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William Gerhardie: Resurrection

According to Gerhardie, this book is an autobiographical novel recording a true experience out of the body, followed that night by a London ball at which, against a background of social comedy, the theme is taken up and developed into a passionate argument for the immortality of the soul, illustrated by the spontaneous recollection of a year rich in travel and having the power to evoke a vanished lifetime in a day. The Gerhardie-narrator has an out-of-body experience and watches himself (and others). At the beginning of the book, we meet the narrator (who is writing a book called Resurrection on the immortality of the soul). He decides to have an afternoon nap before dining out. He wakes up but, instead of finding himself in bed, is hovering in the air. Of course, as this is Gerhardie, the whole experience is not described in a serious tone but in his usual tongue-in-cheek manner. But, of course, no-one believes him. He goes to the Basingstokes to dinner, planning to announce his discovery.

“I have an important announcement to make”, I said to the girl at my side.
I shook my head.
“We do not die.”

He tries to convince his friends, such as Max Fisher, the man famous for his evil tongue, based on Hugh Kingsmill, Lord Ottercove and the brilliant but mysterious Bonzo, but they laugh at him. Most of the book is the usually brilliantly witty Gerhardie wandering around London society as well as other parts of the world, only with the added aspect of his “resurrection”, how he tries to find like-minded people, write his book and how he reflects on the immortality of the soul. Though his tone is mocking all the time, it is clear that astral projection was important for Gerhardie. He had read books by Sylvan Muldoon and Hereward Carrington and used their techniques to induce projections.

The book received mixed reviews. The critics lifted it gingerly and dropped it with a witticism about hanging on a chandelier, Gerhardie later remarked. Some critics were kindly but not impressed. Others, such as J B Priestley were very impressed. Whatever your views on astral projection, the book remains an interesting addition to Gerhardie’s work.

Publishing history

First published 1934 by Cassell