Olaf Stapledon


Olaf Stapledon
Olaf Stapledon
Born May 10, 1886(1886-05-10)
Died September 6, 1950(1950-09-06) (aged 64)
Occupation Novelist, philosopher
Genres Science fiction, philosophy
Notable work(s) Star Maker, Last and First Men, Odd John



Signature

William Olaf Stapledon (May 10, 1886 – September 6, 1950) was a British philosopher and author of several influential works of science fiction.

Contents

Life

Stapledon was born in Seacombe, Wallasey, on the Wirral Peninsula near Liverpool, the only son of William Clibbert Stapledon and Emmeline Miller.[1] The first six years of his life were spent with his parents at Port Said. He was educated at Abbotsholme School and Balliol College, Oxford, where he acquired a BA in Modern History in 1909 and a MA in 1913.[1] After a brief stint as a teacher at Manchester Grammar School he worked in shipping offices in Liverpool and Port Said from 1910 to 1913.

During World War I he served as a conscientious objector with the Friends' Ambulance Unit in France and Belgium from July 1915 to January 1919. On 16 July 1919 he married Agnes Zena Miller (1894–1984), an Australian cousin. They had first met in 1903, and later maintained a correspondence throughout the war. They had a daughter, Mary Sydney Stapledon (1920-), and a son, John David Stapledon (1923-). In 1920 they moved to West Kirby.

Stapledon was awarded a PhD in philosophy from the University of Liverpool in 1925 and used his thesis as the basis for his first published prose book, A Modern Theory of Ethics (1929). However, he soon turned to fiction in the hope of presenting his ideas to a wider public. The relative success of Last and First Men (1930) prompted him to become a full-time writer. He wrote a sequel and followed it up with many more books of both fiction and philosophy.[3]

In 1940 the family built and moved into Simon's Field, in Caldy, in the Wirral. After 1945 Stapledon travelled widely on lecture tours, visiting the Netherlands, Sweden and France, and in 1948 he spoke at the World Congress of Intellectuals for Peace in Wrocław, Poland. He attended the Conference for World Peace held in New York in 1949, the only Briton to be granted a visa to do so. In 1950 he became involved with the anti-apartheid movement. After a week of lectures in Paris, he cancelled a projected trip to Yugoslavia and returned to his home in Caldy, where he died very suddenly of a heart attack.

Stapledon was cremated at Landican Crematorium, and then his widow and their children scattered his ashes on the sandy cliffs overlooking the Dee Estuary, a favourite spot of his that features in more than one of his books.

Works

Stapledon's writings directly influenced Arthur C. Clarke, Brian Aldiss, Stanisław Lem, C. S. Lewis and John Maynard Smith and indirectly influenced many others, contributing many ideas to the world of science fiction. The "supermind" composed of many individual consciousnesses forms a recurring theme in his work. Star Maker contains the first known description of what are now called Dyson spheres. Freeman Dyson credits the novel with giving him the idea, even stating in an interview that "Stapledon sphere" would be a more appropriate name.[4] Last and First Men features early descriptions of genetic engineering and terraforming. Sirius describes a dog whose intelligence is increased to the level of a human being's.

Stapledon's fiction often presents the strivings of some intelligence that is beaten down by an indifferent universe and its inhabitants who, through no fault of their own, fail to comprehend its lofty yearnings. It is filled with protagonists who are tormented by the conflict between their "higher" and "lower" impulses.

Last and First Men, a "future history" of 18 successive species of humanity, and Star Maker, an outline history of the Universe, were highly acclaimed by figures as diverse as Jorge Luis Borges, J. B. Priestley, Bertrand Russell, Hugh Walpole, Arnold Bennett, Virginia Woolf (Stapledon maintained a long correspondence with Woolf) and Winston Churchill.[2] In contrast, Stapledon's philosophy repelled C. S. Lewis, whose Cosmic Trilogy was written partly in response to what Lewis saw as amorality, although Lewis admired Stapledon's inventiveness and described him as "a corking good writer". In fact Stapledon was an agnostic who was hostile to religious institutions, but not to religious yearnings, a fact that set him at odds with H. G. Wells in their correspondence.

None of Stapledon's novels or short stories has been adapted for film or television, although George Pal bought the rights to Odd John. Castle of Frankenstein magazine reported in 1966 that David McCallum would play the title role.[5]

Together with his philosophy lectureship at the University of Liverpool, which now houses the Olaf Stapledon archive, Stapledon lectured in English literature, industrial history and psychology. He wrote many non-fiction books on political and ethical subjects, in which he advocated the growth of "spiritual values", which he defined as those values expressive of a yearning for greater awareness of the self in a larger context ("personality-in-community").

In nations with "life + 70 years" copyright regimes, Stapledon's published works will be in the public domain from 2020.

Bibliography

Fiction

Non-fiction

  • A Modern Theory of Ethics: A study of the Relations of Ethics and Psychology (1929)
  • Waking World (1934)
  • Saints and Revolutionaries (1939)
  • New Hope for Britain (1939)
  • Philosophy and Living, 2 volumes (1939)
  • Beyond the "Isms" (1942)
  • Seven Pillars of Peace (1944)
  • Youth and Tomorrow (1946)
  • The Opening of the Eyes (ed. Agnes Z. Stapledon, 1954)

Poetry

  • Latter-Day Psalms (1914)

Collections

References

  1. ^ a b c Kinnaird, John. Olaf Stapledon. Borgo Press, 1986. ISBN 9780916732554
  2. ^ a b Benford,Gregory, "Foreword" in Last and First Men. London, Millenium, 1999. ISBN 185798806X p. ix-xi .
  3. ^ "Olaf Stapledon". J. L. Campbell, Sr., in E. F. Bleiler, ed. Science Fiction Writers. New York: Scribners, 1982. pp. 91-100. ISBN 9780684167404
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "Article: "The Man from M.O.N.S.T.E.R." Castle of Frankenstein, volume 2, #4 (1966)". David McCallum Fans Online. http://www.davidmccallumfansonline.com/monster.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Olaf Stapledon — Nacimiento 10 de mayo de 1886 Wallasey, Inglaterra Defunción 6 de septiembre de 1950 (64 años) Caldy, Inglaterra Ocupación Novelista …   Wikipedia Español

  • Olaf Stapledon — William Olaf Stapledon (* 10. Mai 1886 in Wallasey (heute Merseyside), Grafschaft Cheshire (in der Nähe von Liverpool), England; † 6. September 1950 in Caldy) war ein englischer Schriftsteller, der als Science Fiction Autor bekannt wurde.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Olaf Stapledon — William Olaf Stapledon (né le 10 mai 1886 près de Liverpool, décédé le 6 septembre 1950), est un philosophe anglais et un auteur de romans de science fiction visionnaire ayant esquissé nombre des thèmes classiques explorés par …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Olaf Stapeldon — Olaf Stapledon Cet article fait partie de la série Science fiction La SF à l’écran autre A B C …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Stapledon — Olaf Stapledon Cet article fait partie de la série Science fiction La SF à l’écran autre A B C …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Olaf — ist ein nordischer männlicher Vorname. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Herkunft und Bedeutung 2 Namenstag 3 Nebenformen 4 Bekannte Namensträger …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Olaf Stapleton — William Olaf Stapledon (* 10. Mai 1886 in Wallasey (heute Merseyside), Grafschaft Cheshire (in der Nähe von Liverpool), England; † 6. September 1950) war ein englischer Schriftsteller, der als Science Fiction Autor bekannt wurde.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Stapledon — William Olaf Stapledon (* 10. Mai 1886 in Wallasey (heute Merseyside), Grafschaft Cheshire (in der Nähe von Liverpool), England; † 6. September 1950) war ein englischer Schriftsteller, der als Science Fiction Autor bekannt wurde.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Stapledon —   [ steɪpldən], William Olaf, englischer Schriftsteller, * Wirral (County Cheshire) 10. 5. 1886, ✝ County Cheshire 6. 9. 1950; Studium der Philosophie an der Universität Liverpool, Promotion 1925. Neben philosophischen Abhandlungen (»A modern… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Stapledon, Olaf — ▪ British writer born , May 10, 1886, Wirral Peninsula, near Liverpool, Merseyside, Eng. died Sept. 6, 1950, Cheshire       English novelist and philosopher whose “histories of the future” are a major influence on contemporary science fiction.… …   Universalium


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.