Sara Jeannette Duncan/Lily Lewis Archive

Science and Genius (Washington Post, September 6, 1885)

Duncan reflects on the concept of genius. She talks, satirically, about how scientists in the 19th century have posited genius as a “hereditary disease”, complete with side effects, that a lay-person cannot simply reach. She talks about Mr. Sully (likely James Sully, a contemporary scientific writer who addressed the concept of genius), and how he does not really establish the fact of the negative impact of genius. Duncan basically calls him a fraud and states that a “psycho-physiologist” will not reveal the secrets of intelligence or find out why it pains some people. She talks about the “aristocratic” status of self-identified geniuses and satirically talks about how she does not have acquaintance among this “nobility”. She jokingly exaggerates the power of genius, arguing that John Keats will always be remembered for the “undying flame of his genius”


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