to do it." Of course, he had put the cart before the horse. It was not the criminal who might profit.

In one case which "Kennedy" unravelled, he found that the criminal had broken into a safe by using thermite to burn thru the steel. Immediately several people wrote for the formula for thermite. It may be found in several scientific journals. There is not and never was anything to prevent a crook from using it, yet it is not regularly found in the cracksman's kit as a result of a story about it and the detection of the user.

In another story the method of preparation of "soup" or the nitroglycerine used by yeggmen, was mentioned. From the president of a large powder company came this letter:

I wonder if you have ever considered the possible effect of your stories upon the coming generation of up-to-date yeggs [burglars]. No doubt some of them combine with an honest desire to get something for nothing, enough intelligence to read high class detective stories. They may pick up a good many valuable little tips from your practical yarns. However, the preparation of "soup" (nitroglycerine) as you give it, while satisfactory, may have a discouraging effect on some inquiring souls. Rubbing dynamite in the bare hands long enough to effect a complete alcoholic solution will surely give the investigator a severe case of "powder headache" or nitroglycerine poisoning. While these attacks, as you know, are seldom fatal, they are always so excruciatingly painful that the chances are that the investigator will thereafter reform, or at least limit his attentions to those safes which may be opened with the teeth of a hairpin.

Every mention of the dictagraph, the detectaphone, and similar scientific eavesdroppers has brought eager inquiries. In one case a letter from a South Carolina man said: "I have a case in which I can use such a device in procuring the real truth. It will be the means of restoring the character of a young man who is now a victim of a foul conspiracy." In another case a man who was under indictment in Iowa wanted the author to come to his rescue with such of the scientific paraphernalia as Kennedy uses. "I think," he appealed, "that if you will bring the instruments named, I can get enough evidence to clear myself."

Whatever may be said of the cheap crime story, whatever may be said of the crime story of the past—and even that must be read with a sack of salt handy—it remains to be shown that the detective story as it ordinarily appears today is a force for evil. Much more often it serves a decided moral purpose.

Mr. William J. Burns is fond of reiterating the statement that every criminal leaves a track. If it has never been found, it is simply because no one has ever looked for it in the right way. He says that it is a good thing to tell people how hard it is nowadays in the face of modern organization and modern science to "get away with the goods." It is at least an even chance that a good detective story will help the detective as much as it will the criminal.

Today the scientist as well as the detective is on the trail of the criminal. If the fiction writer, by telling the facts in the only way that you can reach a large audience, is writing a "text book for crooks," let the crooks make the most of it. The detectives have been doing so for some time. New York City.

For a list of all of my disks and ebooks (PDF and Amazon) click here