4 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Entertaining, but how accurate?,
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This review is from: The First Psychic: The Peculiar Mystery of a Victorian Wizard (Paperback)
The author of this book is apparently a scholar and historian (according to the book blurbs) which makes the fact that he makes two egregious errors all the more curious. On page 108 he writes that Lady Shelley, the daughter-in-law of the poet (Percy Shelley), was the creator of "Frankenstein". In fact, it was the wife of Percy Shelley who was the creator of Frankenstein and this is so widely known one wonders how he could have made this mistake.
Then, on page 163 he refers to the "deceased husband, Edgar Allan Poe", of Sarah Helen Whitman. In fact, Whitman and Poe never married, though they were engaged and a mistaken announcement of their nuptials was published in January 1849. (See: Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991: 385-388. ISBN 0060923318)
So, having noted these two errors, I cannot help but wonder how many other errors this book might contain which are not part of my own knowledge base but which might be caught by others? In short, I'm afraid that this may not be a very trustworthy account even if it is entertainingly written and does cover the life of Daniel Home fairly comprehensively.
I would have liked to have seen the book include more extensive accounts of Home's seances written by contemporaries instead of bits and pieces here and there.
I also find it interesting to note that, despite the abundant evidence for psychic phenomena that the author recounts, as well as the overwhelming evidence of social denial, which is acknowledged and discussed more or less rationally, the author himself believes that Home was a charlatan.
The book paints a rather unattractive portrait of many scientific and literary individuals who one might otherwise have thought were open-minded and honest. At the end, despite his declared attempt to write a "balanced" bio, one even questions the honesty of the author.
Still, as I said, it can be entertaining and, even if one cannot wholly rely on the facts presented, this book can be a jumping off point for further research on one of the most interesting figures/events in the history of the paranormal.
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Initial post: 8 Jul 2009 23:00:24 BDT
Dr. Peter Lamont says:
This is just silly. For example, the 'reviewer' seems to have misread the relevant passage, in which Lady Shelley is described as 'the daughter-in-law of the poet and the creator of Frankenstein' (p. 108) i.e. of Shelley (the poet) and his wife (the creator of Frankenstein). I appreciate that anyone can post a review here, even when they admit that they don't know the subject matter themselves, but surely questioning the honesty of authors is another matter. Frankly, if it was possible to take the review seriously, I'd be offended.
In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2014 02:20:03 GMT
Last edited by the author on 1 Jan 2014 02:46:09 GMT
Benjamin Steigmann says:
Mrs. Knight-Jadczyk, or Dr. Lamont,
I am a "facebook friend" of Bernhard Guenther, and am defending modern parapsychology in Dean Radin's blog with his, we have controverted criticism of the modern parapsychology database: http://deanradin.blogspot.com/2013/04/sho
I am curious if you can direct me to worthwhile literature on Home. I have done some private digging on him, and was able to come up with the following:
1) Hereward Carrington's defense of Home in a book that attacks other mediums as frauds: https://archive.org/stream/physicalphenom
2) Stephen Braude's critique of the Trevor Hall book - he critiques allegations of fraud based on the Merrifield and Petrovo-Solovovo arguments: http://www.academia.edu/2976261/The_Enigm
3) The Journal of the Society for Psychical Research article "Mr. Browning on D.D. Home", which argues that his attacks on him by the Brownings do not carry much weight: http://books.google.com/books?id=h-oBAAAA
4) The following defense of William Crookes' experiments on Home controverting Gordon Stein -see pp. 9-42 of the following: http://www.scientificexploration.org/jour
I am also working on obtaining some of the info in the bibliographies here: monkeywah.typepad.com/files/physical-medi
These are the attacks on him that I have not seen controverted:
1) Delia Logan attended a sťance with Home in London and during the sťance Home positioned himself near a staircase where luminous hands were seen to appear every few minutes. The host of the sťance noticed Home had placed a small bottle upon a mantle piece and then slipped the bottle into his pocket, upon examination the bottle was found to contain phosphorus oil (reference: Paul Kurtz. (1985). A Skeptic's Handbook of Parapsychology. Prometheus Books. p. 255)
2) The American sculptor Hiram Powers attended a sťance with Home and wrote at length to Elizabeth Browning explaining how Home had faked the table-rappings and movements (reference: Hiram Powers' Paradise Lost. (1985). Hudson River Museum. p. 26. This letter can be found in Clara Louise Dentler. White Marble: The Life and Letters of Hiram Powers, Sculptor. p. 111 )
Is Lamont aware of these attacks on home?
I have seen two defenses of Home as follows:
Does Lamont cover these?
Just so I know before I order this book.
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