Note: After the attempted insurrection — a “putsch,” as one ABC News commentator called it — at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. two days ago, I felt it was necessary to post the following material. OriginallyI had planned to save this section for the manuscript I have very slowly been working on over the last severalyears. But since I am already engrossed in a different manuscript project — one that actually has a publishing contract and, thus, a hard deadline — due to its timeliness I felt compelled to post it here instead.
Adolf Hitler and his Nazi associates, including this article’s subject, Alfred Rosenberg, perpetrated in Munich in November of 1923 an armed, attempted coup. Later, this event would become known as the “Beer Hall Putsch.” Before it could be put down, 16 Nazi Party members and four police officers had died. Though it failed, many historians point to it as the start of the rise of the Nazis’ genocidal, fascist regime.
ROSENBERG, Alfred (1893-1946), The Myth of the Twentieth Century: An Evaluation of the Spiritual-intellectual Confrontations of Our Age. Translated from the German to English by Vivian Bird (1st English ed.). Torrance, CA: Noontide Press, 1982.
Additional notes/condemnations: Also see STROOTHENKE, Wolfgang (1913-1945), Erbpflege und Christentum; Fragen der Sterilisation, Aufnordung, Euthanasie, Ehe. Mit einem Geleitwort von Fritz Lenz. Leipzig: L. Klotz, 1940. Condemned: February 19, 1941.
§2: Books including any heresy or schism attempting to destroy religious orthodoxy;
§3: Books that attempt to attack religion or good morals;
§4: Books by non-Catholics dealing in any way with religion (unless in total agreement with Catholic dogma);
§5: Books and booklets including mention of any new appearances [of saints or other divine spirits], revelations, visions, prophecies, and miracles, even under the pretext of private publication;
§6: Books that scorn or ridicule the Church or Catholic dogma in any way;
§7: Books engaged in any kind of superstition, fortune-telling, magic, spirit-conjuring, or other similar occult topics.
I am happy to report, however, that during the last three months’ hiatus I’ve been busy working on the longer-term version (and vision) of this project. I’ve been developing the draft manuscript that will, with luck, someday become a full-length book. This work has been concentrated mostly within my week-long research visits to the Houghton Library and the Harvard University Library system in general since July of last year. With those resources and the (so far) three weeks of dedicated time for reading, outlining, and writing, I feel confident that I am now well on my way.
If you’ve missed my posts on the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Blog related to the first two of these trips, see July’s here and October’s here. The post for my most recent trip, January 20-27, 2019, will be posted shortly at the same location (see my Instagram account linked above for a few photos and notes). My final week at Harvard will most likely take place this upcoming May or June.
As a bit of a preview, below is an outline of the annotated bibliography section of my current draft outline — the “Bibliography of the Damned” itself. These 46 author entries correspond with four chronological categories…with a twist for the fifth that you’ll have to wait for the book to find out the meaning of. Mystery!
Also: This outline is subject to change.
Part III: A Bibliography of the Damned
Circa 1600 to 1700
COPERNICUS, Nicolaus (Micołaj Kopernik)
SPINOZA, Baruch (Benedictus de)
1700 to 1800
VOLTAIRE (François-Marie Arouet)
1800 to 1900
CASANOVA (Giacomo Girolamo Casanova de Seignault)
MORGAN, Lady Sydney Owenson
SAND, George (Amandine Lucile Aurore Dupin)
STENDHAL (Marie-Henri Beyle)
1900 to 1966
BEAUVOIR, Simone de
SULLIVAN, William Lawrence
UNAMUNO, Miguel de
Works out of Time
JULIANUS AUGUSTUS, Flavius Claudius (Julian the Apostate)
Meet Joseph Martin McCabe (1867-1955), a mostly forgotten giant of Rationalism and scholarly criticism of the Catholic Church and its policies (among many other topics). The majority of his copious output was published during the 1920s and ’30s by the Haldeman-Julius Company of Girard, Kansas.
In a previous life, McCabe had been a Catholic monk. At the age of 29, however, the once pious and obedient man of God started on the path to becoming a crusader for reason and humanism. He dedicated the remainder of his life to understanding why humans are the way we are through the prism of our recorded history.
The life-story of McCabe begins with a fight for freedom; it continues as a campaign to keep life free. Ever since that fateful Ash Wednesday of 1896, when he tore off the brown robe and flung aside the sandals that he had worn for 12 years, abandoning the life of a monk and his title as ‘The Very Reverend Father Antony,’ he has dedicated himself to the service of human liberation. (1936: Ch. II)
McCabe’s life, then, is one of two diametrically opposed eras: before and after his departure from the Church. Once he renounced the priesthood and Christianity/theism in general, he dedicated the entirety of the rest of his life to revealing hypocrisy not only in the Catholic Church, but in any and all entrenched or otherwise sacrosanct institutions. But even more than that, his liberation and affiliation with Haldeman-Julius allowed him to study and explicate scores of subjects, from the history of the popes to the theory of evolution.
I ended up quoting the following passage in the resulting research paper (also cited elsewhere on this site):
I do not mean that the Index has made no progress since the days when the Popes and cardinals and monks were so rudely disturbed in their prayers and amours by the Lutheran earthquake…The legendary wizard Merlin is no longer represented as an author from whose books we need to be protected by a sage authority. (1931: 5, “Introduction: The Stupidity of the Index”)
This short book achieves the impressive feat of being both academically scathing and, at regular intervals, pretty funny. It was also the first text I found from before 1966 (the year the Index was abolished) that seemed wholly free from fear or bias.
McCabe employs the dry wit of a northern Englishman (he was of half Irish descent and grew up in Manchester) to eviscerate any apologists’ claims that the Vatican was justified in its fervent suppression of intellectual freedom. “[A]ny attempt to defend the Index in our time on the pretext that the Church is still protecting souls from eternal damnation,” he writes, “…ought at once…be denounced as a moral and intellectual outrage” (11). He argues that the ultimate reasons behind the Index, its legislation, and Congregation were plain and simple: to stanch the flow of any literate or semi-literate Catholic faithful into apostasy, or worse: Protestantism. In this sense, the Index as a subset of the Inquisition is made clear.
What’s most powerful herein is McCabe’s detailing of the effects that the Index/Inquisition had on literature and the culture in general in the Catholic countries of Europe, and in Spain (and Portugal) in particular. “There is no need to speak of literature in Spain,” he explains. “After the seventeenth century there were ‘two centuries of comparative silence’…” (40). Publishing houses and booksellers in other countries, such as Belgium, he relates, were subject to constant raids and searches by agents of their local dioceses.
The End of an Era
On the last page of his short yet dense treatise, McCabe made a prediction, perhaps uncanny, but to him self-evident:
The only real interest of the Index is that it reminds the world of the heavy and paralyzing tyranny which Rome laid upon thought in half of Europe for three centuries, in the sole interest of the Church, over the mind of their followers today… It will be abolished in the course of the present century, as the Inquisition was abolished in the last century. (107)
It would only take another thirty-five years for this to come true. In the meantime, none of McCabe’s many works ever found its way onto the Index. I am fairly certain that, at least on some level, this came as somewhat of a disappointment to the man.
I just wanted to take the opportunity to officially announce on this site that, starting in July, Bibliography of the Damned will be supported in part by a public fellowship grant from Harvard University’s Houghton Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Specifically, I was awarded the Houghton Mifflin Visiting Fellowship in Publishing History.