The Martyrdom of Man (Paperback)

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The Martyrdom of Man was a history of the world from an entirely new viewpoint, and was a prominent freethinking text of the late Nineteenth century. It is not an exaggeration to say that it provided a view of History as revolutionary as Darwin's view of Science - an entirely new and non-religious way of looking at the subject. It was very popular and influential on publication in the 1870's and long after - Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells and George Orwell were all heavily influenced William Winwood Reade (1838 - 1875) was a British historian, explorer, and philosopher. His major work, The Martyrdom of Man (1872), is a secular history of the Western world. According to one historian, the book became a kind of "substitute bible for secularists" In it, Reade attempts to trace the development of Western civilization in terms analogous to those used in the natural sciences. He uses it to advance his philosophy, which was political liberalism. The final section of the book provoked enormous controversy due to Reade's "outspoken attack on Christian dogma" and the book was condemned by several magazines. In 1872 the then Prime minister, William Gladstone denounced The Martyrdom of Man as one of several "irreligious works" (the others included work by Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer and David Friedrich Strauss). Reade was an atheist (although this has been disputed by a surviving family member) and a social Darwinist who believed in survival of the fittest and wanted to create a new civilization: "While war, slavery and religion had once been necessary, Reade argued, they would not always be so;in the future only science could guarantee human progress". Cecil Rhodes, an English-born South Africa politician and businessman, said that the book "made me what I am". Other admirers of The Martyrdom of Man included H.G. Wells, Winston Churchill, Harry Johnston, George Orwell, Susan Isaacs, and Michael Foot. The title of the book is well known to many who have not read it: in Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of the Four, Sherlock Holmes says to Dr. Watson: "Let me recommend this book, - one of the most remarkable ever penned." V.S. Pritchett lauded The Martyrdom of Man as "the one, the outstanding, dramatic, imaginative historical picture of life, to be inspired by Victorian science". Since The Martyrdom of Man had, (by Victorian standards) a relatively sympathetic account of African history, it was approvingly cited by W.E.B. Du Bois in his books The Negro (1915) and The World and Africa (1947). Reade's other secularist work, "The Outcast", is a short novel about a young man who must deal with being rejected by his religious father and the death of his wife. (
Product Details
ISBN: 9781604446074
ISBN-10: 1604446072
Publication Date: December 3rd, 2011
Pages: 284
Language: English