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Pauline Genee

After studying French and Russian, Pauline Genee (b. 1968) went on to hold a number of positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since 2011 she has combined her literary career with freelance work. She first encountered the story of Clever Hans the wonder horse when she took an introductory course in psychology at university and became fascinated by a photograph of old Wilhelm von Osten with his horse and a blackboard full of sums. She describes *Duel with Horse *as an ode to wilfulness.

Duel met paard

Duel met paard

(Querido, 2014, 254 pagina's)

The scene is Berlin, 1904. Former teacher Wilhelm von Osten is the proud owner and trainer of Clever Hans the wonder horse. By stamping his hoof, Hans can solve all manner of arithmetical puzzles, from fractions to square roots. Public speculation is rife. Is Von Osten a con artist? A dabbler in the occult? Is he resorting to electrical trickery? Deftly weaving historical fact and fictional narrative, Genee reconstructs the reasons why Von Osten’s horse never became a household name to rival Pavlov’s dog.

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