'I am the first disciple of Charles Fort. Henceforth I am a Fortean'. Since Ben Hecht wrote this line in reviewing "The Book of The Damned in 1919", Charles Fort - whose very name spawned an adjective, Fortean, defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as 'relating to or denoting paranormal phenomena' - has so divided opinion that to Theodore ...
'I am the first disciple of Charles Fort. Henceforth I am a Fortean'. Since Ben Hecht wrote this line in reviewing "The Book of The Damned in 1919", Charles Fort - whose very name spawned an adjective, Fortean, defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as 'relating to or denoting paranormal phenomena' - has so divided opinion that to Theodore Dreiser he was 'the most fascinating literary figure since Poe;' to "The New York Times" he was 'the enfant terrible of science;' and to HG Wells he was 'one of the most damnable bores who ever cut scraps from out of the way newspapers'.This is the seminal biography of the 20th century's premier chronicler of the paranormal, an inspiration to anyone seeking significance in chaos. Fort provides the impetus for public interest in mysterious phenomena - he coined the word 'teleportation', gathered accounts of spontaneous human combustion, monsters, poltergeists, and what became known as UFO's. His legacy extends to conspiracy theories, sci-fi, graphic novels, film, and of course, the "Fortean Times". Fort was first and foremost a writer, and his peculiar brand of agnostic, anti-scientific scepticism remains unique. Told against the backdrop of jazz age New York and Edwardian London, "Charles Fort: The Man who Invented the Supernatural" is about wonder, obsession, and mystery, and an iconoclastic author who has become an unlikely cult hero.
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Publishers Weekly, 2008-03-03 Ben Hecht saw iconoclastic author Fort (1874-1932) as an "inspired clown" who thumbed his nose at science as well as religion, and Fort's imaginative books exerted a strong influence on science fiction, notably novelist Eric Frank Russell. Stage magic historian Steinmeyer (Hiding the Elephant) captures Fort's wry humor, skepticism and wildest notions. Surviving fragments of Fort's unpublished autobiography illuminate his strict Albany, N.Y., childhood. In 1892, Fort became a New York City reporter and editor before his world travels and 1896 marriage. He was befriended by Theodore Dreiser, who shepherded Fort's short stories and first novel into print. Fort also pored through diverse journals to document the paranormal and anomalies rejected by the scientific establishment. Shoe boxes packed with 40,000 slips of paper served as a basis for The Book of the Damned (1919), which saw print because Dreiser threatened to leave his publisher unless the company also published Fort. As more compilations of oddities appeared, Fort developed a cult following, and the so-called Forteans issued journals long after their leader's death. Steinmeyer has emerged from the archives with a wonderful, prismatic portrait of the man who once wrote, "To this day, it has not been decided if I am a humorist or a scientist." 8 pages of b&w photos. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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