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Immortal Longings: FWH Myers and the Victorian Search for Life after Death [Paperback]

by Trevor Hamilton
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 1, 2010 1845402480 978-1845402488
New Book

Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Imprint Academic (November 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845402480
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845402488
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #729,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare gem October 1, 2012
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Based upon letters, articles, public and private records, and the unpublished autobiography of Frederic Myers, one of the founders of the Society For Psychical Research (SPR).

This book is a rare find, indeed, because of the sheer truth of the matter. The first section of the book develops Mr. Myers personality and events that shaped who he came to be. It follows him briefly though childhood and into college, where he lost a medal in poetry when is was discovered he had borrowed a little to much from other classic poets, and he was forced to forfeit his medal.

Mr. Myers then befriended Annie Marshall, who was to be the greatest love of his life. Annie Marshall was a married woman, and their relationship was platonic. But she had a troubling life, and Mr. Myers emotionally supported her. She was in a terrible marriage and suffered greatly from her husband as he battled mental illness. Mr. Myers was devastated when, after feeling unbearable pressure, Annie Marshall committed suicide.

Events such as these, and his burning passion to find out if we really die, helped Mr. Myers to help form the SPR. Originally founded by William Barrett, the SPR was lead by Mr. Myers, Edmund Gurney, and Mr. and Mrs Sidgwick. The SPR was highly controversial in it's day. The world scientific community and intellectuals scoffed at the SPR, but they felt the research was needed, and continued anyways.

During this time, Mr. Myers married Eveleen Tennant, who was to be a central force in his life and the SPR after his death. The book goes into his feeling for Eveleen, and how, although he loved her, he felt disconnected from life and his family. But the greatest love of his life, Annie Marshall, still influenced him, and Eveleen could never overcome that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Panoramic View of F.W.H. Myers May 2, 2013
Well, Immortal Longings is a biography of Frederic William Henry Myers written by an English historian Trevor Hamilton, and although Mr. Hamilton apparently may have some interest or belief in survival of the human spirit after death I did not think that that bias was evident in the book. My greatest praise for the book is that it presents a voluminous amount of information about a group of men and women engaged in spiritualistic investigations during the later part of the 19th century from a seemingly purely historical viewpoint. Not only is much detailed documentation given about Frederic Myers but there is a large amount of well-referenced information about Myers' relationships with other people including psychic investigators Edmund Gurney, Henry Sidgwick, Eleanor Sidgwick, William James, Oliver Lodge, Richard Hodgson and others. My overall impression was that a large amount of facts were presented about Myers, his family and peers.

I did not find the book dry or bland in any way. For my tastes, I think it would make a great movie or BBC mini-series. It is relatively easy to read and well formatted with an extensive bibliography and index. I suggest that anyone interested in the paranormal, mediums, ESP, Super-Psi as well as life after death should read this very well written, and well documented book. I think it provides a basic understanding, a structure if you will, upon which to build one's own opinion about the validity of paranormal activities.

I agree that the first section of the book about Myers' early history does jump around a lot but that is a minor inconvenience. It is difficult to follow a time line but that eventually becomes unimportant in the second half of the book. And, there are some very minor proofing oversights throughout the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant biography with a brilliant ending January 21, 2013
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Hamilton spares no expense in getting to the root of Myers and his personality. The work was very thorough and one has the distinct impression that, if indeed Myers did survive death, he is pleased with the work Hamilton put into identifying with who he was.

Trevor Hall and numerous other authors made certain assumptions and blatant errors in analyzing this great historical figure and the present author clears these assumptions and speculations up very nicely, citing the sense of "Platonic love" that Myers had for the likes of Annie Marshall (being, in a sense, his "spiritual" fulfillment and ideal). Misconceptions on the relationship between Edmund Gurney and Myers are also cleared up with due justice. The final concluding chapters were the ones I found the most interesting to read, as it goes through Myers's idea of "the subliminal self", his sittings with Rosina Thompson (that convinced him of survival in accordance with his sittings with Piper), the impact and evaluation of the monumental "Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death", the elusive and complex 'cross correspondences' and, finally, the concluding poem that Myers himself wrote -one which leaves the reader with a pleasant feeling, much like what follows laying witness to a beautiful sunrise, or the first glance outdoors after a night of quaint, winter-wonder.

All in all, I can't recommend this highly enough for anyone interested in the early history of psychical research or its eccentric pioneers.

(the numerous pictures in the book were also appropriate and memorable)
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