Literature Underground Man

Underground Man

Underground Man
Catalog # SKU3347
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Gabriel Tarde
ISBN 10: 161033678X
ISBN 13: 9781610336789


Underground Man

Gabriel Tarde
Preface By H.G. Wells

He has put into it along with a charming fancy his genialness and depth of spirit, his ideas on the influence of art and the importance of love, in an exceptional social milieu. This agreeable day-dream is vigorously thought out. On reading it we fancy we are again seeing and hearing Tarde. In order to indulge in a repetition of the illusion, a pious friendship has desired to clothe this fascinating work in an appropriate dress.

Large Print, 15 point font



It reflects not at all on Mr Cloudesley Brereton's admirable work of translation to remark how subtly the spirit of such work as this of M. Tarde's changes in such a process. There are certain things peculiar, I suppose, to every language in the world, certain distinctive possibilities in each. To French far more than to English, belong the intellectual liveliness, the cheerful, ironical note, the professorial playfulness of this present work. English is a less nimble, more various and moodier tongue, not only in the sound and form of its sentences but in its forms of thought. It clots and coagulates, it proliferates and darkens, one jests in it with difficulty and great danger to a sober reputation, and one attempts in vain to figure Professor Giddings and Mr Benjamin Kidd, Doctor Beattie Crozier and Mr Wordsworth Donisthorpe glittering out into any so cheerful an exploit as this before us.

Like Mr Gilbert's elderly naval man, they "never larks nor plays", and if indeed they did so far triumph over the turgid intricacies of our speech and the conscientious gravity of our style of thought, there would still be the English public to consider, a public easily offended by any lack of straightforwardness in its humorists, preferring to be amused by known and recognised specialists in that line, in relation to themes of recognised humorous tendency, and requiring in its professors as the concomitant of a certain dignified inaccessibility of thought and language, an honourable abstinence from the treacheries, as it would consider them, of irony and satire. Imagine a Story of the Future from Mr Herbert Spencer!

America and the north of England would have swept him out of all respect.... But M. Tarde being not only a Member of the Institute and Professor at the College of France, but a Frenchman, was free to give these fancies that entertained him, public, literary, and witty expression, without self-destruction, and produce what has, in its English dress, a curiously unfamiliar effect. Yet the English reader who can overcome his natural disinclination to this union of intelligence and jesting will find a vast amount of suggestion in M. Tarde's fantastic abundance, and bringing his habitual gravity to bear may even succeed in digesting off the humour altogether, and emerging with edification of-it must be admitted-a rather miscellaneous sort.

It is perhaps remarkable that for so many people, so tremendous a theme as the material future of mankind should only be approachable either through a method of conscientiously technical, pseudo-scientific discussion that is in effect scarcely an approach at all or else in this mood of levity. I know of no book in this direction that can claim to be a permanent success which combines a tolerable intelligibility with a simple good faith in the reader. One may speculate how this comes about? The subject it would seem is so grave and great as to be incompatibly out of proportion to the affairs and conditions of the individual life about which our workaday thinking goes on.

We are interested indeed, but at the same time we feel it is outside us and beyond us. To turn one's attention to it is at once to get an effect of presumption, strain, and extravagant absurdity. It is like picking up a spade to attack a mountain, and one's instinct is to put oneself right in the eyes of one's fellow-men at once, by a few unmistakably facetious flourishes. It is the same instinct really as that protective "foolery" in which schoolboys indulge when they embark upon some hopeless undertaking, or find themselves entirely outclassed at a game.

184 pages - 5½ x 8½ softcover
ISBN-10: 161033678X
ISBN-13: 9781610336789

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