BF. William Empson

  ‘Very much better than Christianity’, but to be ‘applied cautiously, like the new wonder-drugs’.  

16. ‘Mr Empson and the Fire Sermon’. Essays in Criticism 6 (October 1956): 481-82.

Empson notes that he ‘came to admire Buddhism’ during his years in the East, and thinks it ‘very much better than Christianity because it managed to get away from the neolithic craving to gloat over human sacrifice’, but ‘even so’, he believes, ‘it should be applied cautiously, like the new wonder-drugs’. Haffenden (29) quotes an undated and unpublished version of this piece at King’s College Library, Cambridge (see 22), in which Empson writes that his nose had been ‘rubbed very firmly in the Buddha’ during his years in Japan and China. For notes about Empson’s engagement with Buddhism, see also 6 and 21b2-5.






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