Sherlock Holmes and Pippi Longstocking Autistic?

Polly Morrice in the New York Times:

Pippi_longstocking_3Some time ago, while trolling the Web, I came across a 30-year-old paper by William P. Sullivan, originally published in The Bulletin of the West Virginia Association of College English Teachers, that describes Melville’s Bartleby as ”a high-functioning autistic adult.” The notion struck me as far-fetched, but it certainly has had legs. A recent search using the words ”Bartleby” and ”autism” turned up, among other results, a 2004 Modern Language Association essay on the pale scrivener’s ”autistic presence” and a University of Iowa study guide that asks if Melville might have ”observed some of these attributes in himself.” Bartleby even appears on a site listing literary figures with autistic traits — along with Pippi Longstocking, Sherlock Holmes and several characters from ”Pride and Prejudice.”

What’s behind the impulse to unearth autism in the classics?

More here.

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