Jubal Harshaw


Jubal Harshaw

Jubal Harshaw is a fictional character featured in "Stranger in a Strange Land", a novel by Robert A. Heinlein. He is described as: "Jubal E. Harshaw, LL.B., M.D., Sc.D., bon vivant, gourmet, sybarite, popular author extraordinary, neopessimist philosopher, devout agnostic, professional clown, amateur subversive, and parasite by choice."

Many critics suggest that it is not Valentine Michael Smith who is the true main character of the novel; but rather Harshaw. Harshaw is central to the tale in that he often has "center stage", expounding much of his personal philosophy to Smith as the latter contends with the new society he finds himself in. Smith eventually enshrines him as the patron saint of the church he founds (much to Harshaw's initial chagrin.) Critics have also suggested that Harshaw is actually a stand-in for Robert Heinlein himself, based on similarities in career choice and general disposition.Fact|date=June 2007

SF editor David G. Hartwell has said that Harshaw was inspired by the wealth and luxurious lifestyle of Erle Stanley Gardner, the best-selling author and creator of Perry Mason; Gardner was also a lawyer.

Harshaw also resembles Isaac Asimov, a scientist who published professional papers as well as the author of numerous science fiction novels and stories and popular books on science, history, Shakespeare and the Bible.

Quotations

In Harshaw's appearances, he touches on many concepts, including love, morality, pantheistic solipsism, creationism, proper behavior, religion, art, alcohol, disputing the concept of altruism, and women. The following Heinlein/Harshaw quotations illustrate the character's style and perspective:

* "A desire not to butt into other people's business is at least eighty percent of all human 'wisdom' . . . and the other twenty percent isn't very important."
* "Who said I was wise? I'm a professional bad example. You can learn a lot by watching me. Or listening to me. Either one."
* "Kiss girls all you want to - it beats the hell out of card games."
* "Never trust a technology more sophisticated than a knife and a fork."
* "'Audacity, always audacity'-soundest principle of strategy. In practicing medicine I learned that when you are most at loss is the time when you must appear confident. In law I had learned that, when your case seems hopeless, you must impress the jury with your relaxed certainty." (Stolen from Napoleon: "L'audace, toujours l'audace.")
* "Customs, morals - is there a difference? Woman, do you realize what you are doing? Here, by the grace of God and an inside straight, we have a personality untouched by the psychotic taboos of our tribe - and you want to turn him into a carbon copy of every fourth-rate conformist in this frightened land! Why don't you go whole hog? Get him a brief case and make him carry it wherever he goes - make him feel shame if he doesn't have it."
* (answering a Special Service officer who attempts to read him his Miranda rights) "I have the right to part your hair with a shotgun unless you do things properly and in order! Get that helicopter off my begonias!"
* (Upon returning from a dunking in his pool at the hands of his secretaries) "As I was saying, a woman who can't cook is a waste of skin. If I don't start having some service around here I'm going to swap all of you for a dog and shoot the dog. What's the dessert, Miriam?"
* "I don't like to be called 'Doctor.'. . . Oh, I'm not offended. But when they began handing out doctorates for comparative folk dancing and advanced fly-fishing, I became too stinkin' proud to use the title. I won't touch watered down whiskey and I take no pride in watered-down degrees . . . it is time they called it something else, so as not to have it mixed up with playground supervisors."
* "Sit back down--and for God's sake quit trying to be as nasty as I am; you don't have my years of practice. Now let me get something straight: you are "not" in my debt. You can't be. Impossible--because I "never" do anything I don't want to do. Nor does anyone, but in my case I am always aware of it. So please don't invent a debt that does not exist, or before you know it you will be trying to feel gratitude--and that is the treacherous first step downward to complete moral degradation."
* (the character with whom he is conversing has commented that another spoke as though she held a certain illogical belief). "At all other times you will hear me talk as if I believed it, too. Ordinary politeness. One of my most valued friends believes in astrology; I would never offend her by telling her what "I" think of it. The capacity of a human mind to believe devoutly in what seems to me to be the highly improbable--from table tapping to the superiority of their own children--has never been plumbed."
* "There is no safety this side of the grave."
* "Of all the nonsense that twists the world, the concept of 'altruism' is the worst. People do what they want to do, every time."
* "I hope he's just a scoundrel . . . because a saint can stir up ten times as much mischief as a scoundrel."

Other Fictional Appearances

Other Heinlein novels where Harshaw makes an appearance include:
*"The Number of the Beast" (1980)
*"The Cat Who Walks Through Walls" (1985)
*"To Sail Beyond the Sunset" (1987)


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