Digital History at Ursinus

Mabel Dodge Writes on The Liver

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Mabel Dodge Writes on The Liver


The Life of Mabel Dodge


Why is Mabel Dodge Writing About Livers?

No, seriously. Why is Mabel Dodge writing about livers? Dodge performed well in a wide range of fields. Dodge was an artist, a reformer, and an overall orchestrator of all things radical about Greenwich Village 1913. One thing she certainly was not was a doctor, and she certainly had little to no knowledge about health and medicine. Yet, Dodge has a column in a leading national publication about a fairly obscure organ, the liver. Dodge also doesn’t say anything concrete about the liver in her whole column about it. Dodge’s column includes no concrete health tips: only bits and pieces of Euro-centric generalized history with no sources for her information. Yet somehow, Dodge manages to ramble for two pages about livers. While not medically useful, this article is a marvelous example of the institution that Dodge had grown into. By 1917, Dodge wasn’t just an emerging woman of Bohemia: she was a celebrity guru. Dodge was writing a weekly article for the Washington Times about whatever topic she wanted, and this week’s just happened to be on the liver.

When she first arrived in the States barely five years earlier, no one had a clue who Mabel Dodge was—she established herself to the level of a socialite legend in that short amount of time. The article’s topic doesn’t actually matter, because at this point, people wanted to just hear Dodge talk. The piece is amusing because Dodge clearly knows absolutely nothing of value on the topic of the “The Liver.” She writes, “In olden times kings used to have their pet animals cut open to find out how their livers looked.” This statement is completely generalized and doesn’t even specify a region or origin for these “kings”. Dodge even writes that the liver has “with a mysterious power and function,” which she doesn’t base in any analysis or facts. It’s essentially a modernist piece just going on about the organ of her choice. In fact, most of the details she provides about the liver are likely from an encyclopedia entry because she lists what “liver” means in other languages. Dodge even increases her word count by including words in English that liver “sounds like”. Dodge writes, “The word lever an object for raising weights and believer and liver are all near relations and resemble each other in meaning. They all carry us back to the word faith by which we all live.” The comparison Dodge makes here is absurd! However, the article does illustrate how she had reached a point where her ramblings were actually more widely distributed and consumed by the 1917 public than many of her Bohemian peers.


Mabel Dodge


The Washington News Letter


News Letter Publishing Co.


October 1917


News Letter Publishing Co.







Text Item Type Metadata


Mabel Dodge Writes About the Liver
People Who Have Liver Trouble Are the Ones Who Have No Faith in Anything
Mabel Dodge In Washington Times
In olden times kings used to have their pet animals cut open to find out how their livers looked This was because it has always been well known that animals are very sensitive to the people around them and grow to resemble their masters.
You can really humanize an animay very much if you have it in the house with you a great deal because we are all spiritually and physically contagious to each other and also to animals.
So these kings in antiquity thought that if they examined the livers of their pet dogs and cats they would be able to discover the state of their own livers.
And why did they want to examine the liver particularly.
Because for longer than you can guess the liver has been endowed by people with a mysterious power and function.
Look at the name it bears and say it to yourself listening to its literal meaning liver the Liver.
So when kings wanted to find out in what state of being they were they looked to the Liver in them The liver is a gland that secretes a liquid called bile which is most important in aiding the digestion When anything goes wrong with the liver and the distribution of bile becomes unregulated the whole person is injured the nutritive organs no longer do their work proper the system is more or less poisoned.
The people who have the most liver trouble are the ones who haven t any faith in anything or who have had faith in something and lost it.
Look at all the people you know and you will find that the ones who have not liver trouble are the ones who have faith in their work or faith in their life giving human relations or faith in some great cause or ideal or faith in God.
I don t mean the ones who merely profess it but the ones who really have it.
These are the ones who live by faith who get their living essence from faith and the liver is their witness
In French the liver is called foie and faith is called foi It is the same word in pronunciation an e is added that's all In German life is leben and liver is lieber.
This is no accidental connection but an ancient and fundamental one.
In Russian liver is pechionka which means heater as petch is stove And faith is the warmer the heater is it not.
In the legend Prometheus stole the sacred fire from heaven He tried to steal life or faith and he was punished by being chained to a rock where vultures devoured his liver.
In our English language there is a close connection between certain words that seems to carry out this relationship we are trying to show.
The word lever an object for raising weights and beliver and liver are all near relations and resemble each other in meaning They all carry us back to the word faith by which we all live.
The faither or father is the liver.
Perhaps all this seems very fantastic I give it to you for experiment.
Watch yourself and watch your friends You will trace pessimism discontent sloth and all those dreary downward looking moods to the liver and the liver will always tell you the state of the man's being or living or believing just as it told the kings in olden time

Dodge, Mabel. "Mabel Dodge Writes About the Liver." Washington Times Oct. 1917: 154-55.

Original Format





Mabel Dodge, “Mabel Dodge Writes on The Liver,” Digital History at Ursinus, accessed June 22, 2018,