The White Dominican

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The White Dominican by Gustav Meyrink.

Gustav Meyrink The White Dominican

Meyrink begins this 1921 novel by making some startling claims for the reality of its clearly mythic protagonist Christopher Dovecote. The tale alternates among biographical narrative, visionary episodes, and didactic explication of the latter. It offers little in the way of resolution, but rather ends with the intensification of and insistence on its central enigmas.

There’s no physical adventure: everything (material) takes place in a small Bavarian town. A form of occultism is taken as the necessary complement of Christian religion, with allusive Freemasonry as the most exoteric reflection of the occult, and a nebulous (Taoist? the jacket copy thinks so) form of Asian adeptship as its origin. The account reviles Spiritualism as a deception by malign powers, and Charismatic Catholicism as no better.

Science fiction author John Clute introduces the Daedalus/Ariadne Press edition, with some fascinating information about Meyrink, and the situation of The White Dominican in the author’s total oeuvre. Clute does provide some “spoilers,” and can be skipped at the first pass by those who fear such things. He also spends a little too much attention on the fact that Meyrink’s tale doesn’t fit neatly into Clute’s ethics of gender.

This brief novel is sure to be savored by serious occultists in general. The fact that it was not available in English until 1994 may account for its not being as well-known among contemporary magicians as it deserves to be. As a Thelemite, I found it intriguing with respect to possible interpretations of Liber Legis I:30 and II:44. [via]