19th century book identification
July 8, 2011 8:48 AM   Subscribe

Book identification: 19th century (?) American (??) novel with a scene that compares telepathy to rape

This book is not contemporary. If I had to guess, I would say it's 19th century, but it could be older, or early 20th. For some reason, I think it's American, but that detail could be wrong.

There's a scene in the book where two upperclass men are sitting and talking. One is the alpha and one is the beta, and their discussion is more formal than familiar, altho they are friends. The conversation doesn't directly relate to the main plot of the book, I don't think. The alpha starts reading the mind of the other guy, or asking him to think of numbers while he guesses them. It's part of some larger point he's trying to make. I'm not sure if it's legit telepathy or if there is some sort of trickery involved, but the man keeps guessing correctly. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize it might have been because the men were such good friends, their emotional connection bordered on telepathy.

Then, either explicitly or more subtly, the fact that this one man is in the head of another man is compared to rape. This comparison might tie into the larger plot.
posted by Ideal Impulse to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Sure it's not Sherlock Holmes?
posted by mattbucher at 9:27 AM on July 8, 2011

Response by poster: That's a really good guess, but I don't think it is. First, I've never actually read any Sherlock Holmes, and secondly, I asked a friend of mine who adores those books, and she says she didn't know what I was talking about.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 9:47 AM on July 8, 2011

It sounds like the scene in "Murders in the Rue Morgue" where Dupin demonstrates how his skill at deduction could be akin to mind reading, as well as the scene in "A Study in Scarlet" where Holmes riffs on that.

If it's legitimate telepathy, maybe look at HG Wells' stories? "The Stolen Body" perhaps?
posted by mumblingmynah at 9:58 AM on July 8, 2011

The Demolished Man came to mind for some reason, but I don't recall that specific scene and it was published outside your timeframe. Mentioning it just-in-case.

Tvtropes has a related entry, but it seems more literal than the scene you're talking about.

I hope someone comes by with the right answer.
posted by jsturgill at 10:11 AM on July 8, 2011

This is an enormously long shot, because it's not a novel, it's not American, and published in 1932, but that bit sounded vaguely familiar and I thought of this. And since you don't seem to have gotten a hit yet, I'll go ahead and toss it out just in case:

Crook Frightfulness

It's a personal account by a schizophrenic describing his delusions, including being pursued by malevolent ventriloquists and others conspiring against him in various ways.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:04 PM on July 8, 2011

George Eliot's The Lifted Veil?
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:05 PM on July 8, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you for all your responses, but none of these are what I am remembering. However, upon talking with a friend, who also vaguely remembered what I was talking about, we concluded that we read this novel in a college class, so I'll be trying to track down some syllabus information. I'll keep you updated if I find it.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 8:42 PM on July 13, 2011

Did you ever find the answer? Please post if so!
posted by taramosalata at 5:03 PM on November 2, 2011

« Older The e-mail came from…inside the house!   |   Better living through plant healing Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.