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Between the Pigeonholes: Gerald Heard, 1889-1971

Between the Pigeonholes: Gerald Heard, 1889-1971 (Hardback)

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Aldous Huxley described Gerald Heard as "that rare being-a learned man who [made] his mental home on the vacant spaces between the pigeonholes." Heard's off-beat interests made him a cultural and intellectual pioneer on both sides of the Atlantic in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Despite accolades from such figures as E.M. Forster, who characterized him as "one of the most penetrating minds in England," and Christopher Isherwood, who described him upon his death as one of the "few great magic mythmakers and revealers of life's wonder," Heard is largely unknown today. Between the Pigeonholes is the first published full-length study of Gerald Heard. Alison Falby examines Heard's ideas and contexts in interwar Britain and postwar America, demonstrating his significance in several important twentieth-century movements. These movements include popular science and psychology, psychical research, Eastern spirituality, pacifism, cooperativism, and Californian counter-culture. All of Heard's involvements expressed his desire to convey religious ideas in the modern languages of biological, social, and physical science.

Falby also traces Heard's shifting political leanings from left-liberal in the early-1930s to libertarian in the early-1960s. She finds that his modernist theological approach, conventionally associated with liberal religion and politics, provided spiritual fodder for those on both the Left and the Right: Isherwood and W.H. Auden on the one hand, and Clare Boothe Luce and Spiritual Mobilization on the other. Using Heard as a prism through which to examine popular ideas, Falby shows that the twentieth century contained much political and religious heterogeneity. This heterogeneity illustrates the diverse and overlapping roots of both liberal religion and conservative politics in the twenty-first century.

Alison Falby was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1972. In 2000, she received her doctorate in Modern History at Oxford University. She currently teaches and studies at the Faculty of Divinity, Trinity College, at the University of Toronto.

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