Phew! This lobster research is pretty hectic, I can tell you. Progress is slow – I still know almost nothing about lobsters – but I have been indefatigable in tracking down promising materials.
To start with, I am awaiting delivery of this book. When postie totters up the path clutching it in its cardboard packaging, I shall tear it out of his hands and read it from cover to cover. Having done so, I hope I shall know a hell of a lot more about lobsters than I do at the moment.
But of course only a weedy milksop type of researcher would rely on a single source. I have also been poring over the online catalogue of the London Library, looking specifically for books with the word “lobster” in the title, and on my next visit, later in the week, I intend to borrow some or all of these works. There is Elisabeth Townsend’s Lobster : A Global History (2011), Consider The Lobster & Other Essays by David Foster Wallace (2007), and Lucullus ; or, Palatable essays : in which are merged “The oyster,” “The lobster,” and “Sport and its pleasures” by the author of “The Queen’s messenger,” “The bric-à-brac hunter,” &c., an 1878 volume by Herbert Byng Hall. Then we have The Cosmographical Lobster : a poetic novel by Henri Chopin (1976) and Phantom Lobster : A True Story by Leo Walmsley (1933). I think I shall also borrow Crab, shrimp, and lobster lore : gathered amongst the rocks at the sea-shore, by the riverside, and in the forest by W.B. Lord (1867). By the time I have read that lot, I think I will have learned quite a bit about lobsters.
More than I learned, in any case, from a website to which I was directed by Miss Dimity Cashew (aka Pansy Cradledew). Miss Cashew is of the opinion that I am wrong, wrong, wrong in my conviction that there might be such a thing as an “intelligent lobster”. Thus she roamed around Het Internet until she found a site which, she thought, would knock some sense into my cranium. Here we read that
a lobster has a brain the size of a grasshopper’s. The lobster brain is primarily just a collection of ganglia, or nerve endings. It’s evident from the lobster brain’s lack of complexity that a lobster does not do much deep thinking.
That is all very well, but I would lay greater trust in half a dozen books from the London Library than in a webpage of “Riddles, Trivia, and More”. We shall return to this subject when I have done some reading.
As Gerard de Nerval supposedly answered when asked why he walked his pet lobster Thibault on a ribbon around the gardens of the Palais Royal in Paris.
‘I have a liking for lobsters. They are peaceful, serious creatures. They know the secrets of the sea.’
I have a fondness for lobsters myself which I indulged mercilessly on my hols this year. Here particularly…if you are ever passing.
Man cannot live by gruel alone.
…in which are merged “The oyster,” “The lobster,” and “Sport and its pleasures”…
This makes me picture a local Acclimatisation Society releasing oyster/lobster hybrids into the wilds as a game species. And worry that it has happened already.