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Wes on "Only the Originals" of HPB's Writings

Apr 30, 2003 01:25 PM
by Daniel H. Caldwell

Dear Wes,

Thank you for your email concerning the Theosophy Company and related 

First of all, my comments in my earlier posting were primarily 
directed to addressing the misleading statements made by Dallas.

Secondly, I clearly value many of the publications of the Theosophy 
Company. I recommend on my website the following TC publications:

The Theosophy Company is to be commended for producing photographic 
facsimiles of many of HPB's original works. Plus when THEOSOPHY 
magazine was founded in 1912, this forum provided serious Blavatsky 
students with reprints of HPB's articles which had become hard to 
find unless one had access to old issues of THE THEOSOPHIST, LUCIFER, 

Let me clearly state my view about HPB's books and articles. 

I have tried to study Blavatsky's writings and the teachings of 
Theosophy without undue regard for any of the existing Theosophical 
organizations including the ULT. I have read and used the 
publications of all the existings Theosophical groups and have tried 
to find books and articles that are helpful in understanding 
Blavatsky regardless of what organization or publisher issued the 

But when I study HPB's writings I prefer to read her original 
writings as they were published during her lifetime.

The main reason for this is that after HPB's death, various persons 
(Judge, Besant, Mead, de Zirkoff, etc.) have edited her writings 
making various changes, deletions and additions. Some of the changes 
have been minor and trivial. But some of the changes have been major 
and some of these changes and "corrections" have actually been wrong. 
Furthermore, the changes are usually NOT noted therefore the reader 
of these new editions has no EASY way to know what has been changed.

Wes, I ask you:

Which would you honestly prefer: (1) a photographic facsimile of one 
of HPB's originals writings as it was published during her lifetime 
or (2) a later edition of her book where her text has been edited, 
either by deletions, changes or additions? 

For example, take ISIS UNVEILED, I prefer to use the photographic 
facsimile of the original edition reprinted by the Theosophy Company. 

By saying that,I don't mean that the editions currently published 
by Theosophical University Press or Theosophical Publishing 
House are worthless. I ALSO use those editions for various purposes 
but I prefer using the photographic facsimile of the original for my 
primary study of that text.

The same applies to THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE. I prefer to
use as my primary source the photographic facsimile of
the VOICE published by Kessinger. The other editions of the
VOICE published by Theosophy Company, Theosophical Publishing
House and Theosophical University Press also have value but they
are not photographic facsimiles of the original 1889 edition.

I could go down the whole list of HPB's works.

So Wes, what edition (original OR later edited) would you choose of 
the 2 above titles for your personal study?

More in a second posting.


Daniel H. Caldwell

--- In, "Wes Amerman" <amerman@s...> wrote:
> Dear Daniel,
> In response to some comments made by Dallas TenBroeck on this list 
(and elsewhere), you have raised the issue of the publication by The 
Theosophy Company of the original works of H. P. Blavatsky. Please 
allow me to attempt to set the record straight about our publication 
> First of all, we consider the works of H. P. Blavatsky and those of 
William Q. Judge to be essentially consistent with each other, and of 
considerable value to the world. We therefore make available the 
works of both authors. 
> Second, it is a fact that they wrote on different continents 
throughout most of their writing careers, and sometimes reprinted 
material in their own publications that the other first wrote 
elsewhere. They also reprinted their own writings when the 
opportunity presented itself, making the question of "original 
publication" sometimes confusing.
> For example, when Judge reprinted "The Voice of the Silence" in New 
York in 1893, he did some minor editing and rearranged the footnotes 
to appear on the text pages instead of at the back of the book. So, 
when The Theosophy
> Company went to re-publish the Voice, there were two editions to 
choose from: Blavatsky's and Judge's. Which one should we have 
published? HPB's "original" text, or Judge's edition which was a 
bit easier to use? The Theosophy Company editors apparently decided 
to use Judge's, relying on his known skill as an editor. Should the 
book contain a note explaining how that edition had come into being 
and had been chosen? Yes, probably, and when we eventually reprint 
it, we can address that issue. However, the way your statements are 
phrased makes it appear that The Theosophy Company
> edited "The Voice of the Silence" without telling anyone! That is 
not the case and I am surprised that you would imply that we had done 
> The situation with "A Modern Panarion" is similar. The book was 
published in London, England in 1895 by the Theosophical Publishing 
Society, which in some cases edited Blavatsky's original articles. 
Again, we have a dilemma: which edition of the articles should The 
Theosophy Company have printed? The original book, "The Modern 
Panarion," already contained changes from the first-published 
articles. Should we have gone back and corrected each article to the 
original? Perhaps, but then we would have changed the book! The TPS 
was originally responsible for the changes; is it fair to cry "foul" 
because the Theosophy Company editors either did not know or allowed 
that fact to pass without comment?
> Finally, despite the impression possibly left by the enthusiastic 
comments of individuals from time to time, we do not claim to be 
infallible in our work. We can and do make mistakes, and will be 
glad to correct any that are brought to our attention and to publicly 
acknowledge such whenever necessary.
> The two cases you have mentioned, Daniel, hardly seem to be worthy 
of taking to task The Theosophy Company for violating its declared 
principles. Let us hope that these few words finally put your 
charges to rest.
> Sincerely and Fraternally,
> Wesley Amerman
> President
> The Theosophy Company
> Los Angeles, California USA
> (213) 748-7244
> > Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2003 15:53:56 -0000
> > From: "Daniel H. Caldwell" <inquire@b...>
> > Subject: Dallas on "ONLY the originals"of HPB's writings
> >
> > Dallas, I am always amazed when you write such statements as in 
> > following example:
> >
> > "As far as I can see, that's why the U L T insists on using and
> > providing for study, only the ORIGINALS -- I see too many
> > interpretive changes in Theosophical texts altered by those who 
> > later claimed that they can correct errors made in 
those 'originals.'
> > Who dares to say that they can do better than H P B and the 
> > who certified ( PATH Vol. 8, p. 1-3 ) to have co-edited the text 
> > The SECRET DOCTRINE?" Quoted from:
> >
> >
> > Unfortunately, Dallas, this statement of yours is simply NOT 
> > and you of all people should know it.
> >
> > You write that the "ULT insists on using and providing for study,
> > ONLY the ORIGINALS. . . " I put in caps the word "only".
> >
> > This is simply not true. The ULT publishes and sells two works by
> > honestly described as ORIGINALS. As I have documented before in
> > great detail, both of these works do NOT conform to HPB's 
> > The texts have been altered.
> >
> > The ULT's VOICE OF THE SILENCE is a very GOOD EXAMPLE of (to use 
> > own words)"Theosophical texts altered by those who have
> > later claimed that they can correct errors made in 
those 'originals.'"
> >
> > The editor of this edition of the VOICE claimed that he
> > could "correct errors" made in the original. And in fact, made
> > corrections and didn't inform the reader that "corrections" were 
> >
> > When you ask:
> >
> > "Who dares to say that they can do better than H P B and the
> > Masters. . .?"
> >
> > one might point to the ULT's VOICE and MODERN PANARION and answer:
> >
> > Apparently the "editors" of those two works DARED to say that they
> > could do better than HPB and the Masters.
> >
> > In summary, your statement quoted at the beginning of this 
posting is
> > very misleading especially to newcomers and inquirers on this 
> >
> > Daniel H. Caldwell
> >

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