Charles Fort: The Man Who Invented the Supernaturalby Jim Steinmeyer
Here is the seminal biography of one of the most fascinating and polarizing figures in all of Americana: Charles Fort (1874-1932), "the mad genius of the Bronx," "the enfant terrible of science," and/i>/b>
The acclaimed and unforgettable true story of offbeat intellect and pioneering paranormal investigator Charles Fort--in paperback for the first time.
Here is the seminal biography of one of the most fascinating and polarizing figures in all of Americana: Charles Fort (1874-1932), "the mad genius of the Bronx," "the enfant terrible of science," and the groundbreaking visionary who shaped our modern view of the paranormal.
Theodore Dreiser called Fort "the most fascinating literary figure since Poe." H.G. Wells called him "one of the most damnable bores who ever cut scraps from out-of-the-way newspapers." No one was neutral about Charles Fort. Fort was a virtuoso at assembling records of bizarre, haunting, strange, and inexplicable anomalies for which science could not account.
Like no other book, Jim Steinmeyer's brilliant and celebrated biography takes you down the rabbit hole and into the strange life of an outsider genius.
The Washington Post
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 Surviving fragments of Fort's unpublished autobiography illuminate his strict Albany, N.Y., childhood.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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Steinmeyer (The Glorious Deception), a preeminent stage and TV designer of magical illusions, shows himself a gifted biographer with this moving study of a 20th-century original. Decades after his death with a cultish following that began in his lifetime, Charles Fort (1874-1932) remains a thinker whose motivation and compositions (e.g., The Book of the Damned of 1919, still in print) maintain their fascination. Despite his subtitle, Steinmeyer knows that the supernatural as a concept existed before Fort; Fort, in effect, brought it back to earth. Assiduously, he culled from the periodical record countless observed instances of the inexplicable: showers of frogs, a rain of blood in North Africa, a flurry of flakes of beef in 1876 Kentucky. Then he ruminated upon the data-not as proof of miracles but as palpable occurrences disregarded by science. To Fort, these hundreds of phenomena that flew (often literally) in the face of accepted theory demonstrated that science was the blinkered religion. His work attracted the enthusiasm of Theodore Dreiser. Steinmeyer is an elegant and unobtrusive author who shows us an entirely fascinating, shy, and witty man. The unpublished autobiographical fragments that Fort penned about his Albany, NY, childhood, achingly poignant, display, as much as his books, a prose stylist like no other. This book is not to be missed. P.S. Have reprints of Fort's work on hand, too!
"An engrossing biography." --Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
"Perceptive and entertaining." --Ed Park, Los Angeles Times
"Steinmeyer is a gifted biographer, an elegant and unobtrusive author who shows us an entirely fascinating, shy, and witty man, a 20th-century original. This book is not to be missed." --Margaret Heilbrun, Library Journal
"Steinmeyer conjures up his subject's world with wit and empathy, and subtly tracks the events that formed Fort's singular character. The man emerges as eccentric, funny, self-effacing and contradictory. Even the most devoted skeptic will enjoy his company." --Harry Pearson, The Daily Mail
"Fort can easily be lampooned as the man who wrote about rains of frogs, but as Jim Steinmeyer emphasizes in this intriguing biography, he trod a narrow tightrope between belief and skepticism. His life, as graphically portrayed in this book, was often frustrated and unfulfilled. But the legacy he left makes the world a brighter place: paradoxically, both saner and sillier." --David V. Barrett, The Independent
"While American history has relegated Fort to the same curiosity file he so deliberately plumbed, Fort's influence has outstretched his literary contributions. Steinmeyer conjures both the image and mind of Fort in such a way as to mirror Fort's own writings. In doing so, Steinmeyer offers readers a psychological profile of Fort, as well as a glimpse into the culture and history that birthed the supernatural interests of our nation." --Michael Mason, Tulsa World
"Steinmeyer captures Fort's wry humor, skepticism and wildest notions. He has emerged from the archives with a wonderful, prismatic portrait. --Publishers Weekly
"This odd, unique character emerges fully rounded in Jim Steinmeyer's fascinating, sympathetic biography." --Richard Lingeman, author of Theodore Dreiser: An American Journey
"A colorful portrait of an offbeat character." --Kirkus Reviews
"A delightful book." --Robert Ito, Los Angeles Magazine
"A jolly biography." --Damian Thompson, London Telegraph
"Steinmeyer has produced a meticulously researched, marvelously readable window on the life of this extraordinary man. Was he a genius or a crank? Fort's message is that we should not always seek solutions, because there might be none. That is Steinmeyer's verdict on the man himself." --Andrew Crumey, The Scotsman
- Penguin Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 - 13 Years
Meet the Author
JIM STEINMEYER is one of today's most renowned historians of stage magic. His many books include The Last Greatest Magician in the World, Who Was Dracula?, The Glorious Deception, and Hiding the Elephant, a Los Angeles Times bestseller. Steinmeyer is a leading designer of magic illusion who has done work for television, Broadway, and many of the best-known names in modern magic, such as Doug Henning, Siegfried & Roy, and David Copperfield. Steinmeyer has also developed attractions and live shows for the Walt Disney Company, Universal Studios, and DreamWorks, and has twice received fellowships from the Academy of Magical Arts.
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