Category Archives: The Eudaimonia of Joscelyn Godwin

Book Review – The Forbidden Book by Guido Mina di Sospiro and Joscelyn Godwin

Hermetic Library fellow Mark Stavish recently reviewed Joscelyn Godwin, another Hermetic Library fellow, and Guido di Sospiro’s The Forbidden Book, a recently available for the first time in English fiction novel. Both the novel and the review may be of interest. Mark Stavish posted his review to Amazon and also to his email list, but gave me permission to share it with you here:

The Forbidden Book is a wonderful page turner in the style of Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code and The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason, only unlike these bestsellers, di Sospiro and Godwin deliver the goods, not only in story, but for many readers, in esoteric content as well. Opening with a bang, literally, and a large one at that, The Forbidden Book takes its readers into an occult world just below the surface of our own. Occult in both the general and specific meanings of the word in that not only are we introduced to the world of magic and alchemy, and sex magic at that, but also into a world view not generally known, that of Traditionalism. Our unlikely hero Leo Kavenaugh is of course a professor, and an instructor of Italian at that. The damsel in distress and love interest is the lovely Orsina, who was once his teaching assistant and now married to a wealthy industrialist. However, while the plot set-up is predictable, its unfoldment is clean and enticing all the way to the end as the mystery around the forbidden book, The Magical World of the Heroes, written by Cesare Della Riviera in 1605, unfolds and family secrets around forbidden power, incest, hubris and greed embodied in Orsina’s uncle Baron Emanuele are revealed. All of this is against the background of a modern Europe on the brink of civil war as religious tensions break through the veneer of cafe culture, and the politics of identity assert themselves via shade of Colin Wison’s book The Mind Parasites, where mind control is not about controlling all people, but is about controlling the right people.

For our readers, the Della Riviera’s book is a real work, not unlike the Hypnoerotomachia Poliphili which was translated by Joscelyn Godwin (1999), and formed the basis for Caldwell and Thomason’s novel. Many in the English speaking world first became introduced to The Magical World of the Heroes as it was mentioned in Introduction to Magic — Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus, Guido Stucco’s translation of the collected works of the UR Group, an Italian esoteric lodge centered around the teachings of Julius Evola. Evola, a self-styled Baron, advocated a philosophy which believed that the modern world is essentially decadent and that traditional norms, hierarchies, and values are the only means of restoring sanity through political and occult methods.

I found The Forbidden Book a fascinating and a wonderful first novel for this pair of brilliant scholars, showing that deep thinking, scholarly skill, and creativity can go hand-in-hand and create a novel that one can be pleasantly read in an afternoon or two. While I did not particularly enjoy reading The Forbidden Book in its electronic form, Disinformation has been bought by Red Wheel/Weiser and a paperback edition will be released in early 2013.

The Forbidden Book got mentioned over on Boing Boing

The Forbidden Book, a new English language release of a work by Hermetic Library fellow Joscelyn Godwin and Guido Mina di Sospiro, got mentioned over on Boing Boing at “Five novels and their occult inspirations” along with a few others recommended by di Sospiro and Godwin. I mentioned new edition of The Forbidden Book back in April but it’s great to see this kind of coverage for esoteric fiction and fictional esoterica.

“Guido Mina di Sospiro and Joscelyn Godwin, authors of The Forbidden Book, wrote about five novels and their occult inspirations for Boing Boing:

How do you find works of occult fiction that are not just fantasies? We have just published one of them: The Forbidden Book, released as an e-book by The Disinformation Company. It is a murder mystery, a romance, a political conundrum, but above all an account of magick in action. We think of it as belonging to a rare strain of fiction by authors who actually know occult traditions and the philosophies behind them. That way the reader is not just playing “let’s pretend” but learning some insights into reality that are potentially life-changing.”

[via]

 

The first additions to a new section for forewords and other front matter by Joscelyn Godwin

The first additions to a new section for forewords and other front matter by Hermetic Library fellow Joscelyn Godwin have just been added on his pages. We are working together to get many from Joscelyn’s extensive corpus of front materials online. I’m sure you will agree this ongoing project is an exciting development that will offer many interesting and important additions to the library. For now, an initial two are available and, to the best of my knowledge, both of these are now available online for the first time, as will most, if not all, of the future additions. For my part, I’m quite excited to be able to help make this happen and moreover to share these with you all.

The first addition is the préface de Joscelyn Godwin to D.P. Walker. La Magie spirituelle et angélique de Ficin à Campanella. Tr. Marc Roland. Paris: Albin Michel, 1988.

The second addition is the foreword by Joscelyn Godwin to K. Paul Johnson. The Masters Revealed: Madame Blavatsky and the Myth of the Great White Lodge. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.

The Forbidden Book

You may be interested in The Forbidden Book, a new English language release of a work by Hermetic Library guest Joscelyn Godwin and Guido Mina di Sospiro.

“A multi-faceted mystery that incorporates the most serious and sensitive issue of our time: religious extremism. The evocative setting of Venice and the Veneto dominates the action, supplemented by vivid scenes in Santiago de Compostela, Provence, Washington, and the Vatican. Occult beliefs and practices fuel the action as the main characters become embroiled in an aristocratic sex magick plot.

While on one level The Forbidden Book is a murder mystery set against the conflicts of Islam and the West, the book also delves deep into esoteric knowledge and practice, thanks to Guido Mina di Sospiro’s extensive knowledge of Catholicism and Joscelyn Godwin’s authoritative studies of the western esoteric tradition. Underlying the fast paced action, the reader will find a profound treatment of moral and political dilemmas, the conflict of religions, and the frightening possibilities of the occult.”

 

Guido Mina di Sospiro and Joscelyn Godwin's The Forbidden Book

 

Advance Praise for THE FORBIDDEN BOOK

“This is a really excellent book—gripping, thought-provoking, mysterious, deep and resonant with esoteric knowledge. It keeps you turning the pages in a most compelling way. I couldn’t put it down.”
Graham Hancock, author of the international bestsellersThe Sign and the Seal, Fingerprints of the Gods,Heaven’s Mirror.

“In the sure hands of Guido Mina di Sospiro and Joscelyn Godwin, The Forbidden Book is many things at once: murder mystery, meditation on religious extremism, and a complex but invitingly deep introduction into the esoteric. I don’t think I’ve encountered as original a book as this in a long time and I’m confident it will resonate with readers everywhere.”
Mitchell Kaplan, co-founder of Miami Book Fair International, president of Books & Books, 2011 recipient of the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community by the National Book Foundation.

“Watch out Dan Brown and Umberto Eco! Here’s a real esoteric thriller written by some real Illuminati who know the real thing and aren’t afraid to let the secret out. Sex, magic, politics, and mystery. The Forbidden Book is a gripping, exciting, and illuminating read.”
Gary Lachman, author of A Dark Muse: A History of the Occult, Jung The Mystic: The Esoteric Dimensions of Carl Jung’s Life and Teachings, The Quest For Hermes Trismegistus From Ancient Egypt to the Modern World.

“A harrowing tapestry of esoteric mystery, unseen history, and the search for inner knowledge—The Forbidden Book is the thinking-person’s adventure yarn.”
Mitch Horowitz, author of Occult America and editor-in-chief of Tarcher/Penguin.

“Much more than simply a captivating adventure with a generous dose of love, intrigue, sex, and violence, The Forbidden Book provides an introduction to alchemical-magical practices of the late Italian Renaissance, a spiritual tradition that persists surreptitiously to this day. The authors, in possession of a deep understanding of — and sympathy for — esoteric Hermeticism, successfully weave pearls of occult wisdom into the fabric of their book, creating a compelling story-within-the-story that is all the more genuine for being based on an authentic early seventeenth century alchemical text. This is a book rich on many levels, with multiple layers of meaning and interpretation, from the riveting action-packed twenty-first century fictional narrative to deep insights into the ancient and enduring perennial philosophy. Indeed, The Forbidden Book is itself a modern incarnation of the ‘forbidden book’ which forms the central theme of the novel. Read it closely!”
Robert M. Schoch, author of Voyages of the Pyramid Builders, Pyramid Quest, and The Parapsychology Revolution.