Writing in the Saturday Review of Literature (April 9th,1932), Ellsworth Huntington remarked about this fascinating book, “If he (Pitkin) had written in 1928 instead of 1929 (sic—it was written in ‘32) he would probably have written ‘A Short History of Progress’ instead of ‘A Short Introduction to Human Stupidity.’”
The late 19th and early 20th century proved to be an interesting period in attempting to meld science with Spiritualism; the rational with the metaphysical; the known with the unknown. Although much of the cultural emphasis of the Victorian and later Edwardian philosophical schools intersected with the heady progress in the hard sciences (especially Chemistry and Physics) including Social Darwinism, Aristotelian-based Pragmatism, Rationalism and in later years the rise of Analytical Philosophy, there was a strong parallel current of more Platonic-inspired metaphysics as espoused by such schools as the Theosophical Society and “occult” practitioners such as Madame Blavatsky.
The historical importance in Edwardian-era literature, art and aesthetics of the tragically abbreviated life of T.E. Hulme (1883 – 1917) is highlighted in this 1960 literary biographical study by Alun Jones, formerly lecturer in English at University of Hull. Hulme was raised, like so many at the time, in a severe, Victorian middle-class home (think Ivy Compton-Burnett novels) and subsequently rebelled during two stints at Cambridge where he managed to study Mathematics and Philosophy before being removed in 1904 for an “escapade” during a boat-race night.
One of the small joys of library collection development is that of coming across interesting, older odd volumes stored away on shelves ready for the picking yet often overlooked for the newer or the more familiar.