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Cooper, Blavatsky, et al

Jul 04, 2006 11:49 PM
by gregory

I have not had the time to respond to various postings seeking my response,
asking me questions, or accusing me of various university work
tends to take priority.

1. The Cranston "biography" - I haven't re-read it for a long time, but will
happily do so when I have time, and offer comments. My recollection is that one
of my major criticisms was its "sanitised" approach, simply leaving out matters
which did not support the author's view.

2. John Cooper and the "dubious" letters - John's view (and mine) is that no
scholarly editor can simply omit material on the grounds that some people
question its veracity. Obviously, if there is evidence (that is, not simply
opinion) that a document is not genuine, this should be noted and discussed.
One early chapter of John's thesis considers some of the controversial letters
in this way. Again, I have not reread his thesis for a long time and would have
to go back to it to comment further. However, the fact that a document comes
from a dubious source or does not conform to some expectation cannot be grounds
in any scholarly work for omitting it. I am not, as I have written previously,
any sort of authority on Blavatsky, so I do not comment on any particular
letters. But, if someone claims a letter is a "forgery" or has been tampered
with, the proper (scholarly) response is to produce the evidence - not to
attack the editor. To say that "Letter X comes source Y which was written by
person Z therefore it cannot be genuine" is simply irrational nonsense. Z may
be a crook and a liar - who just happens to have a genuine letter (in the same
way that B may be a living saint who has fallen for a fraud). I go back to an
area I am familiar with - given that Leadbeater was a saint and could not lie
and therefore must have been born in 1847, should I have omitted all reference
to the 1854 birth certificate from my biography on the grounds that it cannot
be genuine? Or since all the claims of sexual abuse must have been "lies"
should I have left them out? Historians do not have the luxury of sectarian
writers (like Cranston) who can adjust the data to fit the predetermined

3. Am I a "real historian"? I don't think any answer I can give would be worth
much. I rely on the judgments of unquestionably "real historians" who have
examined my work.

Dr Gregory Tillett


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