by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Dudley & Gilderoy: A Nonsense, by Algernon Blackwood.
London, Ernest Benn Ltd, December 1929, hardcover 8/6 (281 pages).
Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951) was a prominent British author who wrote many literary fantasies and ghost stories during the early 20th century. His John Silence was one of the most popular psychic detectives during the heyday of that literary genre just before World War I. H. P. Lovecraft named him as a “modern master” of supernatural horror.
Dudley & Gilderoy, published toward the end of his literary career, is an anomaly. Because it features a talking cat and a parrot, and is not a supernatural novel in the horror sense, it has been described as a children’s fantasy although there is no evidence that Blackwood or the book’s British or American publishers ever considered it to be for children. Everett F. Bleiler, in his monumental The Guide to Supernatural Fiction (1983), describes it as “A moving story, although the tragic ending is disconcerting.”
The novel begins with a quotation from the then-recent The Modern Cat: Her Mind and Manners. An Introduction to Comparative Psychology, by G. S. Gates (Macmillan, 1928):
“an attempt to prove that the cat is a more delicate organism and of a higher order of intelligence than any other four-footed beast … also possesses a language much like the Chinese and possibly derived from it. In the word part of the language there are, probably, not more than 600 fundamental words, all others being derivatives.”