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The Edge of the Unknown

1 rating: -1.0
A book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Publisher: Fredonia Books
1 review about The Edge of the Unknown

Sir Arthur defends the reality of spiritualism

  • Nov 24, 2001
This is the last published work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, much better known for his creation of Sherlock Holmes---"without question the most famous character in English literature."

Conan Doyle was a long-standing member of the Society for Psychical Research, and became more interested in the paranormal after the untimely death of his son. However, "The Edge of the Unknown" does not present rational arguments for and against the existence of life after death, as this reader might have expected from the creator of the world's greatest fictional detective:

"I believe that all of these varied [psychic or paranormal] experiences have been sent to us not to amuse us by tales to be told and then forgotten but as the essential warp and woof of a new spiritual garment which is to be woven for the modern world. We live in an age which has long demanded a sign, yet when the sign was sent it was blind to it."

The author does not fashion a logical case so much as he harangues and pleads, and indulges in embarrassing name-calling. One of his primary targets is Harry Houdini, the great magician, escape artist, and debunker of psychic charlatans. Conan Doyle claims to be Houdini's friend, then waits until the magician is safely dead and argues that Houdini used paranormal powers to perform his escape routines---otherwise they would have been impossible!

According to this book's dust cover, "...Conan Doyle was a tough, not-to-be-bamboozled skeptic. The reader will find, then, his testimony especially persuasive---encompassing mediums whose bodies produce ectoplasm; weird prophetic dreams; séances with 'ghosts' of Lenin, Oscar Wilde, Dickens and other famous people."

This reader was persuaded of just the opposite. She was especially disturbed by the author's claim that the Great Houdini was a fraud because he 'used' paranormal powers in his escape routines, then turned around and debunked other 'legitimate' psychics.

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