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Annie Besant Paperback – January 21, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0766133174 ISBN-10: 0766133176

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, LLC (January 21, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0766133176
  • ISBN-13: 978-0766133174
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 8.1 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,506,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
"Annie Besant" is a biography of Theosophical leader Annie Wood Besant, written by a certain Geoffrey West, whose name is apparently a pseudonym. West claims to be neutral, but he is mostly positive to Besant, and had the opportunity to meet and converse with her in person while doing research for his book. The author references two autobiographical sketches published by Besant herself. "Annie Besant" was published in 1928.

The book speaks largely for itself, and mentions Besant's evolution from the Christianity of her childhood and youth to atheism, Fabian socialism and finally Theosophy. Besant seems to have been a naturally-born agitator, and successively played "Paul" to liberal atheist Charles Bradlaugh, socialist Bernard Shaw and Theosophist Madame Blavatsky. Without Besant, the movements she touched would probably have lost a great amount of their mass appeal. Her relationship with Theosophy is particularly curious, with the elderly Blavatsky making Besant one of her closest confidants in a matter of months - and according to Besant's supporters, her chosen successor. It's certainly peculiar (or a peculiarly modern phenomenon) that an esoteric group like the Theosophists was turned into a veritable mass movement by a person who was at bottom a populist political agitator.

On a more earthly note, West mentions a bizarre meeting between Besant and none other than Edward Pusey, the leader of the Oxford Movement, who tried to "convince" her to remain a Christian by essentially threatening her with eternal damnation. Another absurd episode took place when Besant's mother (still a Christian) insisted on taking communion at her deathbed together with Besant (a free-thinker).
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