Kaspar Hauser: Europe’s Child by Martin Kitchen (auth.)

By Martin Kitchen (auth.)

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Experiments on the receptivity of her left and right brain suggested an answer. Genie’s brain processed language in the right hemisphere rather than the left. Susan Curtiss suggested that Genie’s left hemisphere had not been stimulated in early childhood so that she perceived language as an environmental sound and thus appropriately processed it across the aisle. 40 Research on deaf children suggests that this is indeed the case. If they are not exposed to sign language at an early age they do not process language in the left hemisphere.

On 15 September 1806 at ten in the morning the French plenipotentiary Friron handed over the imperial city of Nuremberg to the Bavarian commissioner Count Thürnheim in an impressive ceremony. Cannons roared, church bells rang, French soldiers and the Nuremberg militia paraded through the streets as the decision of the Act of Confederation of the Rhine was formally acknowledged. The patricians of the city were appalled. The wife of the prominent businessman Paul Wolfgang Merkel burst into tears and told her bemused children that they were now the slaves of princes.

41 The Kaspar Hauser of these pamphlets was certainly no ‘noble savage’, a child of nature whose innocence illuminated the falsity and depravity of contemporary civilization. By the time he appeared in Nuremberg the romantic cult of the savage, the child and the peasant was no longer fashionable. 42 Yet although actual savages, children and peasants were hardly objects of uncritical wonderment, as abstractions they provided rewarding objects for philosophical and ethnological investigation. This philosophical and ethnological approach was then applied to contemporary society as a critique of existing conditions, particularly of power relationships.

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