Friday, April 25, 2008

tantalizing tales

Wikipedia on Winston Churchill (novelist):

Winston Churchill (November 10, 1871 - March 12, 1947) was an American novelist.


In 1919, Churchill decided to enter a prolonged period of self-reflection. He stopped writing and withdrew from public life. As a result of this he was gradually forgotten by the public. In 1940, The Uncharted Way, his first book in twenty years, was published. The book was a reflection of Churchill's thoughts on religion. He did not seek to publicize the book and it received little attention. Shortly before his death he said, "It is very difficult now for me to think of myself as a writer of novels, as all that seems to belong to another life."


TIME review of The Uncharted Way titled Prophet and dated June 17, 1940:

In the 23 years since U. S. Novelist Winston Churchill (The Crisis, Richard Carvel) last published a book, he has kept much to himself. He lived quietly in Cornish, N. H., and it was understood that he had stopped writing. Far from it: he was ruminating and writing his profession of religious faith, The Uncharted Way.

The book is an examination, chiefly through the Old Testament prophets and the parables of Jesus, of the roots of religion, individualism, science, human conduct, human hope. It is the work of a stonily independent amateur thinker. Winston Churchill is convinced that certain of the prophets, notably Isaiah (a collaboration) and Jesus (if he existed), had hold of a form of science, psychology and self-knowledge which all religions, including Christianity, have repudiated, and which science itself rather scorns than endorses.

The U. S. Churchill's thesis: The essence of the prophets' perception was a form of creative, evolutionary energy, through which an individual might free himself from fear, desire, moral death.

This form of energy is described in the Gospels, Churchill believes, by the Greek word agape: non-possessive rather than possessive love. This was and is, he believes, perhaps as actual a force as electricity. Fear is the root of all state-religions, it suffuses and gives shape to society, and is described by the prophets as Satan or the Tempter. Craving, a low state of creative energy, is the root of rebellion, and rebellion likewise is a state of sin or death. The technique by which the hostile power of the world is "bound" is broadly similar to Tolstoy's or Gandhi's nonresistance of evil.

Churchill divides the human career into three days or ages: that of the animal, free in his instincts; that of the human world, tortured between fear and craving; that of resurrection. Indirectly suggesting that the end of the second age, of the human world, is at hand, he recalls that Christ compared such catastrophes to the first leaves of a fig tree, by which men know that summer is near. In his closing chapter Winston Churchill begins to sketch a program for The Third Day. His resurrection is not supernatural but earthly. The reader who finds in this chapter cold comfort may perhaps be pardoned. But he who finds in it mere idiocy may perhaps be mistaken.

Winston Churchill is not to be confused with Great Britain's Prime Minister, but often has been. No kin, they are old acquaintances. Britain's Churchill once suggested that one of them change names; U. S. Churchill, as the senior, passed the buck. Britain's Churchill thenceforth signed his books Winston S. (for Spencer). In 1903, when Winston banqueted Winston S. at Boston's Copley-Plaza, Winston S. got the bill.

Update: A drawing of Churchill is available here.

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