Arnold Bennett, The Glimpse, (London: Chapman and Hall, 1909)
‘Self-Portrait’ by Charles Conder (Tullie House) [Charles Conder is one of several artists mentioned in ‘The Glimpse’]
Arnold Bennett has been described as a materialist, a realist, a writer whose novels have ‘a narrative emphasis on the drab, the squalid and the mundane’.  He was, however, also capable of dreaming. In one such dream, he writes that he ‘stood by my own dead body and saw the pennies upon my eyes. I cannot remember at this distance of time what the rest of the dream was, but it had to do with the adventures of a soul after death’.
Never one to waste good material, Bennett immediately saw the potential for a story, and in May 1908 he wrote the short story ‘The Glimpse’ about the proprietor of a Staffordshire earthenware factory who has an out-of-body experience whilst lying in bed close to death. Bennett quickly came to the view that the material of the story was capable of being much more fully developed into a full-length novel with sound commercial prospects. Belief in Spiritualism was widespread, so the story of a soul’s adventures at the point of death would not lack a potential audience. Bennett wrote and published his approximately 70,000 word novel The Glimpse in 1909, between his two longer and better-known acknowledged masterpieces The Old Wives’ Tale (1908) and Clayhanger (1910). Continue reading
‘Line of Life’ by William Shackleton, 1915 (Tate)
Proposals are sought for an essay collection entitled ‘The Occult Imagination in Britain, 1875-1947’, to be proposed to Ashgate’s new Among the Victorians and the Modernists series. Focusing on the development, popular diffusion, and international networks of British occulture between 1875-1947, the interdisciplinary volume will capitalize on the recent surge of scholarly interest in the late Victorian occult revival by tracing the development of its central and residual manifestations through the fin de siècle and two world wars. We aim to challenge the polarization of Victorian and modernist occult art and practice into discrete expressions of either a nostalgic reaction to the crisis of faith or a radical desire for the new. The collection will also map the affinities between popular and elite varieties of occultism in this period, recognizing the degree to which esoteric activities and texts relied on and borrowed from the exoteric sphere. Continue reading
This is the first conference of the newly established research network, Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, modernism and the Arts c. 1875-1960, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The conference will be organized in collaboration with the Centre for the History of Hermetic philosophy and related currents, University of Amsterdam.
Building on a very successful exploratory colloquium at Liverpool Hope University in December 2010, this conference will explore what the arts can tell us about the complex relationships between Theosophy, modernity and artistic culture, c. 1875-1960. The purpose of this conference is to bring together an international group of scholars working on Theosophy and the arts across the globe in this period, and as a result, map the rich variety of artistic responses to the influence of Theosophy and the Theosophical movements in the modern world. Continue reading