The prodigy by Wallace Amy

The prodigy by Wallace Amy


Author:Wallace, Amy
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Sidis, William James, 1898-1944, Gifted children, Gifted persons
Publisher: New York : E.P. Dutton
Published: 1986-08-05T16:00:00+00:00

The Prodigy

or asylum, where he can be held incommunicado indefinitely, the danger of railroading of that sort is still very much alive. In any case where the prosecution is able to command the services of two doctors, the victims would then simply disappear without leaving any traces.

This bizarre little document is virtually the only account of this traumatic segment of William's life, and it leads one to ask many questions. Did his parents really dope him? Did they actually threaten to commit him to an insane asylum? How could William truly have been kidnapped and held prisoner? One of William's closest friends throughout his adult life, fellow radical Julius Eichel, addressed the question of the "imprisonment": "His father and mother had some power over him. As far as he knew they could turn him over to the police any time they wished—an old indictment was hanging over him. For many years he dared not go openly to Boston, for he feared arrest for that May Day activity."

In Helena's opinion: "Billy couldn't take any correction. I could; it didn't bother me. Billy said to me, 'You are like a reed, and you bend and then come upright again. I am like an oak tree, and I get uprooted.' And of course, I have learned to be a little diplomatic, tell little white lies. He was straightforward, and utterly frank, and would tell everybody just what he thought of them—and that's not the best way. He always told me I had a New England conscience and it would get me into trouble. But why would he say that, when he was far more conscientious than I was and far more honest? I have learned to lie, I don't think he ever learned to. My mother could lie. I don't think my father could very well."

According to Helena, all the family fighting was over petty issues. Sarah harped and hammered away at her son with a daily refrain of "Do it this way." Recalled Clifton Fadiman, "I think Sarah, like most mothers, wanted him to live like a mensch, you know, put on a tie and eat right—chicken soup and so forth. But he thought of all


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