Flowers for Algernon
Daniel Keyes

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Flowers for Algernon


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Re-reading this after about two years, I selected a completely different set of quotes, non-overlapping but occasionally adjacent to the first set.

With two sources, I find myself having to choose between readings with minor differences. They don’t even agree on the copyright holder, so both are listed.

Flowers for Algernon

Copyright © 1959 by Mercury Press, Inc.
Copyright © 1959 by Daniel Keyes

Hugo Award-winning novelette, 1960

Apr 16 Today, I lerned, the comma, this is a comma (,) a period, with a tail, Miss Kinnian, says its importent, because, it makes writng, better, she said, somebody, coud lose, a lot of money, if a comma, isnt, in the, right place, I dont have, any money, and I dont see, how a comma, keeps you, from losing it.

But she says, everybody, uses commas, so Ill use, them too,



When I become intelligent like Dr. Strauss says, with three times my I.Q. of 68, then maybe I’ll be like everyone else and people will like me and be friendly.

I’m not sure what an I.Q. is. Dr. Nemur said it was something that measured how intelligent you were—like a scale in the drugstore weighs pounds. But Dr. Strauss had a big argument with him and said an I.Q. didn’t weigh intelligence at all. He said an I.Q. showed how much intelligence you could get, like the numbers on the outside of a measuring cup. You still had to fill the cup up with stuff.

Then when I asked Burt, who gives me my intelligence tests and works with Algernon, he said that both of them were wrong (only I had to promise not to tell them he said so). Burt says that the I.Q. measures a lot of different things including some of the things you learned already, and it really isn’t any good at all.




“What’s wrong with a man becoming intelligent and wanting to acquire knowlege and understanding of the world around him?”

She stared down at her work and I turned to leave. Without looking at me, she said: “It was evil when Eve listened to the snake and ate from the tree of knowledge. It was evil when she saw that she was naked. If not for that none of us would ever have to grow old and sick, and die.”

Once again now I have the feeling of shame burning inside me. This intelligence has driven a wedge between me and all the people I once knew and loved. Before, they laughed at me and despised me for my ignorance and dullness; now, they hate me for my knowledge and understanding.


The Garden of Eden

I tried to avoid all discussions of intellectual concepts and to keep the conversation on a simple, everyday level, but she just stared at me blankly and asked me what I meant about the mathematical variance equivalent in Dorbermann’s Fifth Concerto.

When I tried to explain she stopped me and laughed. I guess I got angry, but I suspect I’m approaching her on the wrong level. No matter what I try to discuss with her, I am unable to communicate. I must review Vrostadt’s equations on Levels of Semantic Progression. I find I don’t communicate with people much any more.

How strange it is that people of honest feelings and sensibility, who would not take advantage of a man born without arms or legs or eyes—how such people think nothing of abusing a man born with low intelligence.

I see that even in my dullness I knew I was inferior, and that other people had something I lacked—something denied me. In my mental blindness, I thought it was somehow connected with the ability to read and write, and I was sure that if I could get those skills I would automatically have intelligence too.

Even a feeble-minded man wants to be like other men.

A child may not know how to feed itself, or what to eat, yet it knows of hunger.

text checked (see note) Mar 2006

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