This book caused a storm in theosophical circles: how dare they publish letters that many serious theosophists thought were NOT written by H.P. Blavatsky? Well they – the vice president of the Theosophical Society, his wife and an editorial committee – actually thought the reader should decide for themselves whether those letters were by Blavatsky or not.
I do think that’s a grand gesture for any religious organisation to make. To publish a book that gives opponents ready made fuel for detraction.
But then the Theosophical Society has a motto that makes this move highly understandable:
There is no religion higher than truth
I guess they really felt that the truth was more important than the risk of finding out Blavatsky swore more than we’d like :).
A Fascinating Read
This book is a fascinating read for anyone interested in the person of H.P. Blavatsky. She was unique – and so was her correspondence.
Many a controversy was fought out in those days at the end of the 19th century that still has consequences for spirituality today.
There is unique historical information in this book about the woman who started the Theosophical Movement. She is said to be the founder of New Age – and the years covered in this book are formative for the Theosophical Society and her work.
The letters of H.P. Blavatsky – an introduction
Perhaps I started this lens out wrong. There WAS a storm, but it was only about two or three letters.
Most of the letters contained in this book were actually written by H.P. Blavatsky to various people interested in her work. Each was judged important enough to save and perhaps copy – thus saving them for prosperity.
Imagine if all your e-mails got scrutinized a century after you wrote them… Like that thought? I don’t think you would.
But paper does have this advantage: it gets thrown out. The simple thank you notes, the let’s not forget to do that letters mostly didn’t survive and did not make it into this book.
What did make it are letters that chronicle the starting years of the Theosophical Society – and a few from Blavatsky’s life before she became a public person.
Great introduction material
This book isn’t just a collection of letters. It also contains introduction essays that help you understand the early history of the Theosophical Society. These are well written.
As suggested at the start of this review – perhaps a few controversial letters should have had MORE of an introduction, but on the whole this book is very well done.
All in all there is unique historical information in this book about the woman who started the Theosophical Movement. She is said to be the founder of New Age – and the years covered in this book are formative for the Theosophical Society and her work.
It’s a must read for anyone interested in the early history of the Theosophical Society or Blavatsky’s life.
- Edited by John Algeo with the help of Adele S. Algeo, Daniel H. Caldwell, Dara Eklund, Robert Ellwood, Joy Mills and Nicholas Weeks.
- Series: Letters of H.P. Blavatsky (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 656 pages
- Publisher: Quest Books; 1 edition (January 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0835608360
- ISBN-13: 978-0835608367
- Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 6.3 x 9.1 inches
[This review was written in 2008]