Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who was Mme. Blavatsky?

The painter Wassily Kandinsky says:

Mme. Blavatsky was the first person, after a life of many years in India, to see a connection between these “savages” and our “civilization.” From that moment there began a tremendous spiritual movement which today includes a large number of people and has even assumed a material form in the Theosophical Society. This society consists of groups who seek to approach the problem of the spirit by way of inner knowledge.  

From Kandinsky’s 1911 Concerning the Spiritual in Art, English translation by Michael Sadler, London, 1914.  Sadler was an early collector of Kandinsky’s paintings and traveled to Munich in 1913 to meet the artist. Compared to later translations, e.g., the 1946 translation published by the Solomon R.  Guggenheim Foundation in New York, Sadler’s version holds up pretty well (this 1946 edition refers to “Mrs.” Blavatsky!). Sadler (1888-1957), who changed the spelling of his name to Sadleir, was also a great authority on Victorian fiction and the author of, among other things, “Dublin University Magazine; its History, Contents and Bibliography,” Dublin 1938.

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