I don’t believe Mircea Eliade’s review of Julius Evola’s Revolt against the Modern World is available in English. It was originally published in the Romanian journal Vremea, VIII, n. 382, Bucarest, 31 March 1935. Eliade would go on to become a world-renowned historian of religion from his position at the University of Chicago. His books are essential reading, although they are not written from the Traditional point of view, but rather intended for a general audience. Nevertheless, he corresponded with Evola and was involved with Tradition and what is now called “far right” politics. This should be obvious from the authors he recommends in this review. As we have pointed out, his position is what well-bred men considered sane and normal prior to the French Revolution. As Galileo insisted about the earth, “yet it moves”, what used to be the far left is now considered sane and normal. Humanity has “evolved”, except for what remains of well-bred men.
Eliade’s review follows. We see he overrated Rosenberg, who is now forgotten, and underrated Evola, who was ahead of his time.
This [Revolt against the Modern World] is the title of Julius Evola’s latest book. Julius Evola is an author too little known beyond the Italian border. In Germany, a short time ago, another of his books, Heidnischer Imperialismus, was translated, a modified and, above all, politicized, version of his work Imperialismo Pagano. In France, I don’t believe that there is anyone besides Rene Guenon who cites or reviews his books. Nevertheless, Evola is one of the most interesting minds of the war [WW I] generation. Revolt can be compared—for its historical vision and courageous interpretation—to books like Spengler’s Decline of the West or Rosenberg’s Myth of the 20th Century, even if it will not have by far the same echo of those two books. Everything contributes to Evola’s isolation in the field of thought and modern culture: the rigour of his philosophical analysis, his critical spirit, and the courage that he has in supporting a “traditional” science that is opposed to fragmented, atomized, secular science.
Evola is ignored by specialists because he goes beyond their mental schemes. He is inaccessible to dilettantes, because he has recourse to a truly prodigious erudition, and at the same time does not make any concession to the presentation of his ideas (it is a way of saying why Evola has no ideas that are his “own”).
He made his debut with very serious philosophical studies on Idealism. On the other hand, his philosophical formation was recognized even by specialists, and his fundamental work—Theory and Phenomenology of the Absolute Individual—is the most serious book on Magical Idealism that had been written up until now. Moving from philosophy to culture and social criticism, Evola always gave proof of a sense of direction and of a unity of a typically Italian attitude. Evola’s view is simple: in this view, that no ideology has adopted, he affirms and reaffirms “traditional” values. With this term, nevertheless, he means every value created by a civilization that does not make life an end in itself, but considers that human existence is uniquely a means to reach a spiritual, transcendent reality. Evola never exposed more completely and with more fervor what thing this “traditionalism” means as much as in Revolt. We recommend this book to all those who wish, if not to go back to old questions, at least to contemplate an explanation of the world and history of a fascinating greatness.
Similar works can be read in very numerous ways: by people ready to accept everything at their own risk and danger, or to refute everything in the same way; but also by persons ready to receive suggestions from wherever they come from, and who are enthusiastic in being able to verify them in any circumstances.
We can say that Evola’s work is situated in the cultural lines of Gobineau, Chamberlain, Spengler, Rosenberg. With much more “seriousness”, however—as paradoxical that this affirmation can seem—, Evola has not forgotten and has not renounced his earlier mentioned studies: he is more “philosopher”, but rather in a totally unusual way. Magical Idealism brought to its extreme limits is a meal difficult to digest. It is not part of our intentions to bring up this book, that is both anti-Christian and anti-political at the same time, as well as opposed to communists and fascists, that denies a great quantity of living things and values that today crush us, affirming only “dead” things and values which no one in our times believes in any longer. Evola does not come under any influence. This is what makes him sympathetic. As to the resonance of his thought in Romania it must be remembered that I published a long article on his work at the end of 1927, while in 1928 I developed a study on his magical philosophy, which remains a manuscript [this is apparently lost]. Later the only one that he mentioned by name, in our country, was, in 1933, our colleague Vasile Lovinescu.