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Arthur Conan Doyle, SPIRITUALISM and Harry Houdini

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Author Topic: Arthur Conan Doyle, SPIRITUALISM and Harry Houdini  (Read 1565 times)
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« on: May 17, 2007, 02:48:12 pm »

Why would a man, respected as a writer and as a (sometimes reluctant) pillar of the establishment, risk ridicule by embracing spiritualism? Death, as the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography puts it, was an “unobtrusive but lifelong companion” for Doyle. The deaths of close friends and family affected him deeply, as evidenced by the fixation with death which runs through much of his fiction. But it was the deaths of his son and his brother, together with the mass slaughter during the Boer War and the First World War, which seem to have had a mind-altering effect on him.

 Spiritualism, the continued existence of loved ones on a different plane, separate but able to communicate, offers an obvious source of comfort to those who grieve. If all religion could be said to be the triumph of belief over provable fact, the incentive to suspend disbelief must be that much bigger when the apparent reward can be enjoyed, not in an afterlife yet to come, but immediately. If the loved one continues to speak to you, albeit through a medium, the pain of loss is lessened or, perhaps, soothed away completely.

Given the vigour with which Doyle pursued his other preoccupations -- letters to the Editor of The Times reveal his strongly-held views on everything from the conduct of the Boer War to the advantages of a Channel Tunnel -- it is not surprising that, having been won over to a belief in the spirit world, he should become a crusader for spiritualism.

Doyle devoted the last 11 years of his life to writing about spiritualism and communication with the dead.

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Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.

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