The author was a priest in the Catholic Church and subsequently left it as he slowly lost faith in its teachings. He then began a life-long literary career until his death in 1955. He translated over 200 books and some 300 titles under Haldeman-Julius Publications and became know as the "world's greatest scholar. Quoted from the author's "Preface."
"THIS book is a frank criticism of most of the dominant ideas and institutions of our time: a
confession of faith in nearly all the more daring heresies which hold, so to say, the firing line of our literature: a conception of a new social order and new planetary arrangement. It is therefore candidly egoistic, and I should like to explain the circumstances in which it was designed and written. It was conceived, and much of it was written, during the long voyage from Australia to England. At that time I had issued, if I may include the introduction to English readers of foreign writers, some fifty publications, and in these I had generally described remote periods of history, or even remoter periods of the earth's story or distant regions of the universe. Many had asked me to tell them things more intimate and important than the way in which stars were formed, or the manners of extinct Dinosaurs and ancient empresses: asked if thirty years' study of philosophy, science, and history had given me no interest in, or light upon, the problems of the hour. In Australasia this request was made more insistently than ever. Our ancient prejudices have been transplanted into the soil of the new world, and they have thriven there, like the gorse, the sparrow, the rabbit, and so many other pests which sentimental colonists have introduced in order to remind them of "home." But new ideas also have been imported, and they find a rich soil in the free, unconventional, enterprising colonial mind. Men and women are asking the same questions there as in London and New York.
The general drift or implication of these questions obsessed me daily during the slow traverse of the Southern Ocean. Day after day the great liner visibly rounded this vast ball of metal which we call our earth; and to me there is no more impressive symbol than this of the power and the future of man. Some complain that at sea they feel the earth and man and man's concerns made trivial by the great fires which blaze through the darker sky. But largeness is not greatness, and a vast prairie in some inaccessible region does not make less precious the little plot of earth at your door that you can make beautiful. Your predominant feeling, when you round the globe and see with your own eye its limitations, is one of power. This
sphere, you feel, is the principality of man; and there never was a power so despotic and far-reaching as the power of a united race would be. You feel as if the earth could be embraced in the arms of a giant, and humanity is the giant. If men were agreed in their designs, the earth would be as clay in the hand of the potter. It would prove as passive and tractable as the child's ball of plasticine — if all, or the great part of, men and women were agreed as to the shape it was desirable to impose on it. In our age differences of ideal restrain the hand and prevent us from giving a fairer face to the earth. The power of a united mankind would be
something akin to omnipotence. Every man or woman who has seen the earth with this larger vision must seethe with impatience to end this conflict of old traditions and new ideas which
paralyses our hands; to do what he or she can to accelerate that final harmony of conviction which will set free the fingers of the Great Potter. That is the controlling sentiment of this little book."