* Patrick Brantlinger’s Taming Cannibals: Race and the Victorians (Cornell University Press, October 13, 2011) looks at a number of Victorian writers who used occult motifs in their writing. “[Rider] Haggard did not become a convert to Madame Blavatsky’s new religion, but he was intrigued by Theosophy, as he was by other late Victorian manifestations of interest in the occult.”
* Michael Broyles’ Beethoven in America (Indiana University Press, October 27, 2011) contains a surprising amount of references to Blavatsky and Theosophy. “By far the most important religious movement in regard to both Beethoven and its impact on the arts was Theosophy, which originated in the nineteenth century and which found a sympathetic audience with artists and intellectuals in the United States after World War I.” Four pages follow giving background on Blavatsky and developments in the Theosophical Society. Naming composers like Henry Cowell, Edgard Varèse, Carl Ruggles, Aaron Copland, Dane Rudhyar, and Ruth Crawford Seeger, Broyles says “many were drawn to seeking some sort of spiritual dimension in their lives. More than any other movement or religion, Theosophy filled that purpose.”
What did these musicians find in Theosophy that drew them to the movement? For the most part it was the Olcott, not the Blavatsky wing, that appealed to them.…The scientific bent of Theosophy, which Olcott stressed, and the interest in world religions, particularly those of Asia, which was at the heart of both Olcott’s and Blavatsky’s views, appealed immensely to these composers.
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