The Forbidden Book, a novel by Joscelyn Godwin and Guido Mina di Sospiro, was already topical in 2007, when the first of its nine editions in different languages first appeared. Islamic terrorism and immigration to Western Europe were stirring a nativist reaction which has since grown exponentially. In the book, the sinister character of Baron Emanuele della Riviera takes matters into his own hands. A few readers would have instantly recognized the Baron as modeled on Julius Evola, equally famous as a Traditionalist philosopher, an extreme right-wing political theorist, and an authority on magic and the occult. In the book, Della Riviera gathers a group of susceptible young men, educates them in his philosophical principles, then sends them out as counter-terrorists. He also influence his disciples through practices of sexual magic: something on which Evola was also an authority, though the descriptions in The Forbidden Book are purely imaginary.
Ten years later, Evola’s influence has come out of the closet. On February 10, 2017, the New York Times carried an article by Jason Horowitz, “Steve Bannon Cited Italian Thinker Who Inspired Fascists.” For the first time, Evola’s name has passed under the eyes of millions of American readers. They learnt that his political ideas, long favored by the European “alternative right,” may now be haunting the Oval Office. Evola’s influence is also felt at a high political level in Russia, thanks to the philosopher Alexander Dugin, an enthusiast for Evolian and Eurasian ideas whom rumor places close to President Putin’s ear.
Meanwhile the situation in Europe has not diminished, but intensified. The action in The Forbidden Book begins with a terrorist attack on Bologna Cathedral, because of its “blasphemous” images of Mohammed. This determines the Baron to counter it by his own means, which he justifies in words virtually borrowed from Evola. But is violence best cured by more violence? The many layers of this thriller—philosophical, social-comedic, magical, and political—will not only entertain, but educate the reader in both the opportunities and the dangers of a rising trend.
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