“I like your lunatic”

Speaking of dinner, when the German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt
told a friend, a Parisian doctor, that he wanted to meet a certifiable
lunatic, he was invited to the doctor’s home for supper. A few days
later, Humboldt found himself placed at the dinner table between two
men. One was polite, somewhat reserved, and didn’t go in for small
talk. The other, dressed in ill-matched clothes, chattered away on
every subject under the sun, gesticulating wildly, while making
horrible faces. When the meal was over, Humboldt turned to his host. “I
like your lunatic,” he whispered, indicating the talkative man. The
host frowned. “But it’s the other one who’s the lunatic. The man you’re
pointing to is Monsieur HonorĂ© de Balzac.”

The remainder of the article, which concerns why good writers are not always good speakers, is interesting as well.


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