Alan Hart: "The Undaunted," 1936

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"He'd always wanted . . . to do something for people of his sort"

by Jonathan Ned Katz

For more about Alan Hart see: Alberta Lucille Hart/Alan L. Hart: October 4, 1890-July 1, 1962


Dr. Alan Hart's second novel, The Undaunted, was published in 1936 by Norton.

Reviewing the book in The New York Times on April 12, Louise Munsell Field declared: "For anyone interested in the development of medical science" Hart's novel "will prove little less than fascinating." It told of the experiences of Dr. Richard Cameron, first at {{#set: GPS Place={{#geocode: Seaforth, New York}}}}{{#set: Place=Seaforth, New York}}{{ #if: Seaforth|Seaforth|Seaforth, New York }} (on the Puget Sound), "in a medical laboratory associated with the Safe Harbor Hospital," and later at the Fifer Research Institute at {{#set: GPS Place={{#geocode: Northdevon, New York}}}}{{#set: Place=Northdevon, New York}}{{ #if: Northdevon|Northdevon|Northdevon, New York }}(described in the book as one of the oldest, largest cities in the United States, on the Atlantic seaboard).[1] Dr. Cameron was portrayed "as capable of enjoying a triumph over his enemies as he is of championing poor Sandy Farquhar, the intelligent, even brilliant little Scotsman who felt himself an outcast, who was tormented, scorned, hounded from place to place." The reviewer did not indicate that Sanderson Farquhar was "hounded from place to place" because of his homosexuality.

Hart presented Farquhar as victim; Hart's intention was clearly to win readers' sympathy. Farquhar, Hart stressed, could not help being what he was (and, in any case, had had only One active homosexual "affair").

Farquhar's history included some elements of Hart's own experience. In his article of 1920, Dr. Gilbert mentioned that "H" had been working in a hospital as a male doctor "until she was recognized by a former associate.... Then the hounding process began." The "diaries and notebooks" which in the- novel Farquhar left to be published-because "He'd always wanted ... to do something for people of his sort"-suggests the speculation that Hart perhaps left similar manuscripts.

In the novel Farquhar was introduced as a man who

had had to develop an inordinate courage in order to live at all. Small and

frail from infancy, fear took possession of him. He worried lest he fall ill and lest he fail his studies.... He was forever haunted by the fear of being

without a job.

He was dogged by other phobias as well. Loud noises had always

terrified him .... But with an obstinacy equal to his fears, he stuffed his ears

with cotton and practiced revolver shooting at a mark....

. . . He was afraid of himself, of certain quirks in his own personality. He dreaded the suggestive hints people dropped about his failure to marry after his mother's death; he fled from women and lived quite without intimates of either sex. There seemed to be a sort of barrier between him and other people: it was as though there were a "No Admittance" sign over his private life. Most of the time he was unapproachable.... If he tried to tell a smutty story, he was so ill at ease himself that he made his listeners

uncomfortable too.

Thus Farquhar's whole existence had been a mosaic of fear and inner conflicts and outer bravado.

The novel's main character, Richard Cameron, did not know all this, "but he had liked Sandy" from the moment he had seen him defying another doctor.[2]

Farquhar told Cameron about his past dismissals from jobs as X-ray technician, even though his work was superior. .. 'If I have nerve enough to ask why, they say something vague about my personality.' " His employers had" 'the whiphand because they control the money while I haven't any.' " Farquhar said:

"People won't leave anybody alone who isn't just like them and just as

stupid. They think-God help them!-that they're normal. They measure everybody else by themselves. If you want to read different books or live differently than they do, then you're dangerous or abnormal. You're a Bolshevik, a degenerate, and you must be suppressed-by all the good 110% Americans! Normal, average, wholesome! I'm sick of the words. Who knows what is normal? You think you're normal, and I think I am, and they

think they are. My God, what a mess! It makes me want to vomit! "[3]

Later, Richard Cameron told Farquhar:

"You're an idealist, a reformer, at heart. You see the world and the people in it-how silly and stupid it all is. And you're outraged....

" ... In spite of your thirty-nine years and all your experience, you still think maybe something might be done about it and you ought to try to do it. In other words, you don't think humanity is hopeless. You still believe people might be bribed or persuaded or bullied into using their brains and living decently. Then, when every attempt to get them to do any of these things fails, you get angry and rail at them, for their stupidity. You're a defeated uplifter, Sandy, berating the heathen because they won't be

uplifted... ."[4]

The friendship between Cameron and Farquhar begins to cause comment. The evil Dr. Ascot mentions "that there 'was something funny' about Cameron's liking for Sandy Farquhar," about whom another doctor is also "busily gossipping."[5]

When Richard Cameron describes a prisoner used as a guinea pig in medical tests, and mentions his own refusal to continue the tests, Farquar comments:

"There's nothing people won't do to other people, Rich-people that they hate. Men are cruel to-other men."[6]

When he starts a new job Farquhar displays a "bare hint of the confidence born of recognized skill." He looks hopeful. He prays: " 'Keep the hounds off me -until I can dig myself in!' " He has "about him not a vestige of insignificance -only the passionate longing for life of a handicapped animal in a world of foes."[7]

But later, Farquhar muses disconsolately on his fate. Even if he gets credit for his work, no one could "make him a different man."

Neither could he. He had tried. Yes, damn it, he had always tried. But the thing had been impossible from the first. Why not admit that, once and for all?

In his pocket Farquhar could feel the little notebook he had carried for years. In it he set down now and then ideas that came to him. He remembered the first entry in the little book, made when he was twenty. "My body is an incubus [burden] and my fears are born of it. But it is possible for the possessor of a defective body to remain unbroken by the disasters that overcome it because he has it always in his power to escape his servitude, his subjection, to his body. And I think it is his right. What a horror

life would be-all life!-if there was no end to it!"

Farquhar analyzes the Damon Fifer Research Institute:

In that institution dedicated to the study of disease and the discovery of

truth, the inevitable had occurred. People-all people-were short-sighted and selfish and greedy; scientists were no exception If men could only learn not to knife each other, not to hate each other! If they could only work together, face things squarely as they were, set reason a guard over

their conduct!

Four of the twenty men who worked at the Institute were different:

They passed their knowledge on to others. They did not work for money.

They were adventurers, crusaders, men nagged by an insatiable desire to know.... They were not intolerant of other men in search of truth. It was possible then for men like that to maintain an existence in the

hostile modern world-precarious and impecunious, but still an existence.

. . . And all the other men who reported at the Institute for work were

sycophants, parasites.[8]

Farquhar finally resigns from the Fifer Institute, as he says, "before I could be fired. Afterward, while attending a symphony concert, he realizes that "appearances were no longer of importance.”[9] At intermission the women at the concert seem to be laughing at him:

Women always alarmed him and tonight they terrified him. He was convinced

that to them he seemed not a small inconspicuous man in a dinner jacket but a clown, an absurd and comical figure forever denied entrance to their world.

He could see himself as he felt he must appear to them - a ridiculous person with the burden of the past upon him ....

His own burden was large and heavy,[10]

A group of young men telling "smutty stories" look at Farquhar "with what he was sure was contempt." He feels hunted. "He had always been hunted, he always would be. There was no escape with the pack of his past on his back."[256]

He felt nothing now but that sense of utter personal defeat. What little faith had survived the years was toppling in ruin tonight. He had been driven from place to place, from job to job, for fifteen years because of something he could not alter any more than he could change the color of his eyes. Gossip, scandal, rumor always drove him on. It did no good to live alone, to make few acquaintances and no intimates; sooner or later someone always turned up to recognize him. And then there was that wretched business of resigning by request to be gone through again, and after that the concoction of a plausible story to account for the resignation and the ordeal of hunting another job without explaining exactly why he had left the old one and ... without lying about it. Each time he underwent these humiliations his

self-respect seemed first to writhe and then to shrink.[11]

Farquhar thinks:

he was shut out forever from the happy normal life for which he had always

longed. He was alone, he would always be alone. He had no friend in all the world but Richard Cameron and he could not bother him asking for help. A stifling sense of isolation shut down over Farquhar.... He was an outcast; the pack, red-tongued and savage, was in pursuit. He had no defense against that mob-neither money nor prestige nor influential friends. He had only himself, his own personality such as it was, his love of beauty, and his passion for justice. But over himself he had a power that could defeat

the world and deliver him... [12]

After Farquhar is found dead Richard Cameron receives a letter and a package which his friend had addressed to him, and pieces together Farquhar's story. Although Farquhar had planned suicide, he had died while saving the life of a drowning boy.[13]

Cameron tells a sympathetic colleague Farquhar's early history:

"He was always a hero, all his life! ... He was a delicate youngster and the bigger boys bullied him at school and tormented him when he couldn't hold his own with them. That started him being afraid of things.... ."He'd been an only child, ... and his poor health kept him out of athletics and prevented him mixing much with other kids of his own age. I suppose there never was a boy who knew less about the workings of the human body than he did when he went away from home to college. And it was just after that he discovered he was a homosexual. ... "Sandy took it hard. He felt that he must always be an outcast, and he never got a chance to change his mind. He stayed away from men and women both; after that one affair he never had another. He lived alone, made books and music ... take the place of people. When he got to medical school he found a fellow there who'd known him in college and [he] spread the word about Sandy.

"Well, he stuck it out and took his degree in spite of everything, but when it came to outrunning gossip he found he couldn't do it. He went into radiology because he thought it wouldn't matter so much in a laboratory what a man's personality was. But wherever he went, scandal followed him

sooner or later."

If Farquhar could have started his own medical practice, Cameron thinks" 'he might have succeeded ... for he was a grand man with sick people. But he had no capital and so he had to work for other doctors or hospitals all his life. That ruined all his chances because eventually his story would get around and then he'd be forced to leave.' "[14]

Cameron concludes: " 'The thing that killed Sandy' " was

"the thought that, no maller how clean and decent he was, he must always

be an outcast. He left some diaries and notebooks and asked me to take what little insurance he had and publish them at my own discretion. He'd always wanted, he said, to do something for people of his sort, something to stop

them being hounded and persecuted for things they can't help."

Cameron is angered that" 'a man like Sandy has to die while all sorts of filthy minded people who weren't fit to tie his shoestrings go around being respectable. He was kind and honest and brave, he was a good doctor, he loved beautiful things, and, in spite of all that happened to him, he loved people.' "[15]

On the second from the last page of the novel Cameron thinks that Farquhar "ran from things it would have been better to face."[16]


  1. Template:Fact
  2. Hart, Undaunted, pp. 75-76
  3. Hart, Undaunted, pp. 81-82
  4. Hart, Undaunted, pp. 84.
  5. Hart, Undaunted, pp. 101.
  6. Hart, Undaunted, p. 145
  7. Hart, Undaunted, p. 183.
  8. Hart, Undaunted, pp. 196-97.
  9. Hart, Undaunted, pp. 245, 253.
  10. Hart, Undaunted, p. 255.
  11. Hart, The Undaunted, p. 257.
  12. Hart, The Undaunted, p. 258
  13. Hart, The Undaunted, pp. 260-61.
  14. Hart, The Undaunted, p. 262.
  15. Hart, The Undaunted, p. 263.
  16. Hart, The Undaunted, p. 309.

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