Sunday, May 26, 2013

Blavatsky and Albert Einstein

Jason Colavito’s “Gary Lachman, Albert Einstein, and the Rehabilitation of Helena Blavatsky” critiques a piece in the June 2013 Fortean Times by Gary Lachman on H.P. Blavatsky. He looks especially at the connection between Blavatsky and Einstein:

According to S. L. Cranston’s 1993 biography of Blavatsky, Einstein’s niece visited Theosophy headquarters in India and told Eunice Layton, a theosophical lecturer, that she had to see the place because although she knew nothing of theosophy she was driven to India by the sheer power of the book kept on her uncle’s desk. If that doesn’t sound like a myth, I don’t know what does. We can pretty much be sure it’s a myth because Einstein had no niece. His only sister had no children. Cranston’s sources were a 1974 article by theosophist Iverson Harris and a 1983 Ojai Valley News article by “Jack Brown,” a man who does not otherwise have any record of involvement with Einstein and whose article contains unproved assertions, including the claim that the otherwise unknown “Howard Rothman” was one of Einstein’s closest friends.

Somehow this original story that Einstein read Blavatsky in 1935 transformed into the modern story that he referred continuously to the book and left it open on his desk at his death.  Colavito traces its oldest reference to Boris de Zirkoff, editor of her writings.

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