Norman Douglas

Norman Douglas

Norman Douglas

Norman Douglas

Excerpt

Norman Douglas was a humanist. He was many other things besides; novelist, travel-writer, essayist, geologist, botanist, biologist. He was animated by an insatiable curiosity, which extended to a great variety of subjects and countries. In a significant passage of Alone, when writing of children, he throws an interesting sidelight on his own point of view: 'A man who has tried to remain a mere citizen of the world and refused to squeeze himself into the narrow methods and aspirations of any epoch or country will discover that children correspond unconsciously to his multifarious interests. They are not standardized. They are more generous in their appreciations, more sensitive to pure ideas, more impersonal. Their curiosity is disinterested. The stock may be rudimentary, but the outlook is spacious; it is the passionless outlook of the sage. A child is ready to embrace the universe. And, unlike adults, he is never afraid to face his own limitations. How refreshing to converse with folks who have no bile to vent, no axe to grind, no preju- dices to air; who are pagans to the core; who, uninitiated into the false value of externals, never fail to size you up from a more spiritual point of view than do their elders; who are not oozing politics and sensuality, nor afflicted with some stupid ailment or other which prevents them doing this and that.' Like the child he adumbrates here, 'he was ready to embrace the universe'.

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