Thursday, January 16, 2014

Blavatsky News

*  The Economist of London for January 18, 2014, reviews Wendy Lesser’s new book Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books just published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The reviewer mentions in passing:

James Wood, a British critic, fell in love with Gustave Flaubert’s Emma Bovary…Henry Miller, though born to Lutheran parents in New York, had a liking for Plutarch, Petronius, Marcel Proust and that dotty Russian theosophist, Madame Blavatsky, the original New Ager. How do people know this? Because both authors came clean about their literary passions. Writers are made by their reading, which is why it is such fun to peer at their bookshelves and inspect the dog-eared pages, the turned-down corners.

*  The London Spectator of January 18, 2014, in its review of Helen Trinca's biography of the Australian writer Madeleine St John (1941-2006) published last year, draws our attention to the following: 

It took her a long time to become a published writer, and she only started writing fiction after spending almost ten years in the 1970s and 1980s  struggling with a biography (unpublished) of Madame Blavatsky.

It would have been an interesting combination. Helen Trinca writes that someone who saw the manuscript recalled that it was “a critical look at Blavatsky.…Little was known of Blavatsky’s childhood, and Madeleine had opted to write a ‘creative’ version of her early years. She had written a ‘tremendously sensitive picture of what it was like to emerge as a little girl in such a world, at such a time’. But merging that story with factual narrative was difficult, and Madeline had not managed to tie the threads of the book together.”

Apparently, the book had failed to excite a publisher and the author eventually destroyed the manuscript, but it spurred her to become the literary sensation that she was.

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