Letter from René Guénon

With René Guénon (1886-1951), Evola, to quote him, ‘always had cordial personal relations and a correspondence that continued almost until the eve of his death’, of which he recalled various excerpts in an article, ‘La mia corrispondenza con Guénon’, published in Arthos, the Evolian review edited by Renato del Ponte. The latter also edited Lettere a Julius Evola (1930-1950) from René Guénon (SeaR Edizioni, Borzano, 1996), which contained eleven letters; later on, he was to come into possession of the five last letters that were missing for this correspondence to be complete. The first four letters concern particularly the revision of the proofs of the first edition of Rivolta Contro il Mondo Moderno, while the fifth, which is presented here, relates in particular to the translation that Evola made of La Crise du Monde Moderne in 1937 for the publisher Hoepli from Milan. ‘This is an opportunity’, Renato del Ponte says, ‘to show the perfect harmony between Evola and Guénon about this translation, which, however, is considered “not very faithful” by the ultra-orthodox Guénonians, who, in fact, reject it in favour of an alternative version: fanaticism can go that far . . .’

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Dear Sir,

I have just received your letter of the 1st of June; I did not realise that you had already left Rome at that point. I am glad to hear that your clarifications on Crisi seem to have aroused some interest (1). As to the objections that have been brought up, it is true that I will have to explain these points in a more comprehensive way when the opportunity arises. That it is very difficult to explain what concerns the cyclic laws has to be acknowledged.

To be precise, the truth is that things that seem to be opposed are simply placed at different levels: from a higher point of view, there is no ‘indetermination’ at all, but this does not prevent human responsibility from existing on a level of its own, and human action is efficacious because, like everything else, it is part of the total ‘plan’; basically, the appearance of contradiction that some people may imagine that they find in it mostly comes, as in many other cases, from a confusion between temporal and supra-temporal planes.

As for the second point, one could speak of a ‘retreat’ of the spiritual force, required according to the cyclic laws, and that does not have in any way to me even the exterior appearance of a ‘defeat’; otherwise, many things would be inexplicable, and the case of traditions that deliberately terminated their own transmission is very significant in this respect.

Finally, with regard to the legitimation of an elite which might come into existence outside Catholicism, it is currently very difficult to be precise, but a consecration coming from elsewhere, through relations established with the representatives of other traditions, would obviously be needed . . .

From what I have learned from Rocco, it seems that L’Uomo e il suo Divenire should be ready for publication on the 15th of June; thank you for proposing that I should write an article dedicated to him (2). I am glad that P. Colla has renounced the project of translating L’Introduction (3), I hope that we will be able to reach an agreement with Laterza; it seems to me that the other volume should be successful, because the set price is low enough not to frighten any reader.

As I told you in my previous letter, I finally received from Hoepli a parcel with a few articles, and I have just received another one today, which also contains a certain number of things of which I was already aware. There is a most grotesque attack in a paper whose title is unfortunately missing; you may be able to identify it, for it is signed Sabino Allogio; on the other hand, he very carefully avoids mentioning you by name.

They criticize me for being favourably disposed towards Catholicism but a critique along exactly opposite lines is found in Frontespezio (in the April issue); in passing, I wanted to ask you what kind of paper the latter is, since I have seen various references to it lately; isn’t it the organ of a more or less ‘mystic’ group? What rather intrigues me is the sinister-looking painting placed without explanations at the top of the article on Crisi; what can this mean? [Note from the publisher: Guénon, who was buried in Cairo according to a Muslim rite, may have suddenly turned his face from the East to the North-West in the direction of Paris, when, a few years after his death, Gallimard started to republish his books with drawings by Giordano Bruno on the cover . . .]

Thank you for having written to R. Spann (4) ; I was just about to give his address to Priau, who ‘centralises’ everything that is related to the problem of the translations in German and has already told Otto about them; it is to be hoped that, in one way or another, they will be able to get in touch with each other and to agree on these matters.

As for your two books (5), waiting for better days, I promise to mention them in Les Editions Traditionnelles of next June, for, otherwise, it would be impossible until October, which would really be too late. I will try to write to you again soon to speak of the Grail; be sure that I have not forgotten about it and that my being late is only due to a lack of time. The parcel with the issues of Regime Fascista from the 20th to the 26th of May seems to have got lost in transit. Unfortunately, the May page (6) is most likely to have been in one of these issues, for I do not see it . . .

Kind regards,

René Guénon

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(1) La Crisi del Mondo Moderno by René Guénon was published in Italian in 1937 by Ulrico Hoepli, a publisher in Milan. The translation and the introduction were by Evola, who also replied to some unfriendly reviews of it. The clarification to which Guénon refers in this letter could be related to the letter sent by Evola to Il Meridiano di Roma, II, 4 (24 January 1937), p. X.

(2) The book, translated by Corrado Rocco and published by Laterza, was reviewed by Evola in the Corriere Padano of the 10 February 1938 as ‘Il Dono del Lingue’ (‘The Gift of Languages’) (now included in Un Maestro dei Tempi Moderni: René Guénon, Fondazione Julius Evola, Roma, 1984, pp. 17-20).

(3) Pierro Colla, friend and collaborator of Evola (mostly at the Diorama Filosofico), did translate L’Introduction Générale à l’Etude des Doctrines Hindoues (General Introduction to the Study of Hindu Doctrines), but, after his death (which may have occurred during the war, certainly before 1947), this translation got lost, as we learn from another letter from Guénon dated the 30th of December 1947, now published in René Guénon: Lettere a Julius Evola (1930-1950), Borzano, 1996, p. 40.

(4) This is Rafael Spann, son of the more famous Othmar Spann (1878-1950), the economist who invented the ‘Organic State’. It seems that Rafael Spann, together with Evola (who was often in Vienna) and others formed a mysterious Chronidenbund or ‘Bond of the Chronides’.

(5) This is about the reviews by Guénon of Evola’s books The Mystery of the Grail and The Myth of Blood, published in 1937 in Les Etudes Traditionnelles, but not reproduced (for reasons of Guénonian ‘supra-orthodoxy’) in Compte-Rendus (Gallimard, Paris, 1973). They can now be read in Italian translation in Futuro Presente, n.6 Spring 1995, p.113.

(6) This is a reference to the Diorama Filosofico special page, which appeared at least monthly or sometimes more often, included in the daily paper Regime Fascista, edited by Evola and with which Guénon himself collaborated. In fact, the issue of the Diorama Filosofico of May 1937 was not published between the 20th and the 26th, but on the 30th.

 

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