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1. The Sacred and The Profane: The
2. History of Religious Ideas, Volume
3. Rites and Symbols of Initiation:
4. The Forbidden Forest
5. The Myth of the Eternal Return:
6. Bengal Nights: A Novel
7. The Myth of the Eternal Return:
8. Yoga: Immortality and Freedom
9. Hermeneutics, Politics, and the
10. Patterns in Comparative Religion
11. The Eliade Guide to World Religions
12. Essential Sacred Writings From
13. Shamanism: Archaic Techniques
14. Occultism, Witchcraft, and Cultural
15. The Two and the One (A Phoenix
16. Shamanism - Archaic Techniques
17. Journal II, 1957-1969 (v. 2)
18. Images and Symbols
19. Two Strange Tales
20. Autobiography, Volume 1: 1907-1937,

1. The Sacred and The Profane: The Nature of Religion
by Mircea Eliade
Paperback: 256 Pages (1987-10-23)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$6.99
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Asin: 015679201X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A noted historian of religion traces manifestations of the sacred from primitive to modern times, in terms of space, time, nature and the cosmos, and life itself. Index. Translated by Willard Trask.
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Customer Reviews (28)

5-0 out of 5 stars Good.
It took a long time for this book to arrive, but I think that it was to postal system's fault, not the sellers.

5-0 out of 5 stars best book on religion I have ever read.I have been looking for a copy of it for years.

Best book on what all religions have in common I have ever read.
Beautifully detailed and researched.Very objective.

This text is widely used in university comparative religion studies because it is a seminal work.

Deepak Chopra is a tepid recycling of this work.

1-0 out of 5 stars Don't bother unless you're a philosophy PhD
Omg. I was really looking forward to this book but the title is very misleading. The author went on a huge ego trip of using million dollar words thinking it would impress people.I wasn't.I remember coming out of Grad school doing the same thing.People looked at me like what foriegn language are you speaking? If your target audience is the general public speak in real language. I understood it but it was so boring and reminded me of some teachers I had that did not know how to teach. Take out the million dallar words and you could sum up what he was trying to say in maybe 5 pages. I gave it away to a Philosophy Professor.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lost Worlds of the Sacred
The world contains two kinds of people: those who have read Mircea Eliade, and those who should do so as soon as possible. In one reader's humble opinion he is worth 3 of Lévi-Strauss and 6 of Carl Jung.

Growing up immersed in Romanian folkways and Orthodox ritual, he was living in the archaic world of myth and symbol, so it's no surprise that he writes about it so convincingly.
He went to India to study Yoga when few Europeans had even heard the word; and while he was there (to fill the long lonely evenings,) he learnt Sanskrit, Pali and who-knows-what-else. His scholarship has you reaching for the oxygen-mask: he seemed to have read everything related to his wide interests in at least 15 languages.
Though all but canonised in his native Romania, elsewhere he has fallen between two stools: too opinionated and subjective for the scholars, too scholarly for the public. But this hasn't stopped the pervasive spread of dummed-down versions of his ideas.

Eliade was one of those scholars (artists, poets) who keep returning to a stock of obsessions or key ideas, interpreting all and everything in their light. One such is the subject of this book: that distinction between the Sacred and the Profane, or holy things and ordinary things, so crucial for most ancient and religious cultures.
This is one of the of his best books to begin on (the other is "The Myth of the Eternal Return".) Nothing that I have ever read helps you more in understanding the fabulous lost worlds of pre-modern thought, so often disparaged and misconstrued out of ignorance.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sacred and the Profane
Years ago, I was assigned this book in one of my university classes. I number it in my most memorable and personally influential works that I have ever read. At the time, I had just begun to study archaeology and had very little understanding of the concept of ethnocentricism. My personal way of thinking was very black and white. The only real experience that I had with the dichotomies of the sacred versus the profane at that point was my own experiences.

The Sacred and the Profane gave me an entirely different perspective. I began seeing how others saw religion, spirituality, ritual, and symbolism in slightly different ways. How certain experiences could be interpreted in a variety of ways to become personal and cultural beliefs. I also noticed how these beliefs permeated into everyday life. So began my interests in spirituality, symbolic dichotomies, and the varied beliefs of others. ... Read more

2. History of Religious Ideas, Volume 2: From Gautama Buddha to the Triumph of Christianity
by Mircea Eliade
Paperback: 580 Pages (1985-01-15)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$14.70
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Asin: 0226204030
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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In volume 2 of this monumental work, Mircea Eliade continues his magisterial progress through the history of religious ideas. The religions of ancient China, Brahmanism and Hinduism, Buddha and his contemporaries, Roman religion, Celtic and German religions, Judaism, the Hellenistic period, the Iranian syntheses, and the birth of Christianity—all are encompassed in this volume.
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Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb
Mircea Eliade was a genius, a polymath, and his three-volume history of religious ideas deserves to go on your bookshelf right next to Copleston's history of philosophy.

I want this review to be brief, so I'll just point out that Page One is really worth the price of the entire book.On that page, Eliade simply reprints his earlier thoughts on religion in general, which strike me as absolutely true: around the world and throughout recorded time, we human beings have been religious.

And this is something which really deserves serious thought and examination.I myself am about as religious as a pea, but I cannot help noticing that I am in a distinct minority.Then I look at Page One again, and think again about Eliade's statement that religion is a constant of human consciousness, NOT an historical stage which we have passed through.

Well, the man who most fervently believed that religion was "only a phase" was Mr. Karl Marx, who nowadays looks to have been proven wrong about almost everything.

As Eliade says, "it is difficult to imagine how the human mind could function without the conviction that there is something irreducibly *real* in the world; and it is impossible to imagine how consciousness could appear without conferring a *meaning* on man's impulses and experiences.Consciousness of a real and meaningful world is intimately connected with the discovery of the sacred.....Living, considered as being human, is in itself a *religious act*, for food-getting, sexual life, and work have a sacramental value.In other words, to be --- or, rather, to become --- *a man* signifies being 'religious.' "

This might well be compared with Larkin's poem, "Church Going."

Perhaps the question for us non-believers is not so much to "convert" others, as to try to define a religion that works for everyone.Just as an example, I cannot see any reason why a religious life should involve a conflict with science, or an easily-falsifiable belief that the Earth was created in 4,000 BC.

In any case, Volume I begins with the Paleolithic -- the earliest hunter-gatherers.It continues through "the longest revolution" --- agriculture -- the Mesolithic and the Neolithic.The next stop is Mesopotamia and Sumer / Babylon, followed by the religious ideas of the Pharoahs. There is a "detour" into the mystery of the megaliths (Stonehenge etc.).There follows a discussion of the Hittites and the Canaanites, early Israel, and then a sudden shift to the Europeans and the Indian Vedic gods.The rest of the volume deals with the phases of Greek religion, Indian religion before Buddha, and Zarathustra.

That's just Volume I of an extremely detailed and thorough history of our religious ideas.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great work by this important author
Eliade isn't for everyone. That said, in my opinion, this trilogy is the most thorough, informative, complete work on the subject of religiosity that has ever been done. Quite simply, the tabula rosa on the subject. Must buy all 3 volumes. I found ex-libris copies (like new) through Amazon for a fraction of the price of one new hardcover volume. Indispensableresource for the advanced student of history, philosophy, religion, and sociology. Can't say enough about Eliade. He rocked my understanding of culture, religion and society.

5-0 out of 5 stars History of Ideas, Volume I by Mircea Eliade
The product arrived on time as stipulated. Mircea Eliade is a must for students of mythology who want to go beyond a myth's story and come to understand how and why it was written, and why it remains eternal.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sourcebook on religion.
An excellent source of information about early development of religion. It shows the evolution of human thought with respect to metaphysical matters.

5-0 out of 5 stars The human and the spiritual
Mircea Eliade has spent a lifetime exploring the origins, meaning and mysteries of mankind's spiritual inner being. He is the Joseph Campbell of religion - not myth. This first volume was ably translated (from the French) into clear and direct English - a hallmark of his writing.It is difficult to speak knowingly of neolithic religion because the evidence is largely circumstantial and evolutionary.That is, we divine from our own religious present what must have existed prior to the forming of current ideas.

One of his main points is that peoples around the world, for whatever reason, seemed to be instinctually drawn toward the worship of something - an object, animal, human or unseen god or goddess. In this first volume he explores various cultures and their beliefs - the Mayas, Greeks, Iranians, neolithic man, Egypt, other Middle East groups...a dazzling array of cultures and societies.As the imagination grew, so did belief in an unseen world.

Of particular interest is the section on ancient Israeli beliefs and the origins of Yahweh.The chapters on religion in Greece were notable for their abundant detail.Even in the most isolated areas, the same rites and beliefs emerged - the idea of sacrifice, the belief in another life, the battle of good vs evil, the idea of holy representatives and eventually the thought of eternal life. ... Read more

3. Rites and Symbols of Initiation: The Mysteries of Birth and Rebirth
by Mircea Eliade
Paperback: 204 Pages (2009-07-22)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$13.20
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Asin: 0882143581
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Organizing data from cultures the world over, Mircea Eliade, one of the preeminent interpreters of world religion in the twentieth century, lays out the basic patterns of initiation: group puberty rites, entrance into secret cults, shamanic instruction, individual visions, and heroic rites of passage. The vast information assembled here transcends usual scholarship. Eliade always affirms the greater experience in all initiation the indissoluble tie between humans and the cosmos of gods, spirits, animals, ancestors, and nature. As Michael Meade writes in his foreword, Eliade fervently worked at keeping the doors of perception open to the world of sacred symbols and creative ritual. Through his insistence that we are each the necessary inheritors of a vast sacred heritage, he has acted as a spiritual elder and distant mentor to me and many students of myth and ritual. Like an archeologist of symbols, he has unearthed, preserved, and found new meanings in the rites of our ancestors. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Important classic, worth reading
In this work, Eliade explores the general approaches to initiation found among archaic cultures and how these have survived or not in historical traditions.While the work can in no way claim to be complete, it is a classic in its field, like so much of Eliade's work.

Eliade utilizes a comparative methodology in looking for universal or nearly universal patterns in comparative religion.Here he looks at archaic initiation ceremonies in the Americas, Australia, and Africa, and compares these with India, Christianity, and historical Greece.The general parallels in symbolism and patter that he shows are quite meaningful and can help people understand related topics.

Highly recommended for anyone studying this topic.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ian Myles Slater on: Transitions and Rituals
This little book is a translation of a series of half a dozen lectures, with endnotes providing documentation. The history and bibliography are a little tricky. "Patterns of Initiation: The Haskell Lectures of 1956" were delivered at the University of Chicago by Mircea Eliade, a Romanian exile who had been recruited from the Sorbonne to help build up the University's Comparative Religion department. The lectures were composed in French, Eliade's main second language, and the English translation by Willard Trask was published in 1958, by Harvill Press, London, and Harper & Brothers, New York, as "Birth and Rebirth." (I have reviewed the Harper edition, used copies of which are sometimes available through Amazon: the full title, as given there, is "Birth and Rebirth: The Religious Meanings of Initiation in Human Culture," in The Library of Religion and Culture series.)

The present title, "Rites and Symbols of Initiation: The Mysteries of Birth and Rebirth," was introduced with the Harper Torchbook paperback edition of 1965. (The publisher had meanwhile become Harper & Row; and today is included in HarperCollins.) There was a Harper College Division reprinting in 1980. The current edition, from Spring Publications, has a new Foreword (by Michael Meade), but seems to be otherwise identical.

Meanwhile, a rather different French edition ("a rehandling of the material") had been published as "Naissances mystiques. Essai sur quelques types d'initiation" (Paris, 1959). (That makes three versions and four titles, if you've lost count. And a variety of textually identical editions of the English-language version.)

Eliade (1907-1986) remained connected to the University of Chicago for pretty much the rest of his life. Although from an institutional point of view he wasn't quite the well-organized driving force that had been desired, he continued to produce interesting and exciting work, not all of which has aged equally well. (For a short account of Eliade's life, work, and an evaluation of his place in the twentieth century, see "The Politics of Myth: A Study of C.G. Jung, Mircea Eliade, and Joseph Campbell," by Robert S. Ellwood.)

"Rites and Symbols" is one of a large number of small works by Eliade which stand alongside such monuments of scholarship as "Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy," and "Yoga: Immortality and Freedom," and the attempted summation of his views in the three completed volumes of his "History of Religious Ideas."

The material it contains makes it something of a companion to "Shamanism" in particular, giving a more universal context to the initiatory experiences and rituals described there. It deals with ritual responses to "changes of status" in traditional societies, from the commonly recognized "Rites of Passage" (as delineated in Arnold van Gennep's classic book of that name), such as Birth, Adult-hood, and Death, to cultural constructs, such as entry into secret societies, or the company of Gods and Ancestors.

The original lecture-series title, "Patterns of Initiation," is in some ways the best, suggesting at once that Eliade is focusing on recurring themes, rather than unique instances. The more poetic titles, at least of the English-language version, may have been used because a translation of an earlier work had been published already as "Patterns in Comparative Religion."

I think that it remains useful, although according to the classicist Fritz Graf it "remains as superficial as it is dogmatic" ("Magic in the Ancient World," page 264, note 15). I would call it, rather, schematic, concise, and sometimes poorly argued. The documentation, although now obviously rather dated, often is more impressive than the slender body of quotations Eliade provides in his survey of a vast number of times and places. There are also some minor problems with the translation; probably inevitably, with the number of languages involved, in Eliade's own mind as well as the source materials he was using.

I'm not about to give up my aging copy of the Harper Torchbook edition; but Spring Publications deserves gratitude for bringing the book back into print.

5-0 out of 5 stars A classic on the subject of initiation
Anyone planning a initiation into manhood (or woman hood) or rite of passage should know about this book.It is number one most referenced source of information on initiation in traditional cultures.No one cansay they understand the legacy of initiation in primative or traditionalcultures without reading this book.

Although it is a academic qualitywork it is very readable. The layman should have no problem understandingit. My only complaint about this book is that I wish it were longer. ... Read more

4. The Forbidden Forest
by Mircea Eliade
 Hardcover: 596 Pages (1978-05)
-- used & new: US$266.11
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Asin: 0268009430
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Magical Romania
This novel is long and is hard work, but is worth it. Mircea Eliade brought his huge knowledge of comparative religion and folklore, combining it with recent Romanian history -- the "Ruritanian" interwar period, and the darker and grim rise of the Iron Guard, the Royal Dictatorship of King Carol II, and the forced return of parts of the country to Hungary and the USSR.

Despite this background, the magic of the woods outside Bucharest, the traditions surrounding Midsummer Eve, and the hedonistic lifestyle of the main character provide a heady mix.

This is an enchanting and intoxicating novel, a mixture of the ancient and modern, the timeless and the mundane. ... Read more

5. The Myth of the Eternal Return: Or, Cosmos and History (Bollingen Series, XLVI)
by Mircea Eliade
Paperback: 195 Pages (1974)
-- used & new: US$19.99
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Asin: B0006X2LTY
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This founding work of the history of religions, first published in English in 1954, secured the North American reputation of the Romanian émigré-scholar Mircea Eliade (1907-1986). Making reference to an astonishing number of cultures and drawing on scholarship published in no less than half a dozen European languages, Eliade's The Myth of the Eternal Return makes both intelligible and compelling the religious expressions and activities of a wide variety of archaic and "primitive" religious cultures. While acknowledging that a return to the "archaic" is no longer possible, Eliade passionately insists on the value of understanding this view in order to enrich our contemporary imagination of what it is to be human. Jonathan Z. Smith's new introduction provides the contextual background to the book and presents a critical outline of Eliade's argument in a way that encourages readers to engage in an informed conversation with this classic text. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars To Transcend Profane Time
It is always a joy to read a great man's greatest book- and the author himself considered this to be the most significant of all his works. He would expand the central concepts elsewhere, but it is here that they first seem to burst forth. From he way he rattles out references and examples with only a line or footnote you get the feeling that he can't be bothered with detailed analysis because he is too caught up with the central ideas and is being swept along with them. It is an infectious enthusiasm.

The central idea here is that for traditional man (man before our brief and temporary modern epoch) no act or object was real if it did not repeat or imitate an archetype. All meaning, all reality, flowed down from above. The goal was to achieve connection through the divine center with the archetype and therefore become one with the god or hero, indeed to abolish profane time itself and be transported into the mythical moment when the original model took place. This wasn't superstitious imitation; it was becoming one with true reality.

Nothing in a traditional society had any reality if it had no connection to the Divine- from buildings, cities, clothing, utensils- or your own life. The goal of life was to find the center of your being in the manner of the great heroes. Through arduous seeking and wandering through the profane and illusory earthly existence one would finally find the center and breakthrough into a life that was real, enduring, and effective.

The ultimate expression of this mode of life and behavior in the West was Platonic philosophy.

In reading this book I could not but wonder if this principle is not at the deepest core of every human being, and the reason why everything "modern" inevitably seems to be so cheap, meaningless, and illusory. Of course I am no academic specialist but rather "the cultivated man" that the author refers to in his foreward...

If I may add one more brief observation, it seems to me that an understanding of the principles of this book are key to an understanding of what 2012 really means. One of the greatest of the cosmic cycles is coming to a close. Mundane time will give way to sacred time. The actual instant of creation comes again- chaos gives way to cosmos. Regeneration is achieved by abolishing past time and reactualizing the cosmogony.

1-0 out of 5 stars way too many pages
Author has some fairly provocative ideas that are badly explained and repeated endlessly throughout the book. The book could have been ten pages, instead it was over a hundred. She had plenty of opportunity to site rich examples andgave nothing of any importance. This is a book in search of a good editor.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Myth of the Eternal Return
This was my second book by Mircea Eliade, and it is very similar in content to his more basic introduction book "The Sacred and the Profane", detailing mostly the so-called Archaic religions views on time and space and related issues of religion. Naturally, being a bit longer, it also is more focused and in many ways more interesting for me personally, since a lot of it deals with the Indo-European concept of the ages and the Cosmos. Eliade was a professor of the history of religions at the University of Chicago, among other things, but he was also very well travelled, having studied under the guidance of an Indian yogi back in Mother India. He was born in Rumania, a contemporary of the European idealist freedom fighter Corneliu Codreanu in the 30's, and in fact a member of the Legion of the Archangel Michael, a radical "Right-wing" religious organization opposed to the project of creating a new Israel on Rumanian soil.

Although Eliade throughout his life claimed to be very "apolitical", his views on religion have a natural conservative and reactionary consequence, so hence this is for sure one of "our own boys". The book itself is split into four chapters, the first one being "Archetypes and Repetition". This is highly interesting, and details the many forms of rituals throughout the world (mostly archaic) that have been performed to re-create the cosmogony and the sacred times when the Gods or God-heroes performed the original act that the ritual today resembles. Eliade claims that for sacred rituals there is always a divine model that is more real than the perceived reality around us. He is quite clearly influenced by Platonic philosophy, with his emphasis that it is the divine celestial model that is real, the "idea", if you will, and that reality merely is a cheaper mirror copy of the celestial reality.

The second chapter is "The Regeneration of Time", a chapter dealing with the idea that the world and the cosmos need regeneration, which the human races have a responsibility of helping with. Often, this fell on the first time of the New Year, so hence, the Ragnarok of the cosmos fell on the last day of the year, and then the cosmos was regenerated on the first.

The third chapter is "Misfortune and History", where he does get a little political as well, dryly remarking that those that have claimed all in history is good, probably wouldn't have felt the same way had they been born in the Baltic or in the Balkans, where they for the simple reason of being neighbours with the Red Beast got invaded and killed off in millions. He then goes a little quasi-Hegelian on us, when he details how many races and cultures have though of history as theophany, that is, history as the appearance of God. He also details the various Yugas, or ages if you will, and how we are now decidedly in the Kali Yuga, the last age, known as Ragnarok to my own Germanic ancestors. If you don't believe this, turn on your television, and see how degraded the West and the world has become as of late, always deteriorating further.

The final chapter is "The Terror of History", detailing how these people acted with their knowledge that everything always returns, that unless you find a way out of the circle, your soul will always return to existence, along with the eternal cosmos. The fact that Creation will occur again and again is not something that many so-called "modern Christians" will find acceptable, but alas, this is what our ancestors believed, as well as the fact that for large parts of European Christianity, the Christological interpretation of history was merged with the Aryan one, to create a kind of "Cosmic Christianity", which was the religion that Eliade himself felt a part of.

This is of course a very shallow review of such a wide and deep book filled with examples and information to the brim, but I've read it twice in a month now, so it is certainly a wonderful book.

(I read the first English 1955-edition)

5-0 out of 5 stars Human Destiny as the Product of Consciousness
Somewhere on the cover, or in the preface, or even in the introductions to other of his many profound works in the field of comparative religious studies, one will find Eliade's famous counsel: "I consider it the most significant of my books; and when asked in what order they should be read, I always recommend beginning with The Myth of the Eternal Return."One of the enduring monuments of twentieth century academic writing, The Myth of the Eternal Return expounds Eliade's seminal ruminations on the advent of the nuclear, or post-modern era - the naissance of our capacity for apocalyptic self-annihilation - an attempt to demonstrate in analyzable terms the relation between the foundations of the contemporary psyche to the seemingly adventitious madness which actively anticipates (and even militates in favor of) an end-time, an Armageddon, a Judgment Day, if you will.Eliade thus asks the arch-question: "What can protect us from the terror of history?"
The discussion is framed within a comparison between what Eliade deems as the distinctive difference between the ancient and modern, the archaic (or primitive) and contemporary world-view.The modern envisions reality as a series of events which fulminate in a linear, progressive history - a history which had a beginning and will have an end.The ancient experiences reality as an endless, cyclic repetition of primordial acts. "... the life of archaic man (a life reduced to the repetition of archetypal acts, that is, to categories and not to events, to the unceasing rehearsal of the same primordial myths) although it takes place in time, does not bear the burden of time, does not record time's irreversibility; in other words, completely ignores what is especially characteristic and decisive in a consciousness of time.Like the mystic, like the religious man in general, the primitive lives in a continual present.(And it is in this sense that the religious man may be said to be a `primitive'; he repeats the gestures of another and, through this repetition, lives always in an atemporal present.)"
Eliade points to the centrality of the lunar cycle in the mythological fabric woven from this perspective, which, to a degree, envelops our own world-view, however linear and eschatologically determinate."The phases of the moon - appearance, increase, wane, disappearance, followed by reappearance after three nights of darkness - have played an immense part in the elaboration of cyclical concepts.We find analogous concepts especially in the archaic apocalypses and anthropogonies; deluge or flood puts an end to an exhausted and sinful humanity, and a new regenerated humanity is born, usually from a mythical `ancestor' who escaped the catastrophe, or from a lunar animal."Regeneration of humanity is thus always implied in its destruction.In the natural imaging, like the seasons, we assure ourselves, fall and dissolution are ever succeeded by renewal. "... just as the disappearance of the moon is never final, since it is necessarily followed by a new moon, the disappearance of man is not final either; in particular, even the disappearance of an entire humanity ... is never total ..."As the modern (historical) cultures translate this concept, "this optimism can be reduced to a consciousness of the normality of the cyclical catastrophe, to the certainty that it has a meaning and, above all, that it is never final... In the `lunar perspective', the death of the individual and the periodic death of humanity are necessary, even as the three days of darkness preceding the `rebirth' of the moon are necessary. The death of the individual and the death of humanity are alike necessary for their regeneration ... what predominates in all these cosmico-mythological lunar conceptions is the cyclical occurrence of what has been before, in a word, eternal return."
Due to the fact that the modern, predominantly Western model, of consciousness, primarily informed by Hebraic/Christian-Greek (teleological) influences, perceives time as a matrix for linear progress toward eschatological fulfillment, an end (and Eliade does not hesitate to analyze with his usual acumen - and here one must highlight the amazing passage where he claims that the concept of `ekpyrosis', the destruction of the world by fire, originates in early Iranian mythology - how Islam developed within this eschatological framework), we are forced to confront what he terms "the terror of history", the assertion (often stated by zealots of various stripes as fact) that human history, itself, must end.Recognition of this shift in human consciousness, from the archaic celebration of the repetition of nativity to the modern obsession with the limitation of mortality yields enormous explanatory power.In the face of the nuclear option, we must seriously consider how far such concepts as "resurrection", "rebirth" have tangible reality, not merely a traditionally assigned or contemplatively evoked meaning, but value as real states of affairs.
"Since the `invention' of faith, in the Judeo-Christian sense of the word (= for God all is possible), the man who has left the horizon of archetypes and repetition can no longer defend himself against that terror except through the idea of God . . .Any other situation of modern man leads, in the end, to despair.It is a despair provoked not by his own human existentiality, but by his presence in a historical universe in which almost the whole of mankind lives prey to a continual terror (even if not always conscious of it) . . .
In this respect, Christianity incontestably proves to be the religion of `fallen man': and to the extent to which modern man is irremediably identified with history and progress, and to which history and progress are a fall, both implying the final abandonment of the paradise of archetypes and repetition."These are the words with which the book concludes.If all that we are is the product of all that has been thought, they deserve the closest sort of reading by every thinking being.For the final abandonment, in the fine sense and print, means no less than the final abandonment of planet earth and the evolutionary project of humanity in full.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ability to Recreate verses Historical Existentialism
I'm in awe over this book! It's a larger lens, a higher mountain to see religious and historical thought. Really, I am amazed at this book. 50 years after it is written and I've read hundreds of books and here I am dumb founded. Read some of the other amazon.com reviews here (some are excellent) and now I am adding to them.

Eliade relates two main types of persons. The archaic man and the modern. The archaic models his life on archetypes, similiar to Plato's "world of ideas," forsaking history in favor of such. He repeatedly and continually destroys all history and recreates himself in a new beginning. He does this by entering a timeless realm Eliade calls the illo tempore, a timeless and numinous death and rebirth, which he bases on cyclic events of some type.

The modern man negates all of this in favor of historicity. He measures all history and time, or the profane time, and bases his entire life on the meaning of such in present existence and all future decision making. However, without the archaic man's non-historical regenerative abilities to recreate himself in such timelessness, or in the sacred, in imitation of archetypes, the modern historical man faces extreme existential despair. But what saves the modern man from suicide and utter meaninglessness in relativism and nihilism; he joins to his historical self, either religious faith, cyclic theories, mysticism, science and philosophy.

Hegel suggests history (and all the evil in history) is never repeated and necessary for the evolution to higher ends. Only persons like Belinsky or Dostoeyski have resisted but weakly in that. Marx had made a science of history as the results of the class struggle, which ultimately fails and leaves us in our existential relativity.

So remedies are created to coincide with historical measurement, as in Nietzsche's Eternal Return,although cyclic in nature is not the Eternal Return of the Archaic man who regenerations a new beginning, but rather that of the Greek Heraclitus and Pythagorean thoughts, are the cyclic meanings needed to live a life of measured time and history apart from the archaic regenerative man of archetype models and rebirth into new beginnings. The same holds true for Oswald Spenglers biological conception of history and Heidegger's idea of historicity transcending all are what modern man must attach to his linear historical measurement.

While monotheism, the first to measure history and time encounters the timelessness of the illo tempore in the beginning of creation and in the "end" of the world or in Christianity in the second coming of the messiah. Unlike the archaic man who enters the new creation each and every time he recreates both himself and his world.

Eliade suggests that perhaps mankind will one day return to the archaic man of regeneration in repetition of rituals and meaning to cease measuring this time and enter in the timelessness, letting go of history and entering in the illo tempore.

(Archetype Non-Historical Regeneration Man)
The wind blows - but - gets continually reborn; or,
(Historical Man with Religious Faith)
Cling to your dusty mirror and hold God's hand.
(Historical Man without Religious Faith)
Or the mirror without dust would destroy the world.

And to sum it up, Archaic man had no history, repeated archetype models, destroying his past (all history) and recreating the beginning of time each year in a mystical, timeless moment in the illo tempore, all history erased. While modern man relies on history and profane time and gains either science, philosophy or religious faith to prevent him from dying in existential despair.

Now I'm reading this great book entitled, When Science Meets Religion, by Ian G. Barbour and reading of those with religious faith who conform the uncertainties of quantum physics with a God who controls such acausual events. Seeing this through Eliade's lens, I see this as an historical man's attempt to join religious faith to his history and science in order to prevent him from existential despair in the terror of history. For the archaic man none of this is needed, as he will erase all history, re-creating the beginning of time reborn in the timeless moment of illo tempore, not of some future time but of the present.

And while the modern man has history and faith, he also forms minority governments to control, organized and maintains his linear history. The majority are followers, freedom is seriously limited. The archaic man has complete freedom as each time cycle or year, to erase all history, to enter in the timeless moment of the archetype of illo tempore and re-create himself and his world.

I can't say enough for this book, this only a summary of a higher mountain to see humanity. ... Read more

6. Bengal Nights: A Novel
by Mircea Eliade
Paperback: 184 Pages (1995-04-01)
list price: US$17.50 -- used & new: US$9.94
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Asin: 0226204197
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Set in 1930s Calcutta, this is a roman á clef of remarkable intimacy. Originally published in Romanian in 1933, this semiautobiographical novel by the world renowned scholar Mircea Eliade details the passionate awakenings of Alain, an ambitious young French engineer flush with colonial pride and prejudice and full of a European fascination with the mysterious subcontinent.

Offered the hospitality of a senior Indian colleague, Alain grasps at the chance to discover the authentic India firsthand. He soon finds himself enchanted by his host's daughter, the lovely and inscrutable Maitreyi, a precocious young poet and former student of Tagore. What follows is a charming, tentative flirtation that soon, against all the proprieties and precepts of Indian society, blossoms into a love affair both impossible and ultimately tragic. This erotic passion plays itself out in Alain's thoughts long after its bitter conclusion. In hindsight he sets down the story, quoting from the diaries of his disordered days, and trying to make sense of the sad affair.

A vibrantly poetic love story, Bengal Nights is also a cruel account of the wreckage left in the wake of a young man's self discovery. At once horrifying and deeply moving, Eliade's story repeats the patterns of European engagement with India even as it exposes and condemns them. Invaluable for the insight it offers into Eliade's life and thought, it is a work of great intellectual and emotional power.

"Bengal Nights is forceful and harshly poignant, written with a great love of India informed by clear-eyed understanding. But do not open it if you prefer to remain unmoved by your reading matter. It is enough to make stones weep." — Literary Review

Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) was the Sewell L. Avery Distinguished Service Professor in the Divinity School and the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. Many of his scholarly works, as well as his two-volume autobiography and four-volume journal, are published by the University of Chicago Press. Translated into French in 1950, Bengal Nights was an immediate critical success. The film, Les Nuits Bengali, appeared in 1987.
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Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Very moving
I have read "Na Hanyate" by Maitreyi Devi a few years ago and I read this book a few days back. Both the books are very moving in their own way. Many have mentioned of the fantasies in Bengal Nights. From reading the book it does feel like the descriptions of the nights and love making are indeed from a fantasy and not real. But if you leave that part aside, the sadness which is described after their sudden separation seems very real. The way author has described his feelings of dissolution is very touching and makes one feel helpless. His emotions as expressed in most part seems true and honest. It will leave you thinking for a while what could have been done to stop the disaster in their young lives that happened almost a century ago. May be nothing...may be something...who knows.

4-0 out of 5 stars A minor actor in the drama
As a graduate student at the University of Chicago in the early 1970's, I was assigned to shepherd visiting scholar Maitreyi Devi around during her visit there to speak on Tagore (Rabi Thakur). She requested that I take her to Mircea Eliade's Mead Theological Seminary office. What happened in Eliade's office was a bit puzzling. But several days later a Bengali faculty member told me about Eliade's book and their earlier love.
I've been telling that story for thirty years. This spring I told it to another Bengali scholar at a cocktail party in Canada. He was stunned. He said, "You are in her book!" I bought the second book, and I am in it. The incident is the last chapter of Devi's "It Does Not Die" - I am the Shirley in the story.
Now I have an even better story to tell.

5-0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ!
I read this book when I was about sixteen, and it moved me profoundly.BENGAL NIGHTS, which is known in original version as Maitrey recounts the story of two lovers by the name of Alain and Maitrey. Of course that the story has something true, indeed, Eliade fell in love with Dasgupta's daughter Maitrey.Just imagine that the love story narrated in the novel, happened in reality. Also, must be remembered that Eliade was very much influenced by the "balkan supreme sacrifice" when he wrote Bengal Nights. And if you read more of his work, you will see that the same kind of sacrifice is found in "From Primitives to.." or in "The myth of the eternal return". I am talking, of course, the tracico-dacico mythology, where the death is seen not as the ultimate step of existence but as a gate to another world. For example, the dacians were proud to die, and only the most worthy of them was put to death. Now, in the novel you can see the same thing , but the supreme sacrifice is dedicated to love. And here comes the contribution of the indian mythology, where love and sexuality play a very important role. Whereas in the european mythology, the love is concealed by the Christian Church. Well, this is the substratum of the story anyway. And is just an opinion of mine. Nevertheless, add this book to the shopping cart now, and you will experience something that a very few books could make you feel!

5-0 out of 5 stars Mad, out of control, beautiful
This book is a dream, a message, a powerful explosion of signs, a bloody and mangled corpse left by the passage of some hurricane. In the year of the great success of "Monsoon Wedding" this book more than ever deserves to be read and wept about.

Is this the confession of a repentant Adam, come to weep at the gates of Eden where he so briefly knew bliss? Is it the war story of a proud and Faustian soul who learns European reason after tasting the blood of innocents? Is it the testimony of an emasculated Abelard, who can remember but can no longer experience the passion of his wretched Eloise?

All of these, all of these and much that cannot be justly set forth besides. The style is awkward, at times clumsy, but the life of this book is so vivid, so true, so radiant and bewildering, it reminds me of what many religious teachers have said: that if a man tried to look at God directly, though he would be filled with inexpressible joy, he would also certainly die. In that sense this book is a near-death experience.

It gets off to a shaky start, a bit like a model-T Ford being wound up on a dusty road, but soon you are captured into a whirlwind of passion and ideas, a kind of psychedelia, with levels and reversals of meaning radiating off into space in every direction: as the other reviewers have said -- colonialism, Hinduism and Christianity (and what is Christianity but prophetic Judaism captured and set to music by exiled Indian temple priests), romance, pride, purity, childhood, selfishness, devotion, promise, punishment, renunciation...

Like all Romanian poets, Eliade's motto should be "Lord, grant me only this vision!" His vision burns with the intensity of an acetylene arc. May the reader shield his eyes and turn it to good use.

5-0 out of 5 stars The XXth century's love story novel
When this book first appeared they said that, same as every century has its love story novel, the XXth century has "Bengal Nights" (original title: "Maitrey") for its own love story novel. I used to believe that a scientist such as Eliade couldn't write fine literature. After reading "Bengal Nights" I found out I was mistaking. It is an excellent written book that tells an wonderfull story. ... Read more

7. The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History (Bollingen Series; Mythos Series)
by Mircea Eliade
Paperback: 232 Pages (2005-04-18)
list price: US$21.95 -- used & new: US$17.45
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Asin: 0691123500
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This founding work of the history of religions, first published in English in 1954, secured the North American reputation of the Romanian émigré-scholar Mircea Eliade (1907-1986). Making reference to an astonishing number of cultures and drawing on scholarship published in no less than half a dozen European languages, Eliade's The Myth of the Eternal Return makes both intelligible and compelling the religious expressions and activities of a wide variety of archaic and "primitive" religious cultures. While acknowledging that a return to the "archaic" is no longer possible, Eliade passionately insists on the value of understanding this view in order to enrich our contemporary imagination of what it is to be human. Jonathan Z. Smith's new introduction provides the contextual background to the book and presents a critical outline of Eliade's argument in a way that encourages readers to engage in an informed conversation with this classic text. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Eliade's Big Bang
A prolix review for such a poignantly brief work would be pointless. We know of authors who have composed a seminal work which is disordered, short, magmatic, extremely questionable, but genial and pregnant:Nietzsche on Greek tragedy, for instance. This is a similar case, and Eliade's most important intuitions are presented in this readable treatise: the distinction between linear and circular time, and therefore the hierophany, the manifestation of the sacred, as elimination of the profane and ontological communion with the true archetype, which existed, out of time, before time, ab illo tempore, in the world of myth, and therefore truly existed--and can exist again, can give true being to the profane by filling it of sacred. No better explanation/interpretation of premodern religious sentiments.

5-0 out of 5 stars Eliade is deeply original in his analysis.
"Myth of the Eternal Return" is typically considered a vital text to anyone interested in sociological,anthropological and psychological approaches to religion.

Eliade is deeply original in his analysis, and I found he transformed my understanding of religious expression and ritual.

I disagree entirely with the hints that other reviewers have made here that Eliade was some kind of white supremacist -- Eliade was indeed, a fascist in his youth, with sympathies for Codrineau's Iron Guard -- but, there is not a trace of elitism or fascism in his work, latent or otherwise, and he writes with balance and the distanced, detached objectivity of a dedicated scholar. There is no proof at all that Eliade continued being a fascist after his youthful stage.

It is true that Eliade was friends with Julius Evola,who was certainly an elitist,and arguably a fascist -- but what does that prove ? Friendship with Evola makes Eliade a fascist ? Sorry, but that is absurd : indeed, Evola was also close friends with Triztan Tzara, a Jewish avant garde nihilist, Hugo Ball, a German avant gardist mystic anarchist and anti fascist, and Hulsuenbeck, a nihilist who despised fascists. So you see , being close to Evola does not make Eliade a fascist.

Why would a racial elitist fascist, if that is where you presume Eliade's "sympathies lie", then go on to devote his entire life to understanding the mysticism and ritual of non white peoples, from looking closely at the 'cosmos' of Arab Jews to the holistic one ness of Korean Shaman to the insights of Sri Lankan Buddhists and on to the visions of Manicheans and Sufis ?

Eliade was a man of great insight -- not a slow witted brown shirted jackbooted stiff armed deluded supremacist.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Apocatastatic Dynamic
I am a newcomer to the scholarship of Eliade, being referred to him, through lecture, only recently by the late Terence McKenna (who explicitly mentions the universally respected academic cornerstone "Shamanism") and Stephan Hoeller.In my initial interest for finding his works I was concerned with where to enter the massive corpus, having already a keen insight into the subjects of cultural and religious psychology (that is to say, their history).By reading a fair amount of reviews on the highly rated tomes, I came across one that mentions Eliade himself recommending this particular offering as a starting place to his brand of information; this a result of Eliade being asked--as he often was, apparently--basically, `Where would one begin with you?'Having that come straight from the source, it was simply a matter of placing my order (along with "Shamanism"), and embarking upon my studies in his stream of thought.

I could regale the reader with a long and involved report, but would rather say something more to the point: I cannot praise this book too much.It comes highly recommended to anyone interested in the main differences, psychologically speaking, between our distant "ahistorical" ancestors' (from across the globe) and our own "historicistic" modes of religious worship, social activity, and spiritual reconciliation to "time".Eliade touches upon the non-Jungian archetypes that comprise the tribal structure, and how actual events became interpreted mythologically (thus meaning nothing in themselves); how archaic man was clearly freer than we, his time-bound successors--freer to approach the deity, to appease the deity, to co-create with the deity, et cetera.He concludes with how and why such a disposition, such a world is no longer available to us, being culturally resigned to the temporal realms (via clocks, and other mundane, "profane" scheduling systems).Do not be fooled by the short length--these are considerably deep waters, if one is not well-versed in the material.Eliade is damn thorough, making an astounding number of references to groups and cultures, authors and works, that might not be at the forefront of your brain or tip of your tongue (his acumen is found to be quite impressive).Aside from reasonably sober expositions, Eliade lends himself to an immensely enjoyable and accessible reading--even inspiring in certain spots.Here is the perfect balance of scholarship and entertainment; for some this will reveal itself to be another piece of "the big puzzle", for others it will be a catalyst to starting that puzzle.Read it for fun, homework, inner-work, re-read it for clarification--whatever--the value is immeasurable.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fleeing The "Terror of History"
The provocative and persuasive book is a very interesting analysis of religous patterns aimed at insight into basic features of human psychology.Eliade presents humans as confronting the "terror of history," the basic facts of the irreversibility of events, the inevitable transience of human existence, and though the doesn't say so explicitly, the unavoidable fact of mortality.Eliade analyzes two ways which humans deal with this existential problem.One is the basic pattern of archaic religious thought in which there is an inevitable cycling of the cosmos with recurrent declines and regenerations of the world.The "real" world is not the quotidian reality of daily existence but a virtually platonic mythical world of the gods and heroes whose acts established the world.Through ritual and the identification of daily acts with myth, men participate in the mythic, "real" cosmos by recreating the actions of the founding heroes and gods.Against this background, Eliade suggests that the great monotheistic, salvationist religions introduce a new way of dealing with the terror by introducing a linear concept of sacred history that eliminates the cyclical nature of time, introduces God as the creator of contingent events, but makes existence bearable by guaranteeing the evenuation of a new creation and salvation of believers.At the same time, these salvationist religions include an individual relation with God, which in some ways recreates the whole of history, allowing present day believers to participate in the whole sequence.Eliade shrewdly extends this analysis to the great secular salvationist movement of the 20th century, Marxism.
Written well and based on examination of a great deal of scholarship, this is a persuasive analysis.An important criticism of Eliade is that he presents as universal what may be only common.In addition, these different modes of thought are not necessarily exclusive.

5-0 out of 5 stars Important work in its field
In this work, Eliade looks at patterns in comparative religion regarding cosmology, eschatology, and how archaic man saw time, history, and mythology.

While Eliade was clearly influenced to a small degree by Jung's work on archetypes, he has redefined the term and taken it to a new level.Jung regards archetypes as "primordial images," or at least primordial categories of images (a concept which owes as much to Kant as Plato), while Eliade sees them as exemplary patterns which archaic peoples immitate in their own actions.

Eliade examines these exemplary facets, and builds a picture not only of how archaic peoples viewed both the cosmos and history, but also how our ideas of modern history have developed against the traditional and cyclic ideas of time.This work is thus important for anyone trying to understand older, traditional cultures.

There are a few places where the translation could be improved ("Sanguinary civil wars?"Why does that give me an image of calm, smiling people hacking eachother to death?)

Overall, highly recommended. ... Read more

8. Yoga: Immortality and Freedom (Mythos: the Princeton/Bollingen Series in World Mythology)
by Mircea Eliade
Paperback: 568 Pages (2009-07-06)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$15.42
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Asin: 0691142033
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In this landmark book, first published in English in 1958, renowned scholar of religion Mircea Eliade lays the groundwork for a Western understanding of Yoga. Drawing on years of study and experience in India, Eliade provides a comprehensive survey of Yoga in theory and practice from its earliest antecedents in the Vedas through the twentieth century.

A new introduction by David Gordon White provides invaluable insight into Eliade's life and work, highlighting the key moments in Eliade's academic and spiritual education, as well as the personal experiences that shaped his worldview. Yoga is not only one of Eliade's most important books, it is also his most personal--the only one to analyze a religious tradition that he had truly lived.

... Read more

9. Hermeneutics, Politics, and the History of Religions: The Contested Legacies of Joachim Wach and Mircea Eliade
by Christian Wedemeyer, Wendy Doniger
Paperback: 368 Pages (2010-03-08)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$30.57
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Asin: 0195394348
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This volume comprises papers presented at a conference marking the 50th anniversary of Joachim Wach's death, and the centennial of Mircea Eliade's birth. Its purpose is to reconsider both the problematic, separate legacies of these two major twentieth-century historians of religions, and the bearing of these two legacies upon each other. Shortly after Wach's death in 1955, Eliade succeeded him as the premiere historian of religions at the University of Chicago. As a result, the two have been associated with each other in many people's minds as the successive leaders of the so-called "Chicago School" in the history of religions. In fact, as this volume makes clear, there never was a monolithic Chicago School. Although Wach reportedly referred to Eliade as the most astute historian of religions of the day; the two never met, and their approaches to the study of religions differed significantly. Several dominant issues run through the essays collected here: the relationship between the two men's writings and their lives, and in Eliade's case, the relationship between his political commitments and his writings in fiction, history of religions, and autobiography. Both men's contributions to the field continue to provoke controversy and debate, and this volume sheds new light on these controversies and what they reveal about these two `scholars' legacies. ... Read more

10. Patterns in Comparative Religion
by Mircea Eliade
Paperback: 484 Pages (1996-09-28)
list price: US$25.95 -- used & new: US$16.79
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Asin: 0803267339
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In this era of increased knowledge the essence of religious phenomena eludes the psychologists, sociologists, linguists, and other specialists because they do not study it as religious. According to Mircea Eliade, they miss the one irreducible element in religious phenomena—the element of the sacred. Eliade abundantly demonstrates universal religious experience and shows how humanity’s effort to live within a sacred sphere has manifested itself in myriad cultures from ancient to modern times; how certain beliefs, rituals, symbols, and myths have, with interesting variations, persisted.
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Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars a book that might still be read in a thousand years if people still read books
This book is a neat summation of a career, which, taken as a whole, was an amazing feat of a lifetime that will probably never be repeated again.Academia in Eliade's day was an agon of turbo charged minds who still possessed an elegant, old-style scholarly erudition.Thinking was the flower of a massive global system that could cull the best and brightest from hundreds of millions of Europeans and afford to keep them fed and comfortable, amidst enormous libraries with works collected from the biggest empires the world had known.But this discourse was still flush with confidence and hadn't yet passed into the closed, self-referential pedantry and nauseous over-specialization we often see today.

This time, furthermore, was one of tremendous discovery and enthusiasm over this entire world of religions that couldn't even have been imagined before.It was a time that was witnessing--well, the few who cared to notice were witnessing--the destruction of literally thousands of ancient traditions--ancient worlds.There was a palpable feeling that we had to learn from and save some glimmer of their meaning not only to preserve mankind's heritage, but also to, perhaps, learn the truths that would save us from ourselves.Something of the zeal of this quest in captured in "Youth Without Youth," a book and movie also to be highly recommended as a commentary on the pursuit that guided Eliade's life.

Eliade was one of the most Erudite thinkers in history, being familiar with the whole range of western sources from Homer and the bible to the latest results of phenomenological research, along with an admirable attention paid to the folk traditions of Europe.He had also read much of what was available from the entire rest of the world.The range of source material that Eliade had access to by his mastery of European and ancient languages was astounding.

In this book its almost like he has taken a whole truckload of source materials and anthropology books, drew a mind map of the contents on a five story tall white board, and then condensed the contents into the size of a single book.

5-0 out of 5 stars must-have book
this is a must-have book for everyone interested in mythology and religion. this book defines what religion was to ancient people, and what was considered sacred to them. it covers the structure of the sacred, the sky and sky gods, the sun and sun-worship, the moon, water and water symbolism, sacred stones(why they were considered sacred), the earth/woman/fertility connection, vegetation/regeneration, the axis mundi, agriculture and fertility cults, sacred places, sacred time, the function of myths, and the structure of symbols. in this book you will find what all religions and mythologies, from all over the world, have in common. you will find the roots of all religious beliefs in this book. it is definitely worth your time to read, again and again.

5-0 out of 5 stars great book
God keeps directing me to powerful knowledge.Nothing is new under the sun and all of it is of worth and value.This author goes the length to be as inclusive as possible.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, if rather dated
Mircea Eliade's contribution to the study of religion cannot be overestimated; his works quite simply revolutionized the discipline.Unfortunately, he had a tendency, especially in later life, to crank out volumes on every conceivable theme and concept, and many of these later works simply do not work.But he wrote a small number of great books, works without which you simply cannot claim to have read the "classics."Patterns is one of these great books.

The translation is dubious, to the say the least, but even so Eliade comes through.He always does.In Patterns, he walks through a kaleidoscope of images and concepts, demonstrating at once his brilliance and his disturbingly broad reading.He never uses one example where ten will serve, and this becomes part of the whole argumentative structure of the book.

The point, you see, is that these "patterns" he pulls out-out of history, out of context, whatever-appear again and again.The opening chapter, on "Sky Gods," for example, is a little manifesto, a demonstration of everything Eliade is all about.If you really master this chapter, come to understand every bit of how it works, you will truly understand Eliade.

For those who have been introduced to Eliade through The Sacred and the Profane, for example, and are looking for an accessible book, Patterns does have the difficulty of moving rather rapidly through its arguments.Some discussions simply move too fast for the general reader; Eliade is trying to talk primarily to scholars, and as such he assumes that his readers have some familiarity with his examples.But unless you plan to challenge his thought deeply, you simply do not need to read all of the background material.

One failing of Patterns is simply its publication date: this book is from the fifties.And a lot has changed since then, particularly our knowledge of lots of other religions.So sometimes his examples seem simplistic, or downright dubious-and they are!But you just can't begin to make sense of Eliade without Patterns.

If you liked Joseph Campbell, it's time to step up to the plate.Read Patterns, maybe reading Cosmos and History and The Sacred and the Profane first, and you'll see the real thing at work.It's true, he doesn't really address his audience magnetically as Campbell sometimes does, but then his project is primarily to suggest to that reading and studying other people's religions is the only way for moderns.You see, desacralization has made modern humanity incapable of seeing the truly powerful worldview of homo religiosus (religious humanity).But unlike Campbell, Eliade doesn't think that we can solve this by getting in touch with our bliss and our myths; he thinks that only reading books can approximate this world.

Admittedly, from a scholarly perspective Eliade is a crypto-theologian with a huge axe to grind.Sure, some of his examples are extremely problematic-a point that Jonathan Z. Smith has made on more than one occasion.But like Smith, I'd argue that we need to go through, not around: without Eliade, we can never really make sense of how we look at religion now, how everyone looks at it.

The point about Patterns is that it's really a great book.It's wrong-about just about everything, when you get down to it!-but it's one that needs to be read.These days, lots of folks in and out of the Ivory Tower seem to want to get in touch with spirituality.But Eliade was talking about this fifty years ago, and his points still have considerable weight.Why reinvent the wheel?Go to the source, read Eliade at his best, and feel a revolution overtaking you.

5-0 out of 5 stars Eliade's best book, and the best introduction to his work.
Eliade's place among scholars of religion is unequaled; even his detractors admit this. "Comparative Religion" exists as a scholarly discipline because of Eliade.

Essentially, this is a book about religious symbolism, covering an incredibly wide range of religious traditions. I think if you read this, agree or disagree, you will never look at religions the same way again.

Further, this is Eliade's most accessible and complete book.

I graduated with a religious studies degree from Yale University, and read this book in the first year after I graduated. I learned nearly as much from this book alone as I did from my undergraduate education. That is a strong statement, but I mean it. ... Read more

11. The Eliade Guide to World Religions
by Mircea Eliade, Ioan P. Culianu, Hillary S. Wiesner
Hardcover: 320 Pages (1991-12)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$57.08
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Asin: 0060621451
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This guide to the world's religions, past and present, distills Eliade's three-volume History of Religious Ideas and sixteen-volume Encyclopedia of Religion into one up-to-date and accessible volume. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Reliable, in-depth resource on world religions
A reference book on religions that is readable and even compelling. The detail on backgrounds and structural formats of 33 religious traditions helps the reader to begin developing a comprehensive view of worldreligions. The utter complexity of the subject needs a resource such asthis book once a person begins to get elementary details in mind. To seereligions "in the light of day" enables a person to makes onesown decision in an informed manner. ... Read more

12. Essential Sacred Writings From Around the World
by Mircea Eliade
 Paperback: 645 Pages (1991-12-20)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$9.99
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Asin: 0062503049
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This comprehensive anthology contains writings vital to all the major non-Western religious traditions, arranged thematically. It includes colourful descriptions of deities, creation myths, depictions of death and the afterlife, teachings on the relationship between humanity and the sacred, religious rituals and practices, and prayers and hymns.Mircea Eliade, a recognized pioneer in the systematic study of the history of the world’s religions, includes excerpts from the Quran, the Book of the Dead, the Rig Veda, the Bhagavad Gita, the Homeric Hymns, and the Popol Vuh, to name just a few. Oral accounts from Native American, African, Maori, Australian Aborigine, and other people are also included. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great read
Not exhaustive by any means, but if you are looking to read sacred texts from many different religions, then this is a fabulous overview. A little from here, a little from there...it can help to give a person a general idea of what was taught and help a reader to know what they may be interested in looking into further. This book is sizable too, you get your money's worth without a doubt.

3-0 out of 5 stars A quality anthology of non-Western religious texts
Mircea Eliade, the former professor from the University of Chicago, who was well known for his research on Shamanism, selected some of the basic sources from various traditions to present a solid introduction into the world's sacred writings. The book is not meant to be exhaustive, nor does it include any commentary by the great scholar - rather it is a resource of texts to enable research, study or simply the casual reading of these non-Western traditions.Eliade initially compiled this work to be used in his classes.A good source for students of philosophy and anthropology. ... Read more

13. Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (Bollingen Series)
by Mircea Eliade
Paperback: 648 Pages (2004-01-19)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$18.68
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Asin: 0691119422
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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First published in 1951, Shamanism soon became the standard work in the study of this mysterious and fascinating phenomenon. Writing as the founder of the modern study of the history of religion, Romanian émigré--scholar Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) surveys the practice of Shamanism over two and a half millennia of human history, moving from the Shamanic traditions of Siberia and Central Asia--where Shamanism was first observed--to North and South America, Indonesia, Tibet, China, and beyond. In this authoritative survey, Eliade illuminates the magico-religious life of societies that give primacy of place to the figure of the Shaman--at once magician and medicine man, healer and miracle-doer, priest, mystic, and poet. Synthesizing the approaches of psychology, sociology, and ethnology, Shamanism will remain for years to come the reference book of choice for those intrigued by this practice. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (30)

5-0 out of 5 stars Eliade's Classic Text
Steven B. Herrmann, PhD, MFT
Author of "Walt Whitman: Shamanism, Spiritual Democracy, and the World Soul."

This is, without doubt, the classic textbook on shamanism. As Eliade clearly points out, the history of religious ideas distinguishes between three categories or types of initiation to mark the transition from childhood to adolescence.The first type of initiation, he asserts, is "obligatory": the "puberty rite," or "initiation into an age group."The second initiation-type leads to incorporation into a "secret society." The third, initiation-type has to do with the vocation of the "medicine man," medicine woman or "shaman," the most intense form of initiation known to man, and this level, he says, is not typically available to the rest of the human community (1958, 3). Moreover, the pre-ecstatic euphoria of the shaman constitutes the universal source of "lyric poetry" and provides the spiritual inspiration for the mystics of the East and West. The experience of Ecstasy often leads the shaman to song, a secret language, from which the allegorical words of the mystics and prophets of all cultures later crystallized (Shamanism, 511). What distinguishes shamanic initiation from the "lesser" initiation-types, Eliade asserts, is the emotion of Ecstasy. In this work Eliade is in a category of his own, with what would appear, from what I have read, to be few if any real competitors. I have read this book several times and each time I read it, I learn more and more. He illuminates the pattern of initiation at its most fundamental level. This is no leisurely read. It is scholarly and informs many sources. Many of the best works on shamanism, in the second half of the twentieth century, have drawn on this book as their central inspiration. Not all of the data from Siberia, India, the Far East, Polynesia, Europe, and Central and North America, is developed theoretically and could indeed be taken further, as many of his ideas have. Take for example what Eliade has to say about "quartz crystals," or "spirit possession," or this nugget from his "Epilogue," where he ends by saying that "shamans have played an essential role in the defense of the psychic integrity of the community," and adds that they are "preeminently the antidemonic champions; they combat not only disease, but also the black magicians" (508).All of these passages can be amplified and extended in a psychological, spiritual, or sociological direction to explain what takes place in culture and in the culture of depth-psychology and individual analysis. Anyone interested in shamanism would be wise to begin here.Many of C. G. Jung's late comments on shamanism were taken from this source. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I keep it on my writing desk as a companion.

5-0 out of 5 stars Essential for anyone interested in art history, culture, anthropology, psychology and more.
Few books of cultural and religious history are classics. Shamanism Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy by Romanian religious historian, Mircea Eliade (1907-1986), draws its timelessness from both its passionate and dispassionate nature. Eliade describes the phenomena of shamanism and surveys the practice of shamanism over two and a half millennia of human history, moving from the Shamanic traditions of Siberia and Central Asia, to North and South America, China, Indonesia, and Tibet.
Eliade describes the function of the shaman in world cultures with detachment and objectivity.In the exhaustive, magnificently organized volume his passion for the subject is obvious. To study it is to understand the unpinning of religion, art, theater, psychology and anthology and much more.If you are interested in any of these, this book must be on your shelf.

5-0 out of 5 stars Solid Work on Religious Basis of Shamanism
I'm not sure why indie musicians are, by and large, such uninteresting people.Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they all think that they are interesting people and therefore spend no time learning about new things or thinking about new ways to make themselves interesting to others.It's not like everyone has to be interesting: I don't expect a gas station attendant to engage me in sparkling conversation, but it seems that if one is going to create art/culture that this person would go out of their way to learn about new things, try new experiences, etc.Such is clearly NOT the case, here in San Diego, or anywhere else, for that matter. The indie music world often seems about as interesting to me as junior high.I don't have any truck with the social world of junior high, with it's cliques and posturing, but, simply put, it's a boring world.It's the same thing with the indie music world:Like junior high, but with bands.

I was super excited to read Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy after seeing the citation in the Shape of Ancient Thought.I was even more excited when I realized that Wendy Doniger, my favorite scholar/professor, was mentored by this guy (Mircea Eliade is a Romanian, and a man, not a chick.)Shamanism was originally published in English (from the French) in 1951, but the book I have is a 2004 re-print with a new foreword by Doniger.Eliade's scholarship is a leetle out of date 50 years on, but that doesn't detract from the fact that this book was the first comprehensive approach to Shamanism that treated it as something other then a "degraded" "uncivilized" object of scorn.In fact, Shamanism appears to be the basis of all religious thought everywhere, showing up not only in the civilized religions of the Near East, West and East, but also in the indigenious peoples of Australia, New Guinea, Polynesia and North and South American.Shamanism is the closest things humans have to a "universal" religion prior to the emergence of the great world religions of Christianity, Islam and Buddhism (sorry Hindus!!!!)

So what is Shamanism?Eliade defines Shamanism as religious practice governed by the reaching of non-conscious ecstatic states by the Shaman.During this state, the Shaman travels to the sky or the underworld and rescues the souls of the sick/ill etc.That is Shamanism in a nut shell, but it's the description of the ritual ascents and descents that I found most interesting.I don't want to spoil the joys of the world tree, the soul egg and the bridge for those who might actually read this book, but suffice it to say that Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, contains enough food for thought to keep the reader thinking for months.Also, all the quoted sources are in Russian or German, so you don't have to worry about follow up reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very detailed.
This book is very detailed about shamanism in all parts of the world and it is very dry, but very informative.

5-0 out of 5 stars Shamanism:Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy
Extremely dry, Eliade's book also suffers from a certain tendency to overgeneralize. Nonetheless it remains the most authoritative work on shamanism overall. ... Read more

14. Occultism, Witchcraft, and Cultural Fashions: Essays in Comparative Religions
by Mircea Eliade
Paperback: 158 Pages (1978-03-15)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$4.00
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Asin: 0226203921
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In the period domoninated by the triumphs of scientific rationalism, how do we account for the extraordinary success of such occult movements as astrology or the revival of witchcraft? From his perspective as a historian of religions, the eminent scholar Mircea Eliade shows that such popular trends develop from archaic roots and periodically resurface in certain myths, symbols, and rituals. In six lucid essays collected for this volume, Eliade reveals the profound religious significance that lies at the heart of many contemporary cultural vogues.

Since all of the essays except the last were originally delivered as lectures, their introductory character and lively oral style make them particularly accessible to the intelligent nonspecialist. Rather than a popularization, Occultism, Witchcraft, and Cultural Fashions is the fulfillment of Eliade's conviction that the history of religions should be read by the widest possible audience.
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4-0 out of 5 stars Enligtening
I am writing on a paper on satanism in Norway(therefore badly written english). This essyes from good old Mirca, is a good phenomenological point of wiew. I think he sets things into context, but for my case it is a bitold. If you want a general introduction from the phenomenlogical school inthe occult tradiction you migth as well staert with this book. ... Read more

15. The Two and the One (A Phoenix book)
by Mircea Eliade
 Paperback: 223 Pages (1979-09)
list price: US$10.00
Isbn: 0226203891
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16. Shamanism - Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy
by Mircea Eliade
Paperback: Pages (1974)

Asin: B001YUVZSG
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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5-0 out of 5 stars absolutely fascinating and still relevant
It's great to read a scholarly study of shamanism that is neither dismissive of "primitive" cultures nor tainted with new age credulity.
610 pages, indexed. Chapter headings include:
Recruiting methods, shamanism and mystical vocation
Initiatory sickness and dreams
Obtaining shamanic powers
shamanic initiation
Symbolism of the shaman's costume and drum
Shamanism in Central and North Asia: Celestial ascents. Descents to the underworld
Magical cures
Shamanism in North and South America
Southeast Asian And Oceanian shamanism
Shamanic Ideologies and techniques among Indo-Europeans
Shamanic symbolisms and techniques in Tibet, china, and the Far East
Parallel myths, symbols, and rites
Conclusions, Epilogue, List of works cited ... Read more

17. Journal II, 1957-1969 (v. 2)
by Mircea Eliade
Paperback: 362 Pages (1989-10-17)
list price: US$17.00
Isbn: 0226204138
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Mircea Eliade's journal of the years 1957-1969, originally published in English under the title No Souvenirs, is the testimony of a "wandering scholar" caught between three worlds: his native Romania, the France he fled to, and his last homeland, the United States. The journal is filled with his work, dreams, memories of his youth, stories of his travels, the reflections of each day.
... Read more

18. Images and Symbols
by Mircea Eliade
Paperback: 192 Pages (1991-06-05)
list price: US$22.95 -- used & new: US$14.45
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Asin: 069102068X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Mircea Eliade--one of the most renowned expositors of the psychology of religion, mythology, and magic--shows that myth and symbol constitute a mode of thought that not only came before that of discursive and logical reasoning, but is still an essential function of human consciousness. He describes and analyzes some of the most powerful and ubiquitous symbols that have ruled the mythological thinking of East and West in many times and at many levels of cultural development. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Towards a new humanism
This insightful book features a central element of Eliade's work as a whole: a humanistic impulse which envisions the study of symbols as the best possible way to overcome close-mindedness and provincialism, and which holds that a liberation from the traps of historicism is necessary in order to reach the archetypes that somehow inform the multiple 'symbolic incarnations' throughout the ages and peoples. Eliade here considers symbols of centre, time, binding (relying a lot on Dumezil on that topic), waters and shells. The relationship between symbol and history is constantly examined in the book: Eliade suggests that each new meaning ascribed by history to a symbol does not alter the latter's fundamental structure, since the symbol can properly be considered 'transhistorical'. This is as good a work as any to start reading Eliade; many quintessential Eliadian themes are treated here. ... Read more

19. Two Strange Tales
by Mircea Eliade
Paperback: 144 Pages (2001-05-01)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$10.21
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Asin: 1570626634
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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So speaks a character in Two Strange Tales, a pair of novellas in which Westerners are caught up in the uncanny realm of Eastern religion and magic. In "Nights at Serampore, " three European scholars, traveling deep in the forests of Bengal, are inexplicably cast into another time and space where they witness the violent murder of a young Hindu wife. In "The Secret of Dr. Honigberger, " a respectable Rumanian physician vanishes without a trace after experimenting with yogic techniques in his quest for the legendary invisible world called Shambhala. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars But no event in our world is real, my friend.
I consider this book to be a rare little serendipitous gem. I had no idea that such an important scholar of comparative religion as Eliade wrote fiction. Nor was his writing of literature fantastique simply a hobby, a diversion from his more serious pursuits. In the introduction that he wrote himself for this edition he states that some things are best expressed by incorporating them into a narrative. There are some nonordinary states whose subtle character can only be understood by experiencing them, or at least vicariously experiencing them by identification with the characters in a work of fiction.

Both stories in this book deal with the transcendence of the ordinary perception of space and time. In the first, three Europeans in colonial India find themselves involuntarily drawn through time by the operations of another. The second is the account of a scholar who learned to transcend time and space through the study of yoga- following the path of another learned doctor who went before him. Both tales weave a most believable atmosphere, but this is understandable given that many of the characters and concepts are rooted in historical fact. At no time do you feel that this book was written simply to be sensational for its own sake, in order to make a dollar.

You come away from a book like this either questioning whether anything in the ordinary world is real, or perhaps confirmed in your own personal experiences about the nature of "reality."

"I have always divided people into two categories: those who understand death as an end to life and the body, and those who conceive it as the beginning of a new, spiritual existence. And I never form an opinion of any man I meet until I have learned his honest belief about death. Otherwise I might be deceived by high intelligence and dazzling charm."

5-0 out of 5 stars Two Great Tales
I have read several of Eliade's books on religion, and I was surprised that he wrote fiction.Both stories are great, and they play upon themes covered in his scholarly works, e.g., sacred time and space.His academic works can be difficult to fully understand, the fiction helps to clarify and give new dimensions to his scholarly themes.

If you are not familiar with his other works--that is not a problem (and perhaps a positive) because you will not be deflected from the quality of the fiction itself (which is superb). If you like a pre WWII fantastic/fantasy style, you willfind Two Tales to be a fast and enjoyable read.

5-0 out of 5 stars For seekers of real mystery, truth,...and thrill.
This book contains two extraordinarily vivid and dramatic stories. The first one, "Night at Serampore", describes an episode (probably containing some amount of autobiographical experience) involving some strange kind of time travel or "fall into the past" whereby one night while staying as a guest in an old rural indian mansion the main protagonist becomes in most misterious circumstances an involuntarywitness to long past events.This extraordinary experience could seemingly be due,as the story tends to suggest, to the influence of advanced tantric meditators who presumably had been involved that same night in some kind of secret powerful yogic-tantric rituals in a nearby area...
The second story, "The Secret of Dr. Honigsberger" is based on a real character, an indologist scholar who dissappeared in somewhat mysterious circumstances quite a long time ago. Eliade takes this fact as a starting point for a most thrilling story narrating the experience of a student that is called by Dr. Honigsberger's widow in order to review and order the personal notes and papers left by her late husband in the hope of finding some clues regarding his dissapearance. The facts given by the story indicate that the dissapearance had taken place quite some time ago in the scholar'sown house and in unexplainable circumstances. ...The rest is a masterful narration of amost exciting investigation dealing with occult yogic practices in a haunting environment... As to the real Dr. Honigsberger, there are some hints about this most curious event in a book containing a long interview to Eliade whose exact title in the english version I can't recall but that probably goes as "The Test of the Labyrinth",...or something close to this.
It is important to note thatboth stories contain serious and authoritative information and details concerning yogic practices. After all, we must keep in mind that Mircea Eliade was a top world authority in the History of Religions and a most knowledgeable expert in Indian Religion. Must be read by those who search for the mysterious and extraordinary,...and for good and well documented literature as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Powerful, Mystical Experience
Probably one of the best books I've read. The two stories are in the pre-war tradition of fantastical literature, along the lines of THE STRANGE LIFE OF IVAN OSOKIN, by P. D. Ouspensky, and THE MASTER OF THE DAY OFJUDGMENT, by Leo Perutz. To be honest, I read the book about 10 years ago,so I can only write in general terms. The first tale, "Nights atSerampore," set in and around the town of Serampore, India, in the1930s, describes the unsettling and life-changing experiences of a Europeanstudent while visiting a friend in an isolated forest near the town. Afterencountering his University professor, a reputed magician, mysteriouslywandering along the road at night, he sees and hears things that ordinarilywould be considered impossible. These experiences teach him a lesson inHindu mysticism and magic (as well as the possible true nature ofexistence) that leave an indelible stamp on his memory.

The other tale,whose title now escapes me, addresses a similar subject -- the notion thatthings are not what they seem, that there is another reality beyond thepale of what we usually consider "normal." It describes theexperience of a young man, a student of the occult, if I remembercorrectly, who gains access to a vast library of occult books, formerlyowned by a doctor who had spent time traveling and studying in China beforehe mysteriously disappeared. In the course of his research the young manstumbles across the doctor's journal; after reading a chilling account ofthe doctor's experiments with Oriental occultism and of his seeminglyimpossible fate, the young man learns more about the power of magic than hewished to know.

In this age of excessive materialism and forcedpragmatism, these TWO STRANGE TALES are heartily recommended. ... Read more

20. Autobiography, Volume 1: 1907-1937, Journey East, Journey West
by Mircea Eliade
Paperback: 347 Pages (1990-01-16)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$43.00
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Asin: 0226204073
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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"Here finally are Eliade's memoirs of the first thirty years of his life in Mac Linscott Rickett's crisp and lucid English translation. They present a fascinating account of the early development of a Renaissance talent, expressed in everything from daily and periodical journalism, realistic and fantastic fiction, and general nonfiction works to distinguished contributions to the history of religions. Autobiography follows an apparently amazingly candid report of this remarkable man's progression from a mischievous street urchin and literary prodigy, through his various love affairs, a decisive and traumatic Indian sojourn, and active, brilliant participation in pre-World War II Romanian cultural life."—Seymour Cain, Religious Studies Review
... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Some information about Mircea's first love in India
Mircea's first love in India (Amrita/Amruta, penname "maitrayi devi"--who died on January 4, 1990) had published her own memoir in Bengali (her mothertongue and one of the principal language of India). The title of her book is "Na Hanyate" which means "It does not die". It is a fairly intense memoir showing her impression and the spiritual implication. I am not sure if the book is translated in English or not. I was impressed by her candor and honesty. In 1976, her book received an award from the "sahitya academy" (academy for litrature) in India. I have tried to supply some information that was missing from Mircea'a autobiography. I hope the readers will find this information useful.

4-0 out of 5 stars About both volumes of the autobiography
Mircea Eliade is a maniac: He read about a book each night. He trained himself to sleep less and less, so that he could learn in the night. That paid well in terms of producing a knowledge which has seldomly been reachedby a historian of religion. He especially knew about similar things in verydifferent religions, so that he saw parallels, where nobody thought aboutit before. He wrote novels as well as religios history books, including thewell known "Yoga, Immortality and Freedom".

This autobiographycovers the most interesting part of his life, but does not make it to theend, which has the effect, that no one knows, what happend, when the woman,he loved in India visited him later in life in Chicago. That's quite astory, because of who the woman was and because of the shaking novel aboutthe affair. The biography covers his Romanian time and the time in India.He writes very openly not hiding unpleasant things. He tried both, tounderstand indian religions and to live it. The science he did, but tryingto live it with Dasgupta and within the Shivananda ashram, both ended instories with women. With Dasgupta he was to study, but also he wanted tolive like a hindu and in the ashram he wanted to practice yoga. Later hebecame a professor of history of religion at the university of Chicago.It's now some time, since I read this biography and my comments are notpropperly weighted, but I can still say, that Eliade was a fascinatingperson and did good writing and he knew nearly everything. (Just to say:English is a foreign language to me, so please forgive mistakes) ... Read more

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