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H.P.B. The Extraordinary Life & Influence of Helena Blavatsky Founder of the Modern Theosophical Movement Hardcover – January 6, 1993

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher; First Edition edition (January 6, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874776880
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874776881
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 4.7 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,275,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This overstuffed, sometimes absorbing biography aims to rehabilitate Russian-born Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891), whose studies in religion, philosophy and psychic power were overshadowed in 1885 by her "exposure" as a fraud. Cranston (coauthor of Reincarnation in World Thought ) has gathered an enormous amount of research on Blavatsky's upbringing, background and travels, unskeptically accepting claims of her subject's psychic powers. She also traces the growth of the Theosophical Society, which Blavatsky helped found in 1875 and which not only flourished in the West but also, according to Cranston, spurred the revival of Hinduism and Buddhism in the East. She describes how Blavatsky's writings fueled the anti-vivisection movement, seemed to predict certain scientific discoveries and presaged the revival of beliefs in both reincarnation and the New Age. Though Cranston does not assess Theosophy today, she notes its influence on various writers, artists and composers, including Yeats, T. S. Eliot, Kandinsky, Gauguin and Sibelius. Photos not seen by PW. $50,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Cranston, author of Reincarnation (Crown, 1984), takes the reader through the earthly life of Blavatsky, known as "HPB" to her initiates. We follow her from her girlhood in Russia, where she communed with rocks, mold, and empty space; through her three-month virginal marriage to Nikifor Blavatsky; her world travels; her growing interest in spooks; and her founding of the Theosophical Society in 1875. Cranston suggests that Blavatsky should be credited with starting the New Age. Much space is devoted to her production of psychic phenomena for audiences of believers, such as making music from a bowl of water and hexing a card table so no one could lift it; little is said about her alleged unmasking by an investigator from the Society of Psychical Research in 1884. Although the book gives the appearance of being thoroughly researched (it offers over 70 pages of notes and bibliography), it is sadly lacking in balance, depth, or even interest.
- Dave Summers, Holly Twp. Lib., Mich.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 29, 1997
Format: Paperback
English is my second language, but when I read this book, I
read it without stopping. I have spent the past 25 years
travelling around the world with my husband, and spent about
the same time searching for the truth of life and universe.
Based on my personal research and experience, I can not
help but think Madame Blavatsky is not only an extraordinary
person, she is also a person with special mission. Sylvia
Cranston's book on Madame Blavatsky is, in my view, the most
truthful and unprejudiced biography. I have spent four
months since last December, trying to purchase a copy
without success. Maybe, Bookstore can help me
find one.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Asia Khuf on February 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As the title indicates, this book presents in very readable form the life of H. P. Blavatsky and her considerable influence on important 20th century figures from Einstein to Elvis (he read out passages from her books on stage). But it does something else that very few works on HPB have done before, and that is to present major themes in Blavatsky's thought and work, with ample quotes from her letters and writings. Even theosophical writers have tended to focus on Madam Blavatsky's colorful character, adventures, and occult manifestations, rather than bring to the fore the depth of her insights.

Blavatsky has been unfairly dissed by writers who assume from the start that Masters (or Bodhisattvas) could never exist and 'occult' phenomena are all fraudulent, assumptions that run counter to thousands of years of Asian records and tradition. In that sense, the fact that Cranston is an unabashed believer probably adds to the value of the work. Where she falls short is in failing to mention Blavatsky's suicide attempt, contacts with the Russian secret service, and other more human, less saintly aspects, all verifiable by documentary evidence. Also, there were several mistakes in the initial edition, so it is better to get later editions if possible.

All in all, for the reader who is interested in getting a sympathetic, intelligent account of Madam Blavatsky's teachings, without having to wade through the 20 thick volumes she penned, this is the book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Naysayers will probably never change their minds, believers don't need to. So defending HPB is somewhat futile, if you are trying to convert anyone. It is helpful for skeptical people to take note of the many outstanding, respected people, many literary people, who were quite enamored by HPB, and knew in their hearts that she was telling a great truth about humanity's past present and future. I was amazed to read the excerpt from Vonnegut's article in McCall's magazine, wherein he extends, in his own fashion, a bit of qualified support for HPB. Certainly most people must recognize that the orthodox world, with many well-intended folks, some decidedly not well-intended in my estimation, has utterly failed to shed much light on the reality of our world, and life in general. Blavatsky is the opening of the door into the world of reality; ancient, timeless, attainable wisdom and attendant perfection with its proper use. Mankind's needs her insights more today that ever, and while she opened the door the Masters, further light has been given through the books of the Saint Germain Series. I recommend then to anyone wanting to have something that will take them to a place where expanded service to life is possible, where personal spiritual attainment is clearly laid out for anyone to try.
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By ISRAEL ORTEGA on February 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A marvellous book, a great biogaphy from one of the greatest addepts from the 18th Century, i recomend the voice of silence from HP Blavatky as well
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