“All the goodness, the humour, the tenderness, the imagination, the intellect, the brilliance, the love and laughter that were Grant Allen are now a little dust.”1 With these sad words Richard Le Gallienne, the most steadfast of his disciples, wrote finis to his friend’s vivid existence. To die in one’s years of productive maturity is always a cruel fate, but it was especially so for Grant Alen. He died just when the Western world was on the threshold of fascinating novelties. His reaction to the Great War and Russian revolution, to Modernism generally, to Postimpressionism, to Surrealism, to Freud and to early twentieth-century technology, especially the new technologies of entertainment, would have been very well worth having. It is curious to consider that, had he lived to no very exceptional age, we might have had his response to reading Ulysses. And what would he have made of post-Mendelian genetics, or the new physics? At the time of his death, his cosmic progressivism, qualified though it always was, was starting to look quaint. Einstein’s paper on special relativity would be published in a few years’ time, and by then Max Planck had already devised the foundations of quantum mechanics, despite once admitting that he found his own conclusions almost too peculiar to be credible. Such men had started to put the mystery back into science. The mathematical physics of the twentieth century would prove far more challenging to the imagination than Allen’s cut-and-dried atomic materialism.
KeywordsMoral Courage Russian Revolution Atomic Materialism Freelance Writer Newspaper Journalism
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