Wednesday, October 14, 2009

CENTENARIO DE CESARE LOMBROSO 1909-2009 (II)

Derecho y Literatura: Joseph Conrad v. Cesare Lombroso

"That's what he may be called scientifically. Very good type, too, altogether, of that sort of degenerate. It's good enough to glance at the lobes of his ears. If you read Lombroso…"

Mr Verloc, moody and spread largely on the sofa, continued to look down the row of his waistcoat buttons; but his cheeks became tinged by a faint blush. Of late even the merest derivative of the word science (a term in itself inoffensive and of indefinite meaning) had the curious power of evoking a definitely offensive mental vision of Mr Vladimir, in his body as he lived, with an almost supernatural clearness. And this phenomenon deserving justly to be classed amongst the marvels of science, induced in Mr Verloc an emotional state of dread and exasperation tending to express itself in violent swearing. But he said nothing. It was Karl Yundt who was heard, implacable to his last breath.
"Lombroso is an ass."
Comrade Ossipon met the shock of this blasphemy by an awful, vacant stare. And the other, his extinguished eyes without gleams blackening the deep shadows under the great, bony forehead, mumbled, catching the tip of his tongue between his lips at every second word as though he were chewing it angrily:
"Did you ever see such an idiot? For him the criminal is the prisoner. Simple, is it not? What about those who shut him up there--forced him in there? Exactly. Forced him in there. And what is crime? Does he know that, this imbecile who has made his way in this world of gorged fools by looking at the ears and teeth of a lot of poor, luckless devils? Teeth and ears mark the criminal? Do they? And what about the law that marks him still better--the pretty branding instrument invented by the overfed to protect themselves against the hungry? Red-hot applications on their vile skins--hey? Can't you smell and hear from here the thick hide of the people burn and sizzle? That's how criminals are made for your Lombrosos to write their silly stuff about."
Joseph Conrad [1857-1924], The Secret Agent (Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York, 1907), Cap. III.

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