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Upward, Allen

Entry updated 16 January 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1863-1926) UK politician, barrister, poet and author, an advocate from early manhood of various nationalist movements, including Irish Home Rule and Greek independence; his poetry, of erratic quality but adventurous, was variously assembled, and some poems were published in Des Imagistes: an Anthology (anth 1914 chap) edited by Ezra Pound (1885-1972). Three articles with the overtitle "The Order of the Seraphim" (1910 The New Age) advocated – in terms of his understanding of the concept of the Übermensch in the works of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) – the founding of an ethical elite of Supermen; in this he was possibly influenced by similar formulations on the part of H G Wells in A Modern Utopia (1905), and by arguments put forth variously by George Bernard Shaw (see Evolution), whose gaining of the Nobel Prize in 1926 was rumoured to have inspired his Suicide (but this was probably a canard voiced by Pound). Shaw's ambivalent hold over Upward is articulated most clearly in Paradise Found: Or, the Superman Found Out: a Joke at Everybody's Expense in Three Acts (1914 [technically unpublished]; 1915 [published form]) as by Saint George, a Sleeper Awakes play set two centuries hence featuring Shaw himself, awoken from slumber and finding the new world, a Utopia constructed on Shavian lines, to be intolerable. Upward's own ambition about receiving the Nobel Prize seems to have inspired him to publish publicly – a form of the text was apparently in private circulation as early as 1901 – The New Word: An Open Letter Addressed to the Swedish Academy in Stockholm on the Meaning of the Word Idealist (1908), in which he coined the term "scientology" to describe blind adherence to "scientific" doctrine.

Some of Upward's early fiction, like The Prince of Balkistan (1895), is light-heartedly Ruritanian. His later novels are grimmer in complexion. The Near Future Romance of Politics sequence – comprising Romance of Politics: High Treason (1903 chap) and Romance of Politics: The Fourth Conquest of England: a Sequel to "Treason" (1904 chap) – depicts the dire consequences of a Roman Catholic takeover of Britain, including a new Inquisition and the exile of the monarchy to Australia. The Yellow Hand (1904) is a supernatural tale featuring out-of-body villainy. Of strongest sf interest is The Discovery of the Dead (1910), an sf novel told in the form of reportage which itself encloses a scientific memoir describing a German Scientist's Invention of "necrolite", which opens new areas of the spectrum, making the dead – "necromorphs" – visible; Edgar Allan Poe is interviewed. Allergic to the visible spectrum, a great Lost Race of necromorphs lives in a great City at the North Pole; they themselves are haunted by "dynamorphs" from deep Underground, and long to radiate heavenwards, like seraphim. [JC]

George Allen Upward

born Worcester, Worcestershire: 1863

died Wimborne, Dorset: 12 November 1926



Romance of Politics

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