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Tillett and MacDonald on the Cranston biography of Blavatsky

Apr 27, 2006 11:23 AM
by danielhcaldwell

Before I quote what I am going to quote below, I would like
to point out that Gregory Tillett has written an excellent
biography of C.W. Leadbeater.  I believe Carlos Aveline
has praised this work and I wonder what Bruce MacDonald thinks
of Tillett's biography.  I view the work as both scholarly
and readable and fair and balanced.

Yet there are students of Leadbeater who believe the
Tillett work is unfair, very one-sided, negative and even
hostile toward portraying the "true Leadbeater."

My point is that if one views Tillett's biography as fair
and balanced, one would assume Tillett has a pretty good
grasp of what makes for a fair and balanced biography.

Now let me therefore quote first what Tillett said on Theos-Talk
last month about the Cranston biography:

I think that a serious, scholarly biography of Blavatsky (and I 
don't think Meade accomplished that, but she's worthy of a Nobel 
Prize compared with the shoddy hagiography produced by Cranston) or 
an equally scholarly study of her foundation of the Theosophical 
Society (and I don't think Johnson accomplished that, but compared 
to his in-house competitors his name must be engraved on an Oscar) 
would make for absolutely remarkable reading. She was a woman of such
brilliance  and such eccentricity  that she is worthy of something 
of equivalent brilliance and imagination. I only wish I was capable 
of writing it!

Notice what Tillett writes about Cranston's biography:

"the shoddy hagiography"

Now compare all of the above with what Bruce MacDonald wrote just
yesterday on Theos-Talk:

Cranston's biography expressed both respect and
gratitude.  However, other than this idealized life that Cranston
presents, HPB's life is not really up for debate by theosophists.  
That is not to say that the idealized version is not pretty 
accurate, just that barring further facts there is little more to be 
said.  Cranston does put forward arguments that can openly be 
debated, but the general facts concerning HPB's life are what they 

Actually I have heard some Leadbeater supporters in fact say that is 
why they are so against the Tillett biography of Leadbeater.  The 
biography does NOT express both respect and gratitude for 
Leadbeater, does not present "the idealized version" of Leadbeater.

I suspect that if Tillett did do a biography of Blavatsky that 
Aveline and MacDonald would be as upset with it as many Leadbeater 
students are upset with Tillett's THE ELDER BROTHER.

If that were their reactions, one might wonder why?  If the 
Leadbeater biography by Tillett is so wonderful, what's wrong with 
the Blavatsky biography that Tillett might produce?

I realize that this is hypothetical but one can start by asking why 
MacDonald thinks so highly of the Cranston biography and why Tillett 
calls the Cranston biography "the shoddy hagiography."



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