Thursday, October 28, 2010

A.E.S. Smythe

The Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d'études canadiennes, Volume 44, Number 1, Winter 2010, contains a long overdue recognition of A.E.S. Smythe’s position in Canadian intellectual and spiritual life. The paper, "A Pilgrim Forever: The Life and Thought of Albert Smythe,” takes as its subject the life and ideas of social reformer, journalist, and occultist Albert E.S. Smythe. Placing him within the milieu of turn-of-the-century Toronto, the essay examines the evolution of his ideas on social reform, just war, and pacifism. Smythe's work is also situated within the larger sweep of Canadian social amelioration and occult movements.

While the overall focus of the paper is Smythe’s political thought, enough material is given to convey his importance to theosophy in America. Smythe (1861-1947) met another Irishman, W.Q. Judge, on his voyage to America in 1884 and that led to a lifelong commitment to theosophy. Smythe was instrumental in the formation of the Canadian Section of the Theosophical Society in 1919, becoming its General Secretary, and editor of The Canadian Theosophist, until 1947. Under his editorship the magazine became a primary source for material on H.P. Blavatsky and her work, often contributed to by many of her former students.

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