Pseudopod 379: The Greatest Good Of The Greatest Number

by Gertrude Atherton. “The Greatest Good Of The Greatest Number” first appeared in her collection THE BELL IN THE FOG AND OTHER STORIES (1905). GERTRUDE ATHERTON (1857-1948), a protege of Ambrose Bierce, was an American novelist, primarily of social romances, who also wrote popular histories, biographies and the occasional supernatural or dark fiction tale. Her first publication was “The Randolphs of Redwood: A Romance,” serialized in The Argonaut in March 1882 under the pseudonym Asmodeus. When she revealed to her family that she was the author, it caused her to be ostracized. She had a satirical (and sometimes harshly acerbic) wit and was an advocate for social reform and women’s rights. Her novels often feature strong heroines who pursue independent lives and she is best remembered for her California Series, several novels and short stories dealing with the social history of California. Her few contributions to the weird genre – which include “The Striding Place” (rejected by The Yellow Book as “too gruesome”) and “The Bell In The Fog” – are invariably well crafted and display a strong sense of the dramatic and a debt to Henry James. She also composed tales of psychological horror, of which this episode is one. Listen Here