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  • 15


     
    Julius Evola on Tradition and the Right
    Reviews; Posted on: 2009-07-16 12:55:32 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Men Among the Ruins:
    Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist
    by Julius Evola
    Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2002


    E. Christian Kopff

    Baron Julius Evola (1899-1974) was an important Italian intellectual, although he despised the term. As poet and painter, he was the major Italian representative of Dadaism (1916-1922). Later he became the leading Italian exponent of the intellectually rigorous esotericism of René Guénon (1886-1951). He enjoyed an international reputation as the author of books on magic, alchemy and eastern religious traditions and won the respect of such important scholars as Mircea Eliade and Giuseppe Tucci. His book on early Buddhism, The Doctrine of Awakening, which was translated in 1951, established his reputation among English-speaking esotericists. In 1983, Inner Traditions International, directed by Ehud Sperling, published Evola’s 1958 book, The Metaphysics of Sex, which it reprinted as Eros and the Mysteries of Love in 1992, the same year it published his 1949 book on Tantra, The Yoga of Power.

    The marketing appeal of the topic of sex is obvious. Both books, however, are serious studies, not sex manuals. Since then Inner Traditions has reprinted The Doctrine of Awakening and published many of Evola’s esoteric books, including studies of alchemy and magic, and what Evola himself considered his most important exposition of his beliefs, Revolt Against the Modern World.

    In Europe Evola is known not only as an esotericist, but also as a brilliant and incisive right-wing thinker. During the 1980s most of his books, New Age and political, were translated into French under the aegis of Alain de Benoist, the leader of the French Nouvelle Droite. Books and articles by Evola have been translated into German and published in every decade since the 1930s.

    Discussion of Evola’s politics reached North America slowly. In the 1980s political scientists Thomas Sheehan, Franco Ferraresi, and Richard Drake wrote about him unsympathetically, blaming him for Neo-Fascist terrorism. In 1990 the esoteric journal, Gnosis, devoted part of an issue to Evola. Robin Waterfield, a classicist and author of a book on René Guénon, contributed a thoughtful appreciation of his work on the basis of French translations. Italian esotericist Elémire Zolla discussed Evola’s development accurately but ungenerously. The essay by Gnosis editor Jay Kinney was driven by an almost hysterical fear of the word “Fascist.” He did not appear to have read Evola’s books in any language, called the 1983 edition of The Metaphysics of Sex Evola’s “only book translated into English” and concluded “Evola’s esotericism appears to be well outside of the main currents of Western tradition. It remains to be seen whether his Hermetic virtues can be disentangled from his political sins. Meanwhile, he serves as a persuasive argument for the separation of esoteric ‘Church and State.’”

    With the publication of Men Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist, English speakers can read Evola’s political views for themselves. They will find that the text, in Guido Stucco’s workman-like translation, edited by Michael Moynihan, is guarded by a double firewall. Joscelyn Godwin’s “Foreword” answers Jay Kinney’s hysterical diatribe of 1990. Godwin defends publishing Evola’s political writings by an appeal to “academic freedom,” which works “with the tools of rationality and scholarship, unsullied by emotionality or subjective references” and favors making all of Evola’s works available because “it would be academically dishonest to suppress anything.” Godwin’s high praise for The Doctrine of Awakening implicitly condemns Kinney’s ignorance. Evola’s books on esoteric topics reveal “one of the keenest minds in the field . . . The challenge to esotericists is that when Evola came down to earth, he was so ‘incorrect’ – by the received standards of our society. He was no fool; and he cannot possibly have been right . . . so what is one to make of it?”

    Godwin’s “Preface” is followed by an introduction of more than 100 pages by Austrian esotericist H. T. Hansen on “Julius Evola’s Political Endeavors,” translated from the 1991 German version of Men Among the Ruins, with additional notes and corrections (called “Preface to the American Edition”). Hansen’s introduction to Revolt Against the Modern World is, with Robin Waterfield’s Gnosis essay, the best short introduction to Evola in English. His longer essay is essential for serious students, and Inner Traditions deserves warm thanks for publishing it. The major book on Evola is Christophe Boutin, Politique et Tradition: Julius Evola dans le siècle (1898-1974).

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    News Source: The Occidental Quarterly Online

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