Sunday, November 3, 2013

Isis in America

The American publisher Tarcher will be reprinting the first volume of H.S. Olcott’s Old Diary Leaves as part of its intended Tarcher Supernatural Library. Other titles in the series will include Hans Holzer’s Ghost Hunter: The Groundbreaking Classic of Paranormal Investigation and Sax Rohmer’s Romance of Sorcery: The Famous Exploration of the World of the Supernatural. Old Diary Leaves will be retitled Isis in America: The Classic Eyewitness Account of Madame Blavatsky's Journey to America and the Occult Revolution She Ignited.

In Isis in America—one of the most unique documents of recent American spiritual history—we get a closer look at Blavatsky, through the eyes of Theosophical Society cofounder, writer, lawyer, investigator, and Blavatsky confidant Henry Steel Olcott. Olcott spent years by Blavatsky's side, witnessing acts of aura projection and spontaneously produced objects—and undergoing his own spiritual awakening—as they laid the foundations for a new era in esoteric spirituality. But this is just the thing; it is Olcott’s view of events and should be read as such. And an element of the fantastic prevails.

This first volume of Olcott’s Old Diary Leaves (covering the years 1874 to 1878) has become one of the most reprinted documents relating to the history of the early Theosophical Society. Originally serialized in the pages of The Theosophist during the 1890s, it was issued in book form in 1895 by the New York publisher G.P. Putnam after being turned down by the Theosophical Publishing Society of London as being too unflattering a portrait of H. P. Blavatsky. It was reprinted in the 1975 as Inside the Occult: the True Story of Madame H.P. Blavatsky and more recently as part of Cambridge University Press’s Cambridge Library Collection of Spiritualism and Esoteric Knowledge. It remains in print as a paperback from the Theosophical Publishing House at Adyar, and is available as an online book. The Tarcher edition is scheduled for release August 2014.

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