Here is the story of the "silent editing" of my book
Jan 06, 2007 03:26 PM
Below is the story of the "silent editing" of my book if
anyone cares to read it!
Carlos Aveline quotes Ernest Pelletier about my book
THE ESOTERIC WORLD OF MADAME BLAVATSKY <http://esotericworld.net>.
However, there are negative aspects to this book
that need mention. There has been much silent editing
done which renders the contents of this book
impractical to quote from. While eliminating certain
`irrelevant' portions of the text may not necessarily
affect context, it is important to know (and from
what I understand, it is also a legal requirement –
at least in Canada – to indicate) where changes have
been made to the original text. Silent editing
sets a precedent which eventually will erode the
authenticity of the whole theosophical literature.
Knowing this, one wonders why this respected historian
who has promoted and defended HPB would be compelled
to compromise the integrity and accuracy of historical
Unfortunately, at least from this quotation, some readers may think
that this "silent editing" has been done without me
telling the reader.
Yet in my preface (ix) to ESOTERIC WORLD, I told the reader
what I was doing:
The narratives have been transcribed from the original
sources with spelling and punctuation modernized. For
people's names, the spelling used in HPB's Collected
Writings (vols. 1 and 15) has been adopted. Material not
relevant to the immediate narrative has been silently
deleted. The original texts, however, can be found from
the bibliographical references. Explanatory notes added
by the editor are enclosed within square brackets.
Concerning Pelletier's comment that "it is important to know (and from
what I understand, it is also a legal requirement – at least in
Canada – to indicate) where changes have been made to the original
I have never heard of such a requirement. Maybe it works that way in
Canada. I don't know. But I live in the United States and my book
was published in the United States ---- not in Canada.
As regards Pelletier's comment about scholars or authors
who want to quote material.
It is my understanding that real scholars should and would go to the
original source or at least go to an unabridged unedited reprint of
an article or text.
I would hope no reputable scholar would quote excerpts of a primary
source as found in a secondary source.
Furthermore, in my book I was NOT reprinting a collection of ENTIRE
articles by various authors.
Instead I was quoting excerpts, extracts, selections...
FIRST AND FOREMOST in my book I wanted to tell the story of HPB's
life or at least some of the story and I hit upon the idea of giving
readers the opportunity to read some of the original stories,
reminiscences by the actual people who knew her, etc.
At the same time I edited the text so the flow of the story moved,
etc. and the excerpts therefore are put in chonological order.
In the first edition of my book THE OCCULT WORLD OF MADAME
BLAVATSKY, I used the three dots ... to indicate all omissions of
text. Even before this first edition was published some of my
coworkers including my wife who had read drafts of the manuscript
complained about the dots. The complaint was that the dots got in the
way of the story. At that time I ignored this advice about deleting
the dots ... .
When TPH Wheaton wanted to publish a second revised edition with
additional text added, the dot ... problem was brought up again. The
readability issue was discussed back and forth with the publisher and
with some of my friends and coworkers, finally I decided that I would
not use the dots ... for readability.
Was that a mistake? I don't know. But I don't really think so.
Again interested readers, scholars and authors who want to explore
the subject more or who want to quote texts are encouraged to go to
the original sources and on my website I have presented some of these
accounts unabridged and unedited.
My intent again in producing my book was to give readers a "taste" of
all the wonderful narratives telling about HPB's life. And I also
tried to quote very rare and hard to find material. And I tried to do
it in such a way as to create a biographical account from 1831 to
Futhermore, you will find in my book material that has never been
reprinted since it was first published (in some cases more than 100
Some of this material (especially) the rare material has been
published on my website unabridged and unedited.
Strange that it was two Theosophists --- Mr. Pelletier and Mr.
Aveline --- who focused on the silent editing of the text and ignored
the fact, for example, that rare material was reproduced in the book.
And it was left to a non-Theosophist (I suppose he is) to perceive
the TRUE VALUE of the book.
Here is what Dr. W. Michael Ashcraft wrote in his review of my "The
Esoteric World of Madame Blavatsky":
"Despite these [that is certain] criticisms [of the book],
I nonetheless recommend this book as an extremely useful
collection of primary documents about Blavatsky."
"There is nothing else in the literature about Theosophy's
history quite like it."
"The Esoteric World of Madame Blavatsky will undoubtedly
be a standard work in Blavatskian bibliographies for many years
"Not only will it provide the sources that future reseachers
need for their own work on Blavatsky....it will give the general
reader a vivid sense of Blavatsky as others knew and experienced
her....Caldwell helps us to appreciate, then, what this first
generation of Theosophists appreciated: the radical nature of
Blavatsky's affect on those around her...."
Quoted from THEOSOPHICAL HISTORY, July 2002, p. 264
Any reader who will take the time to carefully read and study my book
will find a great deal of information and material that cannot be
easily found anywhere else between the covers of one book....
Blavatsky Study Center
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