Seasons of Freethought: Introduction



Seasons of Freethought is a special project I’ve been working on for some time. It collects the Freethought publications of G.W. Foote and puts them back into print in one affordable collection. But instead of just writing another sales pitch, I thought I’d share with you the new Introduction to this collected volume by yours truly.


INTRODUCTION

TRISTAN VICK

Sentenced and confined to a year in prison for the victimless crime of blasphemy, George William Foote did not let this little setback dissuade him from speaking out against the cruelties and absurdities of religion. In fact, having a year of his life taken away for the “offense” of blaspheming against the Christian God only made him more entrenched in his cause to dole out just criticism of religious injustice  hypocrisy, and cruelty all the while fighting for the noble causes of the freedom of speech, and of freedom of thought and expression.

Publisher of the skeptical and freethought magazine the Freethinker, begun in 1881 and which is still published to this day,[1]Foote himself would later republish his favorite speeches, lectures, letters,and essays in several works. Of his numerous book publications, the ones which stand out the most are his Freethought series, which include Arrows of Freethought and Flowers of Freethought in two volumes.

I have decided to reproduce all three of Foote’s famous, or rather infamous, Freethought publications here in one collected volume under the fitting title: Seasons of Freethought. Furthermore, I have selected these works not only because they seemed to be of sentimental value to Foote himself, but also because of the extremely beneficial wealth of insights into literature, religion, and human nature that only an intellectual like G.W. Foote could have provided.

Foote was a man devoted to fighting superstition wherever it reared its ugly head and, to his credit, never shied away from doling out asarcastic quip in the name of Freethought. G.W. Foote did as much to spread the values of Freethought as Thomas Paine, Robert G. Ingersoll, and d’Holbach, and he should not be quickly forgotten for his lofty contributions to the Freethought movement. In addition to running the Freethinker, Foote would go on to succeed Bradlaugh as President of the National Secular Society, a position he’d maintain for twenty-five years. G.W. Foote lived from 1850 to 1915.

In reproducing G.W. Foote’s Freethought publications I have taken some minor liberties. The main reasons for the changes are simply for reading convenience and economy. As an Englishman, many of Foote’s spellings retain the British spellings (e.g., colour instead of color and centre instead of center, etc.), which I have Americanized wherever possible, except in the cases of direct quotes from English poetry and prose.

In addition to using the standardized American English forms, I have also elected to use the more modern spellings, punctuation,contractions, and conjugations as outlined in the Oxford English Corpus. As such,the old spelling forms using un- prefixes have been changed to the modern spellings using im- prefixes where applicable, so that unplausible becomes implausible and so on and so forth.

As for contractions, wherever there are two separate words for the same single word form, such as every one, forever,and can not, I have chosen to use the contracted single word forms of everyone,forever, and cannot.

Finally, I have omitted the duplicate chapters “Who are the Blasphemers?” and “The Gospel of Freethought” from Flowers of Freethought series one and two, which are also found in the first book Arrows of Freethought. Any other changes you may find are purely cosmetic, which is to say, for aesthetic and stylistic purposes only and do not alter the content or meaning in any considerable way.

Beyond these rather mundane technical enhancements, I have tried to stay as true to the source material as possible while updating it for a modern readership. Most assuredly, I am pleased to present a new generation of Freethinkers, Skeptics, and Atheists with an accessible and affordable collection of works by one of the greatest defenders of Freethoughtand free speech who ever lived.
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