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(12/31/2007) Resurrection by William Gerhardi. New York. 1934. Harcourt Brace & Company. keywords: Literature England. 372 pages.

'One grows older furtively, under the watchful eyes of friends. But gradually one sees they are accomplices who condone the crime; which turns into a weakness, an indulgence, finally a boast.' - These are the opening lines from William Gerhardi's RESURRECTION, my favorite astral-projection novel.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   A thirty-seven year-old man attends a ball during the course of which he has an out-of-body experience and revisits his entire past. 'Resurrection' is fiction and autobiography merged into one. For though, in its passionate argument for the resurrection of the body, it presents the entire truth of the author's experience, it remains fiction in its technique and in its surface of names and pattern. A brilliant London ball furnishes the setting. Here are encountered the singular and bright individuals whose lives and thoughts have contributed to the reality of the author's existence. Throughout this affair, dancing, falling in love, conversing, eating, he is driven by the powerful conviction that has lately come to him - the conviction that we do not die. This belief so colors and compels each moment, that he has the force to relive his entire life in the course of the evening. More than half of the book is given to an extraordinary recital, during which the author summons up the experiences he had in one year that was unusually crowded with adventure of every sort, a year of travel when he visited America, Greece, Egypt, India. Returning to the ball at last, he returns to his present and to the bewildering contrast that his new belief in an after-life provides. The whole last section is a record of the personal conflict, subtly played out in the setting with which the novel begins. New in treatment as in story, this represents William Gerhardi's most mature contribution to fiction. The style and signature are unmistakable; and they are the same that distinguished such novels as FUTILITY and THE POLYGLOTS.

William Alexander Gerhardie was a British novelist and playwright. Gerhardie was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s H. G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of 'waiting' later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece Again it deals with Russia He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography 'The Casanova Fable', his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie's star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two 'definitive collected works' published by Macdonald More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest 'Pronounced jer hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har'dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.'

 

 

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