Bibliobilia, or Literary Lagan, Part II
Special Mail Course in Suggestion, by Herbert A. Parkyn. A relatively early American work on hypnosis, issued as a series of 30 pamphlets 1898, published by the Chicago School of Psychology. Laid in is a typed, signed letter, evidently sent with the book, from C.A. George Newmann, a.k.a. “Newmann the Great,” a mentalist who traveled the magic circuit in the first half of the 20th century. On stage, Newmann combined hypnotism with mind-reading effects. He was also one of the century’s foremost collectors of magic-related books.
Even in a private letter to a friend, Newmann’s language is that of the professional showman: the rhythmic flourish, the breathless hyperbole. Newmann praises the work—a bunch of mail-order pamphlets for a correspondence course, mind you—as “the finest, most rational and sensible work on the subject ever published,” and as “the ne plus ultra of practical works.” Besides other fulsome and unreserved endorsements (“Dr. Parkyn is 100% correct”), the letter describes the book as “exceedingly rare.” But in there amidst all the overkill is some genuine, measured wisdom:
Even the better class of so-called scientific works on the subject are filled with bunk, unconsciously perhaps, but bunk nevertheless, and it is hard for the conscientious student to separate the wheat from the chaff.
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