Bertrand Russell the Passionate Skeptic: A Biography

By Alan Wood | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
'China is Delightful'

WHEN he was in prison, Russell had thought of going back and giving unofficial lectures in Cambridge after the war. He said that 'I want still to teach and have to do with young men, but not ever again to be officially part of a University--I foresee a rather delightful career as a freelance philosopher like Abelard': and he talked of advertising a course of metaphysics 'intelligible to all except those who have studied philosophy'. At the end of 1919, however, he accepted an offer for reinstatement at Trinity. He applied for a year's leave of absence, having been asked to lecture at the Peking Government University. Then he resigned from Trinity again, as he did not want a fresh controversy over his forthcoming divorce from his first wife. He thought this would confuse the issue for those who had championed him when he was dismissed in 1916, and who had secured the invitation for him to return.

During these years Russell had two particular friends among women: and Clifford Allen once had the task, when staying with Russell and others on a farm, of seeing that one of them went off on a train before the imminent arrival of the other. One of these friends was Dora Black, who was to become Russell's second wife. She was a girl of considerable ability, vigour and vitality, and with views which in those days were strikingly unconventional. There was one occasion when Russell, hearing her steps coming up the stairs outside, turned to a companion and said 'Don't leave me alone with her'. But Dora went with Russell to see Wittgenstein at the Hague in 1919, and went to China with him in 1920.

The result of Russell's visit to the Far East was The Problem of China, as shrewd in its observation and analysis as The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism

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