1.03.2011

Bilphism- The Beautiful and Damned

Early on in reading The Beautiful and Damned, I came across the term Bilphist.
"Her name's Gloria.  Shes from home-Kansas City.  Her mother is a practising Bilphist, and her father's quite dull but a perfect gentleman."

And being the conscientious reader that I am, when I come across a word or phrase I am unfamiliar with, I head over to my handy-dandy computer and Google it.

Surprisingly, there is not much on Bilphism,  or maybe not surprising considering Fitzgerald made it up.  I am not sure I know why he made it up yet, maybe it becomes clearer as I read on.  Below is what I unearthed.  Now I should make note, I did not spend hours and hours doing research.  Nope, just a few minutes, maybe 10 at most.  If I find out more I will add that.

Bilphism (noun) source : The name used and coined by F. Scott Fitzgerald in his 1922 novel The Beautiful and the Damned, referring to a religious belief concerned with the reincarnation of the human soul.
" 'Oh, yes, but you see Bilphism isn’t a religion. It’s the science of all religions.' " —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned, 1922 

"Shakespeare was a Bilphist," she assured him through a fixed smile.
"Oh, yes! He was a Bilphist. It's been proved."
At this Dick would look a bit blank.
"If you've read 'Hamlet' you can't help but see."
"Well, he--he lived in a more credulous age--a more religious age."
But she demanded the whole loaf:
"Oh, yes, but you see Bilphism isn't a religion. It's the science of all religions." She smiled defiantly at him. This was the _bon mot_ of her
belief...
Taken from text of The Beautiful and Damned

6 comments:

  1. thanks so much for research...holidaying in Munich and having read B and D experienced same puzzle...now happily resolved so can go out into sunshine.....
    Julie

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  2. Thanks for providing the info - now I'm left wondering which fashionable pseudo-religion Fitzgerald was really mocking?

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  3. Here is what I turned up:

    In 1922 Fitzgerald explained to Dr. Frank H. Vizetelly, editor of Funk and Wagnell’s Standard Dictionary: “Bilphism is a coinage of my own. It is a euphemism for Theosophy---- I wanted to take a crack at theosophy without hurting the feelings of a relative of mine. Several people have inquired about it. So I guess it will enter no dictionary.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald Collection Notes, No. 1, September 1995).

    Thanks for the blog! I am a recent Fitzgerald reader and am enjoying his works!

    Cheers,
    Mark

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  4. You are most welcome Laurie. What an odd term - I just had to look it up.

    So far, I have read Gatsby and have just finished The Beautiful and Damned. These are haunting works that will stick with me. I am looking forward to reading EVERYTHING.

    Being a Literature fan, is there anything else can you would recommend from this period?

    Thanks again for this fantastic blog!

    Cheers,
    Mark

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  5. Another interesting read, with the same clear style and interesting male lead would be Mikhail Lermontov's "A Hero of Our Time". It's a little older, but in my opinion, it belongs very near beside The Great Gatsby.

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  6. Thank you for your research! I am currently reading The Beautiful and Damned. At times the words or just his style of writing in general can be difficult to understand. I will be referring to your blog often while reading his books from now on!

    ReplyDelete

Please remember that I am not a Fitzgerald expert. My posts are my point of view at a specific moment in time, I may get things wrong. Kind words and discussions are always welcomed. If I have made a mistake, politely let me know. I would like to keep Fitzgerald musings a positive experience. Comment Away.....

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