Monday, 25 August 2008

Feline friends and foes

The Swedish daily Svenska dagbladet has an article about cats in literature today. A subject many scholars and amateurs have happily embraced, including yours truly. There is nothing radically new in the article, but it was still interesting to read, and the author points out that although many famous writers were cat-lovers there have also been cat-haters. He refers to Roberts Darnton’s seminal essay “The Great Cat Massacre” and goes on to discuss some Swedish writers, notably August Strindberg, who really disliked felines. But then, the article concludes, he was a misanthropist too.

The best book on the cultural history of cats is, however, The Tiger in the House by Carl van Vechten, first published in 1920. He has a whole chapter on ailurophobes – which means, yes, cat-haters.

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