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The Answer. A Philosophical Essay . . . Third Edition--Revised
Pyrmont [Sydney]:: Printed for the Publisher and Author by A. J. Tomalin, General Printer, 97-99 Pyrmont-street,, 1912.. Stated third edition, though the tangled publication history of Chidley's pamphlet makes priority unclear (see below).. Edges of the boards somewhat rubbed; some spotting and wear to the red cloth spine; some light foxing and browning; a very good copy.. 8vo, original printed red wrappers wire-stitched into a contemporary binding of red quarter cloth and marbled boards, 64 pages. Folding frontispiece (in black and white), illus. The printed red wrappers include the statement "For Circulation Among Adults Only. It is strange we have not thought before that our ugly and violent coition is unnatural. The crowbar has no place in physiology, its place is in physics." A fairly early example of this uncommon, curious and celebrated (or perhaps notorious) pamphlet of sexual reform, written and distributed by the eccentric Australian W. J. Chidley (1860?-1916) whose career as a public crank was fairly launched with the 1911 Melbourne publication of The Answer (with a second Melbourne edition appearing in 1912). As the Australian Dictionary of Biography article on Chidley recounts, he "sold copies to curious passers-by on the footpath. Soon in trouble with the police, he moved on to Sydney. Tall and suntanned, with 'black curly hair going grey', beard and moustache, he wore only a short white tunic, with bare head, arms, legs and feet—he made an immediate sensation. Twice charged with offensive behaviour, he was deemed insane by the Lunacy Court on 3 August 1912 and sent to the Callan Park Mental Hospital. His case was debated in the Legislative Assembly and his defenders raised fundamental questions about the misuse of power to certify. Released conditionally on 1 October, he quickly broke undertakings to dress in men's ordinary costume, and to refrain from addressing meetings in public places and from selling his book in the streets." What troubled authorities about Chidley's message was not so much his message of reform (the vegetarian diet and short tunics were eccentric of course but not criminal) as they were troubled by his claims that coitus as widely practiced was leading to race suicide: "The erection of male organ and forcible entrance is unnatural. The female womb and vagina when active and erect, with the sphincter closed, has the power of sucking the *unerect* penis in, there manipulating it naturally to erection and emission, which is a passing phase normally. This is the simple secret that solves all our troubles." This copy has the violet ink ownership stamp of Jas. R. Scott, Cessnock, 23 Nov. 1912 on both the blank verso of the frontispiece and to the title page (with a faint ghost of Scott's signature dated 22/11/12 on the front wrapper), this suggesting publication (or at least sale) of this copy subsequent to Chidley's release from Callan Park. (Scott was in his own way possessed of certain rough-hewn eccentricities, placing a loaded pistol on the table in front of him as he chaired a meeting in 1925 while serving as president of the Cessnock Shire Council as he asked who wished to second a motion challenging one of his policies; he was forced from office by a mob within three month of taking assuming his seat as Council president.) In any event, Chidley was harassed by authorities, though he doggedly republished The Answer between frequent stints in institutions, until he died in 1916. The bibliographical history of this pamphlet is tangled at best, and several states or issues of the so-called third edition exist; Australian bookseller Richard Neylon graciously allowed this cataloguer to examine his correspondence with compatriot bookseller and Chidley expert Jonathan Wantrup on the very question of the publication history of this so-called third edition--Wantrup argues that his copy of the Sydney third edition, a 66-page version with a color frontispiece, likely has priority, while this 64-page version (which in turn has some distinct if minor variations from the 64-page "third edition" at the National Library of Australia, viz. an entire line moved to another page) with its black and white frontispiece likely follows; later Sydney editions were printed by S. J. Smith and by S. D. Townsend. Wantrup and Neylon both argue convincingly that Tomalin may have left the type standing and run up copies for Chidley as the author had the opportunity and resources to do so; the differences in the frontispiece they suggest might be explained by Chidley having brought a supply of the color frontispieces with him from Melbourne and supplying them to Tomalin until his stock was exhausted and he had the image reprinted in a format better suited to the diminished resources of a persecuted author. This copy includes a few small autograph corrections in the text. Chidley is noted in passing in McCoy's free speech bibliography (though The Answer is not listed) while Schroeder's 1922 free speech bibliography (p. 198) notes, "First edition ordered burnt. Revised edition resulted in several more arrests and a temporary incarceration in lunatic asylum.
      [Bookseller: Garrett Scott, Bookseller (ABAA)]
Last Found On: 2014-12-15           Check availability:      Biblio    

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