8 Out of 10 Cats . . .

It’s gratifying to have photographic evidence that cats prefer Cambridge Library Collection reissues to all other brands! This cat of great taste and discernment is Effie, the grey (Ruskin fans smile here!) pet of Professor Francis O’Gorman of Leeds University, the editor of the Cambridge Companion to Victorian Culture. If Effie wants to pursue the train of thought prompted by the Reminiscences of Carlyle (in – dare we suggest – a much less attractive cover than the Ruskin volume . . .) she will be interested to know that on 11 November we will publish the 30 volumes of the Centenary Edition of the Works of Thomas Carlyle (and the CLC version of the Reminiscences, edited by J.A. Floude, will come out next year).

Sadly, the index volume of Ruskin’s Works does not have an entry for ‘cats’ (though there is half a column for ‘dogs’, including of course, Carpaccio‘s). Alarmingly, there is a reference to ‘cat-skin’, which takes us to Fors Clavigera, volume IV, letter 41: ‘. . . the sweet promise of the Anglo-Russian tempter, with his ermine tail, “Ye shall be as Gods, and buy cat-skin cheap”‘. Cook and Wedderburn let us down by not supplying any annotation, and a quick Google has produced no results: can anyone advise?


This entry was posted in Literary Studies, Printing and Publishing History, Slavery and Abolition and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 8 Out of 10 Cats . . .

  1. Francis O'Gorman says:

    I think Ruskin is referring to the Anglo-Russian Fur Company, the spring sale of which he refers to in Letter 41 (Effie is not keen on that letter).

  2. Kate Flint says:

    Yeats, to T. Sturge Moore

    “John Ruskin, while talking with Frank Harris, ran suddenly to the other end of the room, picked up, or seemed to pick up, some object which he threw out of the window. He then explained that it was a tempting demon in the form of a cat. Now if the house cat had come in both cats would have looked alike to Ruskin. (I know this for I once saw a phantom picture and a real picture side by side.) Neither your brother [G.E.Moore, who defended in his Refutation of Idealism the common-sense view that the external world exists independent of our senses] nor [Bertrand] Russell gives any criterion by which Ruskin could have told one cat from the other. No doubt if pressed they would have said that if Ruskin’s cat was real Harris would have seen it. But that argument amounts to nothing. Dr. Smyllie, a well-known Dublin doctor, made his class see the Indian rope trick by hypnotic suggestion a few years ago. All saw it: whether the suggestion was mental or merely visual makes no difference. Perhaps Russell would say ‘a real object’ persists, a phantom does not. Shelley pointed out that the same dream recurs again and again… not only things but ‘dreams themselves are a dream.’”

    Why is it that I don’t think that Ruskin was a cat man? I am alarmed that I once had a beloved ginger cat whom I named Ruskin …

  3. francis o'gorman says:

    Actually, JR _was_ a cat man–in _Praeterita_ he says he has run out of time to dsicuss all his cats, as he has discussed some of his dogs, and the Brantwood Diary records some fond recollections of the Brantwood cats, one of whom (his favourite, whose name I can’t remember) is painted in the Collingwood picture of JR at his desk with the Coniston Old Man through the window (http://www.visitcumbria.com/photos/ruskin.jpg). The cat is happily asleep in JR’s chair. In the Brantwood Diary, he has a charming little note about being licked by the rough tongue of a cat.

  4. Pingback: Another Cat Votes… | Cambridge Library Collection Blog

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