NIGHTMARES OF EMINENT PERSONS by Bertrand Russell

NIGHTMARES OF EMINENT PERSONS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A gathering of moralistic short stories by Bertrand Russell marks a different kind of writing venture for him, yet maintains the exhibition of his earnest concern with the public and private ills of mankind. There are several short pieces, the first group of which is based on the psychological principle that, as every passion leads to fear of non-fulfillment, every fear brings on a nightmare and resultant fanaticism, unless it is controlled by reason which, in these cases, it was not. The stories or ""nightmares"" following are on familiar themes. For example, an encounter between the Queen of Sheba and Beelzebub sees her fail for his wiles and discredit Solomon from whom she has just come; Mr. Bowdler of ""The Family Shakespeare"" dreams that his wife, who has overheard the word parthenogenesis, goes stark raving mad when she tries to discover what it means; the psychoanalyst's dream is that, of five Shakespearean heroes examined and cured by him, Hamlet revolts against the boredom of mental stability with the complaint that his soul has been killed. Of the two longer pieces, one is a tale set in the future of the cycle of tyranny, revolt and liberalism in society. The other in like vein, pursues elusive reason in the world today. Though some of these criticize where they don't thoroughly examine, they are all provocative and, in Russell's clipped fable-ese, fun to read.

Pub Date: July 26th, 1955
Publisher: Simon & Schuster