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Letter from Har Dayal to Van Wyck Brooks (April 8, 1934)

Letter from Har Dayal to Van Wyck Brooks, dated April 8, 1934, and sent from Edgware, England. In the letter, Dayal mentions that he knows Larkin and Margaret Peters, presumably mentioned in Brooks' letter to him. He also mentions various book projects that he has worked on or was currently working on: a book on Buddhist philosophy, on Self Culture, and on the Wisdom of Hellas, on the New Gospel of Jesus (a corrective to Renan's "Life of Jesus.") Dayal weighs in on the current political order, looking forward to a "new Socialist order of international politics, which must succeed this rotten system of nationalism and capitalism." Dayal writes about the intellectual world in London, and also writes specifically about F. Adler's "Ethical Societies" organization.

Freedom Movement

Date: April 8, 1934
Type: Correspondence
Language: English
Creator: Har Dayal
Location: 34 Churchill Road, Edgware, United Kingdom

I am in France for a short time, but shall soon return to England 34 Churchill Road Edgware (Middx.) England 8th April, 34 My dear Brooks, It is such a great pleasure that my letter reached you. I am very pleased to learn that Charles is already a graduate. If he visits England, he can stay with me, if he likes. I have a small place in the suburbs of London. But I lead a very simple life, and he may not like that. If he comes to London, I shall be so pleased to see him and also welcome him as a guest, if he wishes to stay with me. You don't tell me the name of your other son who is at Harvard. And have you a daughter? I am very happy to learn that you are happy in your quiet & fruitful literary labours, the last of which must now absorb all your time & energy. That History of American literature must become a monumental work! Yes, I remember Larkin & Margaret Peters very well. I often wonder what Margaret is doing. She has not written anything. Do you know her present address? As you perhaps known, I have had a veritable odyssey of politics (was in Germany during the War, working ?? England; then ?? to Sweden & discontinued anti-British politics; etc). I used my leisure in London to write a book on Buddhist philosophy, for which I got my Ph.D. in 1931. I am sending you a copy. Now I have finished this new book on Self Culture, which contains my philosophical and ethical propaganda (including economics & politics). It aims at preaching the ideal of Freethought in a constructive fashion. The spiritual vacuum, in which most modern "advanced" people pass their lives, must be filled in. Something must take the place of the orthodox Christianity, which is more moribund for so many educated people & also for the intelligent workingmen. I shall welcome for your criticism & suggestions. I am working for a revival of Hellenism too. I have learned some Greek & read all Plato, Aristotle, etc. in English translation. I intent to put the best teachings of the Greek philosophers in one volume of extracts & call it "The Wisdom of Hellas." Just now, I am working on a smaller book that should come first & will be published next winter, viz. "The New Gospel of Jesus." I am now quite dissatisfied with Renan's "Life of Jesus." So I am trying to present Christianity & its history in a modern form for the benefit of modern Rationalists & Ethicists. Of course, I reject the dogmas, miracles, etc., & take only the ethics & the historical contributions to civilization. I hope to finish this "New Gospel" by the end of the summer. I am not very much troubled or depressed by the world situation, as I look beyond it, as St. Augustine described the City of God, when the old Empire was falling in ruins about him. I look forward to a new Socialist order of international politics, which must succeed this rotten system of nationalism + capitalism, which may be patched up for a time in Europe & U.S.A., but must ultimately break down through war and famine. Are you following the march of events in Russia, though I do not agree with all the theories of those people & do not approve of all their policies. But there's something new over there. Don't you think so? In London, we have many societies & movements of all sorts. Recently, an "H.G. Wells" society has been started in ?? to work along the lines suggested in some of Wells's books. Bertrand Russell's books are eagerly read, but he does not lecture personally. He conducts his modern school with success at some distance from London. The old Positivist Church in London has closed down after seventy years of work. That was a sad end. THe Buddhists have two societies, & some monks have come over from Ceylon. Are you in touch with the "Ethical Societies" in U.S.A., founded by Dr. F. Adler? There is one in New York & also in Boston. They are doing some good, I think. I have taken up Science in order to round out my education & joined elementary classes in Botany, Zoology & Physics. After my literary & historical societies, this was very interesting, even fascinating. I shall continue with it. Please remember me to Mrs. Brooks & tell her that I have not forgotten her very kind hospitality to me at Palo Alto. Perhaps I shall cross over to U.S.A. again some day & see you & all friends. With kindest regards, Yours sincerely, Har Dayal

Holding Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Collection: Van Wyck Brooks Papers
Item History: 2011-11-27 (created); 2020-04-24 (modified)

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