Sunday, December 27, 2020

New book on French Traditionalist networks

The doyen of French Guénonian studies, Jean-Pierre Laurant, has just published a new book, Guénon au combat: Des réseaux en mal d'institutions (Guénon at war: Networks without Institutions; Paris: L’Harmattan, 2019).

The networks in question are mostly French, notably those built around the correspondence and relations between three long-term followers of René Guénon, the bookseller and publisher Pierre Pulby (1910-1993), the physician Pierre Winter (1891-1950), and the Germanist and translator of Heidegger André Préau (1893-1976). Winter established two Traditionalist groups that are not discussed in my Against the Modern World, a Groupe d’études métaphysiques (Metaphysical Studies Group) that was active between 1936 and 1940 and then, after the Second World war, a group of Hindu and Orthodox orientation that Laurant calls the Winter Group, which survived for some years after Winter’s death, until 1957.

The book also discusses the Union intellectuelle pour l'entente entre les peoples (Intellectual union for understanding between peoples), led according to Laurent by Guénon and a Dutch friend, Frans Vreede (1887-1975). In fact, it is not clear that Guénon was really that influential, as the objectives of the Union were defined by others, and most members of its board had no connection with Guénon. It is notable, howeer, that one member of the “advisory committee” was Louis Massignon (1883-1962), now the best-known French scholar of Islam from the period.

Laurant also discusses two networks outside France, that in Italy around Arturo Reghini (1878-1946), recently the subject of a PhD thesis by Christian Giudice (see post here) and that in Germany around Leopold Ziegler (1881-1958) (see post here), whose main contact in France was Préau. 

The book closes with a series of short but useful biographical notes on each of the major figures discussed in the book. 

Guénon au combat is an important addition to our knowledge of the early Traditionalist milieu, especially in France.

No comments: