The Collected Stories of Bertrand Russell

The Collected Stories of Bertrand Russell

The Collected Stories of Bertrand Russell

The Collected Stories of Bertrand Russell

Excerpt

The life of Bertrand Russell was of legendary proportions. a selfless and compassionate crusader for human liberty, Russell was relentless in pursuit of truth and justice. His energy and concern persisted until his death at the age of 97. Russell’s writings, expressed with masterful clarity of thought and style, include more than sixty books, all but a few of which have been kept in constant demand. His major studies have had a critical impact on diverse fields of learning; his popular writings have influenced the ideas of millions. But for the less formal side of Russell and a fuller appreciation of his more intimate qualities, especially of his sense of fun and his delighted perception of absurdity, we must turn to his autobiographical and purely imaginative writings.

Not the least of his more personal and light-hearted occupations was inventing stories and relating anecdotes. It is the purpose of this volume to present a complete collection of Russell’s stories both published and unpublished, fictional and factual, including transcriptions of his tape-recorded anecdotes told for the amusement of his family and a few privileged friends.

One of Russell’s essential gifts was his ability to express complex ideas with great elegance and simplicity. His facility for lucid prose won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950, although he had not, at that time, published any fictional writings. His first book of fiction appeared in 1953, in the form of five short stories under the title of Satan in the Suburbs. One of the stories, ‘The Corsican Ordeal of Miss X’ had already appeared during December 1951 in go, a London magazine. It was published anonymously and readers were offered a prize for identifying its author. No one succeeded, but as Russell recalls in his Autobiography, ‘one of the characters in the story is General Prz to whose name there is a footnote saying, “pronounced Pish”; and the prize was given to a man who wrote to the magazine: “This is Trz (pronounced Tosh).” the ‘Corsican Ordeal’ was not Russell’s first attempt at writing fiction. Almost half a century earlier, he had written several stories of which only one, a novella, still survives. Entitled the Perplexities of John Forstice’, it is published here for the first time. It was completed in 1912, shortly after the end of Russell’s first marriage and during the early months of his relationship with Lady Ottoline Morrell. in this same period, the publication of Principia Mathematica had brought to a close almost ten years of prodigious effort. Not surprisingly the novella reflects, in the perplexities posed for the main character, Russell’s personal situation at the time.

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