William Gerhardie himself described Resurrection as 'an autobiographical novel recording a true experience out of the body, followed that night by a London ball at which, against a background of social comedy, the theme is taken up and developed into a passionate argument for the immortality of the soul, illustrated by the spontaneous recollection of a year rich in travel and having the power to evoke a vanished lifetime in a day.'
Some consider this to be Gerhardie's masterpiece. Hugh Kingsmill said 'Tristram Shandy is accepted as a permanent masterpiece, and Resurrection is worth ten of it'. Edwin Muir considered the book 'easily the best' of Gerhardie's work 'and also, I think, one of the most remarkable that have appeared in our time. Michael Holroyd has the same high opinion of it as did Philip Toynbee who wrote, 'an astonishing Proustian masterpiece ... which embraces more of Gerhardie, more of his attitudes, personality and literary achievement than any other'.
William Alexander Gerhardie was born in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1895. As a young man he went to London and, when the First World War broke out, joined the army. He was first sent to Russia and later travelled the world before beginning to write. Futility (1922), his first novel, was sponsored by Katherine Mansfield, and other notable works of his include The Polyglots (1925) and Of Mortal Love (1936). Gerhardie's writing was acclaimed as an influence on many of his peers, including Anthony Powell, H. G. Wells, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene and Olivia Manning. He died in London in 1977.