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Eccentric Lives and Peculiar Notions Paperback – 26 Oct 1989


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Cardinal Books; New edition edition (26 Oct. 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747403538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747403531
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 828,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Peter Buckley VINE VOICE on 31 May 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A study of eccentricity, or persons regarded as eccentric, must be one of the neglected areas of Psychology. If we were really objective, we might have to acknowledge many great men and women had more than their fair share of eccentricities. How healthy is the feeling in society that if someone is a little different, they must change to fit the 'norm'? I could go on, for example, the negative effects of childhood bullying, but getting back to this book, the characters within are certainly 'different'! I supppose you could say they represent extremes, and for this reason become interesting, but discussed in a light hearted way, you learn quite a bit about the times and places they lived. I enjoyed this book, itself a little eccentric, very much!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Guy reid-brown on 20 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
`Explanationalism is a disease of cranks which makes them explain everything in terms of their own theory.'
(Hence no Introduction to the book: John Michell as quoted in `John Michell: From Atlantis to Avalon' by Paul Screeton)

Mr.Screeton also approvingly and most aptly endorses Laurel Schreiber's summation of the book: `By describing unconventional behaviour and beliefs the author gives us a chance to re-examine conventional reason.'

There is a fine cast of stubborn individualists here prepared to risk money, sanity, relationships and goodness knows what else in the pursuit of a vision out of time, or before their time or ahead of time or all three at the same time. There are plenty of well illustrated stocking filler books of this variety, but as this is John Michell writing here, and in his inimitable style, the sense creeps up as one is reading it that there is something wise, profound and unspoken going on under the surface. The same empathy is extended to the patently incredible visionaries (`Hollow Earth' theory etc) to those, such as the truly noble and self sacrificing Father Jeremiah O'Callaghan about whom one can only concur with Mr. Michell that `He was one of those people who are in the right and know it and can prove it, but have the bad luck to be born in an age when no one wants to hear about it.'

A couple of quibbles - I feel the ghastly chapter concerning decadent 1960s trepanists could have been dropped; they are products of the Atleean Brave New World where `being yourself' is more a compulsory article of indulgent Faith than risking all for the Vision. Also, the last Chapter on Ufologists would make a typically fascinating stand alone Michell-piece but doesn't truly fit in with the rest here.
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By Tutters on 29 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No other nation is as proud to produce independent thinkers and to revel in yheir quirks and foibles. This wonderful collection of oddballs and obsessives was gathered by one of the most original thinkers of his time - beautifully written and curiously compelling..... I think some of them may be absolutely right!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A Delightful Romp Through Eccentricity and Peculiarity. 13 Mar. 2008
By New Age of Barbarism - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
_Eccentric Lives & Peculiar Notions_, published in 1984, by British writer John Michell is a fascinating and fun examination of the lives of various individuals who held to peculiar notions often to the point of obsession. John Michell (1933 - ) is a British author who has written extensively on ancient mysteries and ancient wisdom traditions and considers himself to be a "radical traditionalist". This book examines the lives of various obscure and eccentric individuals and their peculiar ideas on particular topics. The book is a pleasure to read and offers much fascinating material. It is certain to be enjoyed by any who delight in learning about the extremes of the human condition and the limits of human sanity.

This book includes the following topics:

"A dreadfully persistent lover" - The life of the man known as Woodcock Carden who pursued his love to extremes despite her refusal of his advances.
"The strange adventure of a Somerset genealogist" - The life of Sir Ian Stuart-Knill and his wife Lady Eve and their research into the earliest history of King Arthur.
"Loyalists of the flat earth" - The history of the belief that the earth is flat, beginning with the Greek monk Cosmas and culminating in various fundamentalists in modern times who continue to cling to the biblically based belief in a flat earth despite the globularists. This section also includes discussion of attempts to determine which theory was correct, pitting the two theories against each other and featuring such characters as Alfred Russell Wallace and Lady Blount.
"The community that dwelt within the earth" - The followers of Dr. Cyrus Teed who advocated a utopian religion called Koreshanity and their belief that the earth was a hollow sphere (as well as attempts to prove this through measurement).
"The diehard priest who opposed capitalism" - The life and exploits of the diehard priest Father Jeremiah O'Callaghan who opposed the lending at interest (usury), basing his arguments on church tradition and Scripture, including mention of William Cobbett who largely embraced his ideas.
"A most conservative M.P. and the royal boycott of Lincoln" - The life of the arch-conservative Colonel Sibthorp who opposed all reform and change to the English Constitution of his youth.
"The first lady of conspiratology" - A thorough discussion of the notion of conspiracy theory, focusing on the life of Nesta Webster and her early involvement in the occult and her unveiling of a conspiracy against Christian civilization. This section also includes discussion of the Bavarian Illuminati and the nefarious Adam Weishaupt, as well as mentioning conspiracy theory in America including in modern times such as propagated by the magazine _The Spotlight_ and the U. S. Labor Party.
"The man who got letters from statues" - A discussion of the Fox sisters and spiritualism as well as Baron Ludwig de Guldenstubbe who received letters from statues.
"Two unusual landowners" - The lives of Lord Rokeby and Henry Lee Warner and their respectively unusual practices concerning the ownership of their land.
"The consolation of a jilted Latvian" - The life of the jilted lover Edward Leedskalnin and his creations of structures out of coral as well as his book of philosophy and advice.
"The judge who visited wild men" - The life of Lord Monboddo and his philosophy of universal consciousness which was an important precursor to Darwinism as well as his peculiar belief that orangutans were primitive men and that some men had tails.
"A crusader for thoroughbred people" - The life of Sir Francis Galton and his researches into human differences and statistics as well as the power of prayer. This section also discusses Galton's development of the ideas behind eugenics and his desire to breed a thoroughbred race of people.
"The inventor of frozen battleships" - The life and inventions of the eccentric Geoffrey Nathaniel Pyke and his role in education and in attempting to create a battleship made out of an ice-like material ("pykeite") to achieve victory in the Second World War.
"The last of the old Welsh druids" - The lives of various eccentrics, including Edward Williams (known as Iolo Morganwg), Dr. Price, and Evan Davies (known as Myfyr Morganwg), their eccentric and radical ideas, and their belief in a primitive Christianity embodied in the traditions of the Welsh druids.
"Jerusalem in Scotland and other findings of a revisionist geographer" - The life of Comyns Beaumont who proposed a revisionist geography of Britain in which Britain served as the true Holy Land which had been lost because of misdoings by Constantine.
"The people with holes in their heads" - Individuals who believe that through the practice of trepanation the mind can be liberated. This section also includes a discussion of the culture surrounding drugs and LSD in the Sixties and the role such ideas came to play on such people.
"Bibliomaniacs" - The lives of various individuals who became obsessed with collecting books to such a great degree that their lives were often ruined and their homes completely covered with books.
"Jews, Britons, and the lost tribes of Israel" - The belief that the British are in fact the lost tribe of Israel, popularized by British Israelites. This section also discusses various attempts by Victorians to convert the Jews to Christ as well as the role of early Zionism.
"Doubts on Shakespeare, and a Baconian martyr" - The life of Delia Bacon who believed that the author of Shakespeare's plays was in fact Francis Bacon.
"Congressman Donnelly, the great heretic" - The life of Ignatius Donnelly and his role in populist politics and in opposition to the conspiracies of bankers and big business as well as his theories concerning Atlantis, Ragnarok (and the collision of a comet with the earth), and the true authorship of Shakespeare's plays (he believed it to be Bacon).
"Shakespearean decoders and the great Baconian treasure hunt" - Further theories on the true authorship of Shakespeare's plays, emphasizing the role of Bacon but also of other figures such as Marlowe. Includes emphasis on cryptographs in deciphering the true authorship of Shakespeare.
"Eminent ufologists" - An examination of the UFO question, including such figures as George Adamski, Carl Jung, and Brinsley le Poer Trench, as well as various theories concerning the UFO phenomena and the role of governments.

This book is a fascinating examination of the minds of various eccentric and bizarre individuals who held to peculiar notions. It is a fun read and certain to be enjoyable to all who would look at the stranger side of human nature.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Funny, Interesting & Peculiar 9 Aug. 2004
By Black Flag - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
An enjoyable compilation of interesting stories.
Each chapter is self contained, making this book ideal bathtub/bedtime reader.
I was thouroughly entertained by this book. It is a quick and fun read. The bibliography and index lets you conduct any further investigations on those subjects that particularily interested you.
Try it, you'll like it.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
great reading 26 April 2000
By Alice - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I read this book after reading another by the author as I liked him so much and I was not dissapointed! The book provides detailed, fasinating accounts of people with eccentric hobbies that they have devoted their lives to. For example, Mrs Elizabeth Wells Gallup, the baconian cipherer. A great read. enjoy.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Proof that some gene pools don't have any deep end. 14 Jun. 2006
By J. Guild - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Not a bad read for this type of book. There are some really weird people and ideas covered in this book. Too bad the author didn't go further afield and cover more of this sort of thing in the 20th Century;as well as more outside of Britain.

Most of what you'll find in the book has been rehashed time and time again. However; if you have never read about people like this,it will probably amuse you.

I did hang in and read most of the book;but the two chapters on Shakespeare were just too much of the stuff that has been repeated over and over without any resolution;that I must admit,I just couldn't force myself to plod through. However;to give credit where it is due;we are given some pretty good photographs of most of the characters involved.

I was, however,quite taken by the chapter on Geoffrey Nathaniel Pyke (1894-1948),the inventer of Frozen Battleships and how he was actually listened to by Mountbatten,Churchill and Roosevelt.I guess there is some truth to it all;but I've never come across any mention of him and his ideas.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Some Interesting Characters, Some Not 29 May 2004
By David Arndt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book bumps up against the contemporary reality that we are regularly exposed to peculiar people through news and entertainment media. This book includes some extremely odd people but it also spends a good deal of time discussing people who were odd a century ago but quite dull by today's standards. Seems to me that the author needed a sharper focus. Was it purely to entertain? Was it to give a historical sense that eccentrics have always been a part of the community? Was it simply an attempt to restate in narrative form the notion of "to each his own?" Any one of these might have called for some change in the material or a sharper edge to the narrative.
Having said all that, if individuals with odd beliefs and eccentric notions are of particular interest to the reader, there are some notable characters to be found in this book.
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