furnishes more evidence than one would be inclined at first to suspect, in support of the theory set forth in these pages. And were her individual emotional and intellectual life given more sway the evidence would probably be even greater, for, emotionally, she illustrates the theory in its most genial form, and her best-first efforts in many lines of thought and action indicate vast possibilities in the right direction.
The Genius.—Of the activities of men of genius we know altogether too little. But, as Platzhoff has recently observed, the present is an age of personality, and there exists an intense desire to see the individual in the creative process, to catch, if possible, the personality as it metamorphoses itself into, or 'secretes,' the invention, the poem, the novel, the picture, the great thing of whatever sort. It is an epoch of biographies and autobiographies, of interviews, confessions and recollections, of diaries, love-letters, descriptions of private life, etc. At the two extremes we have an eminent littérateur's account of 'How I wrote my greatest novel,' and the Sunday newspaper's illustrated article on 'How Judge X. spends his vacation.' Out of this immense, incongruous mass of facts and fancies, by patient selection, it is possible to obtain some data at least of the highest importance for our view of the activity of genius. Many of the definitions and characterizations of genius have dealt with its relation to work,—'genius is mainly an affair of energy,' 'genius is nothing but labor and diligence,' 'genius is only an infinite capacity for hard work,' etc. But such characterizations of genius are born of the contemplation of the necessity under which, in our present forms of society, men of genius are compelled to work hard in order to live, and to work long in order to achieve fame. The capacity of genius for persistent, intense hard work, if it really exists, is only a temporary necessity, a transient expedient, not a permanent phenomenon of human evolution. True genius seems rather to accomplish its work by brief periods of intense activity than by unceasing labor and untiring diligence, by the raptus, not by the ordo or the ratio. And, apart from the necessities of the ill-regulated social system of to-day, the genius, like the child, is marked by an extreme capacity for almost 'lightning change' from productivity to infertility, from wisdom and wit to ignorance and stupidity, from activity of the intensest sort to equally noteworthy inertness. And therein he really recapitulates the race to which he belongs, for, shorn of certain excrescences acquired in the making, he is the normal man, not the abnormal, as so many critics of genius ancient and modern, will have it. Lombroso has a brief section on the stupidity of men of genius, the noddings of the Homers of all ages, and his school has made much of
- Persönlichkeit und Werk. Zu einer Theorie der Biographie. Arch. f. system. Philos. (Berlin), Vol. VII. (1891), pp. 210-226.
- The Man of Genius (Lond., 1895), pp. 25-26.