Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Farther Shore: An Anthology of World Opinion on the Immortality of the Soul

reviewed by Jesse Halsey | c1934

From the Egyptian minstrel of 2160 BC to Sir Oliver Lodge, the editors bring the eternal longing and question. Professor Whitehead’s brief forward speaks of the “simple, concise beauty of the introductions to the various authors supplied by the editors.” They have done well. From the first to the last of these selections we move among friends, with the sympathy of kindred thought and courage. Most of us will need the guiding hand of the editors for the Chinese and Indian and Egyptian sages appear with the classical writers. The Bible is adequately quoted and the Christian tradition well represented—Augustine, Gregory, Bernard, Aquinas, Bunyan, Edwards, and others.

Poets and philosophers, the ancients, the medievalists, and the moderns speak with different tongues, but one catches the same accent of longing in most.

One would suppose it were perfectly legitimate to let the heart speak and, indeed, more fair. To add, for example, Tennyson’s last word in “Crossing the Bar,” or Browning’s in “The Epilogue to Asolondo,” some word of Sir William Osler’s after his Revere had gone west to those here printed would more fully represent mature conclusion. Or Emerson’s “Threnody,” or some passage from his diary, after his little boy had died! In their selections the editors let the mind speak and have suppressed the heart’s deeper expression.

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