The Preface to "Pantopia"

This is the text of the Preface to Pantopia by Frank Harris, in which he bizarrely admits that his book has been made somewhat less interesting by his removal of all the dirty bits. (My thanks are extended to Edgar M. Ross for his permission to reproduce this copyright material. Scanned for your delight as part of the Frank Harris Preface Project).

I have been asked to write an introduction to Pantopia and I do so the more willingly because the book is of novel interest for me. When I first took the story into primary consideration I meant to end it with the love-story, told very freely, of the heroine of the book. I did the woman's confession in three or four letters to her husband, and I was very proud of it, though my friends told me I could never get it published as it would surely be censored. However I did not then know how mighty the censor was in England and America and so I paid little attention to the warnings.

I had other books written that I wanted to sell first and so I kept Pantopia by me for some time.

I had read D. H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers and thought the book very good, indeed it made me believe that he would someday write a masterpiece. Suddenly I received his book Lady Chatterly's [sic] Lover. The selection of the gardener for the hero rather shocked me. Common men cannot as a rule make an art of love, and I thought the selection of the lover unfortunate, but I soon found that Lawrence had made Lady Chatterley a real personality and had displayed her passion very wonderfully. In fact Lawrence had done in his books what I wanted to do and had tried to do in Pantopia. If I published Pantopia at once I would be thought to have imitated him. The resemblance was astonishing, whole pages were almost exactly alike. I cut out the greater part of my heroine's confession and now leave the book to the judgement of my readers, only admitting that I excised some of the very pages that made the book valuable to me.

I meant the title of the book to tell realy everything about it. I intended to say that the "ideal was everywhere" - Pantopia - and always possible, so I put all my deepest thoughts about religion into it and tried to say something new about it. I told of the Sacred City as it appeared to me to stand for the spirit of true religion and I added a chapter on The Forgotten Dead which seemed to me the essence of true piety. In fact I made this book the vehicle for all my most cherished ideas on life, death and the Hereafter, and I wished to end it by the chapter on women's love which I regard as deeper than that of men. But there it appeared I came into conflict with English and American prudery, and laid myself open to bitter criticism and even confiscation.

However, the book is there to speak for itself and my readers will forgive me for saying that I tried to make the book the best I have ever done and I still regard it, in some respects, as my best.

 

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