Return from Oblivion: Joséphin Péladan’s Literary Esotericism
Joséphin Péladan (1858–1918) was a key figure in the development of French symbolism. The author of over a hundred novels and monographs, his work represents a unique, eclectic attempt to use art and literature as a vehicle for esoteric transformation, with strong elements of early modernist thought. Identified as possibly the largest single body of ‘literary esotericism’, his work has, until recently, been poorly understood. In her study of his work, Sasha Chaitow utilizes an interdisciplinary framework to give equal weight to the literary and esoteric characteristics of Péladan’s output. This chapter defines and justifies the term ‘literary esotericism’, provides a roadmap for similar interdisciplinary studies, and reveals the significance of contextualizing the occult characteristics of such work.