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Published June 26, 2009 


THE SECRET LIFE OF GENIUS
How 24 Great Men and Women Were Touched by Spiritual Worlds
 
by John Chambers

 

ISBN-13: 978-1-59477-272-6 / ISBN-10: 1-59477-272-X. Quality Paperback. July 1, 2009. 6’x 9’. 336 pp. 24 b&w illustrations. Imprint: Destiny Books. Inner Traditions/Bear & Co., P.O. Box 388, Rochester, VT 05767. 1-800-246-8648 / (802) 767-3174, Fax: (802) 767-3726, <http://www.innertraditions.com>, $18.95.

 

Throughout history, many famous men and women have had encounters with the supernatural—what we would today call the paranormal. In most cases, they have kept quiet about these encounters, fearing persecution or death. Often, they have hidden away accounts of their experiences.

Over the past 70 years, as organized religion has bit by bit loosened its hold on the Western world, these secret records have begun to come to light. In The Secret Life of Genius: How 24 Great Men and Women Were Touched by Spiritual Worlds, author John Chambers makes extensive use of these sometimes astonishing documents. They include:

·         The transcripts of the 100+ séances attended by Victor Hugo (1802-1885), his family, and his friends, while the author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame was in political exile on the Channel island of Jersey;

·         The Red Book by Carl G. Jung (1875-1961), first published in autumn 2009, which describes the psychic and spiritual experiments Jung carried out in private on himself. The Secret Life of Genius examines the sections of this work Jung included in his 1962 autobiography;

·         The 3.5 million words Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) wrote on biblical interpretation, Christian history, comparative mythology and alchemy even as he was putting together the Principia Mathematica. These sensational writings, heretical in Newton's time, have been gradually coming to light only since 1937;

·         The complete 2,000-page text of the transcripts of the “automatic writing” seances conducted by Irish poet W.B. Yeats (1865-1939), with his wife Georgie, in 1917-1920. These enigmatic transcripts—a tiny portion of which were brought out in 1925 as A Vision—were published, in their entirety, in three volumes, as The Vision Papers, by a group of scholars at the University of Florida, only in 1992.

Many of these documents, taken together, affirm that we live in a universe suffused throughout with conscious energy—with soul. There are hints of still-undisclosed documents in the life and work of other famous historical figures, such as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Michel de Nostradamus, Jules Verne, and  H.G. Wells, among others; The Secret Life of Genius tries to trace these hints to the source and find out its contents.

The Secret Life of Genius begins with the assumption that the collapse in 1620 of Prague, then the capital of occult, astro-magical learning in Europe, is emblematic of the triumph and development of the more scientific and technological worldview that shaped our society into what it is  today. The book asserts that the magical and occult world revealed in the hitherto-hidden documents of many of the 24 men and women described in its pages offers us a glimpse of an alternate world that could still be ours. It is a world that, though overshadowed by modern scientific/technological principles, can still be glimpsed,  on the horizon, in the lightning flashes of the paranormal—and in the secret writings, now surfacing, of a distinguished group of men and women going back through the centuries.

 


MEDIA APPEARANCES

 

Internet Radio Interview with Gia Scott, host, Exogeny Network's "Dawn of Shades" Show, Tuesday, August 4, 2009, 5:00-7:00 PM, Pacific Time, 6:00-8:00 PM, Mountain Time, 7:00-9:00 PM, Central Time, 8:00-10:00 PM, Eastern Time.  For details go to http://exogenynetwork.com/DawnOfShades.aspx

 

Radio Interview with Donna Seebo, host, The Donna Seebo Show, Monday, August 31, 2009, 3:00- 3:30 PM, Pacific Time.  For details go to http://www.bbsradio.com/bbc/donna_seebo.php

 

Radio Interview with Linda A. Strasburg, host, InterViews & InterActions, KTKK Radio, <http://www.K-TALK.com> streaming worldwide Broadcasting Salt Lake City, Tel.: 801.541.4295, Saturday, September 5, 2009, 2:00-3:00 PM, Mountain Standard Time.

 

Radio Interview with Jeff Rense, host, "The Jeff Rense Radio Show" <http://www.rense.com>
 
Thursday, September 24, 2009, 9:00-10:00 PM, Pacific Time.
 

 

Radio Interview with Pamela Marie Edmunds, host, "Bridge Between Two Worlds" Radio Show
 [
http://www.contacttalkradio.com/hosts/pamelaedmunds.html ], Monday, September 28, 2009, 5:00-6:00 PM, Pacific Time.

 

Radio Interview with Nancy Wiegman, host, "Nancy's Bookshelf," KCHO 91.7 (Chico, CA) / KFPR 88.9 (Redding, CA), affiliates of National Public Radio (NPR), Saturday, October 31, 2009 (HALLOWEEN), 4:30-5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.
[
http://www.kcho.org/ ]
 


Participant in 6th Annual Northern California Authors Fair (Writers Forum, Shasta Co., Northern California <http://www.writers-forum.net>), Mt. Shasta Mall, Dana Drive/Hilltop Road, Redding, CA 96003,
1:00-4:00 p.m., Saturday, November 7, 2009.

 

Participant in Holiday Author Open House, Lyon Books, 121 West 5th St., Chico, CA 95928, Tel. (530) 891-3338,
Fax: (530) 891-3334,
Sunday, November 29, 2009, <http://www.lyonbooks.com>

 

Talk at Fields Book Store, 1419 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109, (415) 673-2027, <http://www.fieldsbooks.com>, Thursday, March 18, 2010, 8:00-9:30 p.m. on "The Secret Life of Genius: Hidden Esoteric Texts of Sir Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, William Butler Yeats, and Carl G. Jung."

 

 

The Secret Life of Genius: TABLE OF CONTENTS



Introduction. Prague’s Other Universe

Chapter One. Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571): Goldsmith and Guardian Angel

Chapter Two. Michel de Nostradamus (1503–1566): The Art of Astral Medicine

Chapter Three. Ben Jonson (1572–1637): The Occult as Confidence Game

Chapter Four. Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727): In Search of the Historical Noah

Chapter Five. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832): The Battle Over Light

Chapter Six. William Blake (1757–1827): The Horse’s Mouth

Chapter Seven. Alphonse de Lamartine (1790–1869): The Fall of An Angel

Chapter Eight. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797–1851): The Last Man

Chapter Nine. Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850): Triumph and Tragedy of the Inner Self

Chapter Ten. Victor Hugo (1802–1885): What the Shadow’s Mouth Says

Chapter Eleven. Jules Verne (1828–1905): The Prophet as Peter Pan

Chapter Twelve. Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910): The Fruits of Enlightenment

Chapter Thirteen. Madame Helena Blavatsky (1831–1891): Mistress of Hidden Wisdom

Chapter Fourteen. William Butler Yeats (1865–1939): Metaphors for Poetry

Chapter Fifteen. H. G. Wells (1866–1946): Did the Father of Science Fiction Have a Near-Death Experience?

Chapter Sixteen. Thomas Mann (1871–1950): “It Was Not Possible—But It Happened”

Chapter Seventeen. Harry Houdini (1874–1926): Ultimate Escape

Chapter Eighteen. Winston S. Churchill (1874–1965): Encounter in the Transvaal

Chapter Nineteen. Carl G. Jung (1875–1961): Speaker for the Dead

Chapter Twenty. Sri Yashoda Ma (1882–1944): House Guest of Krishna

Chapter Twenty-one. Doris Lessing (1919–): Canopus in Argos: Archives

Chapter Twenty-two. Norman Mailer (1923–2007): Boxing with God

Chapter Twenty-three. Yukio Mishima (1925–1970): Martyr-Genius of Japan

Chapter Twenty-four. James Merrill (1926–1995): I and Mine Hold It Back Brothers

Notes

Bibliography

 

The Secret Life of Genius:  REVIEWS

 

"John Chambers has penetrated to the core of human genius, and found it has less to do with raw intelligence than we previously assumed. The two dozen, extraordinary individuals he examines—despite their radical diversity—all share something in common; namely, the application of spiritual experience to life. Chambers thereby unveils the most empowering secret available to every man and woman." - Frank Joseph, editor-in-chief, Ancient American magazine, author, Survivors of Atlantis, Discovering the Mysteries of Ancient America.



"Rare and penetrating glimpses into the paranormal dimension of the creative lives of 24 famous artists, scientists, and politicians. From Benvenuto Cellini to Churchill and Carl Jung, this book offers fresh perspectives on the achievements of greatness.  Written with grace, wit, and quiet erudition—heartily recommended." -
Michael Grosso, Ph.D, author, Soulmaker, The Millennium Myth.

 

"John Chambers is a gifted writer, and his writings are always topnotch, educational, and entertaining reading. He researches his material and knows about what he writes! In this book, Chambers looks at how twenty-four remarkable men and women were touched by spiritual worlds and what it did to and for each of them. This book is about relationships between humans, God, nature, and the realm of spirituality from the era of the 16th century to the 20th century.  Occult influences are covered. Paranormal experiences and other intriguing factors are involved in the book, detailed, analyzed, and shared with the reader. This reviewer found the following sections of special interest, and thinks the reader will also: Michel de Nostradamus, William Blake, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Honoré de Balzac, Madame Helena Blavatsky, William Butler Yeats, Carl G. Jung, Sri Yashoda Ma, Doris Lessing, and Norman Mailer.  The book as a whole does a fine and excellent job at presenting its subjects in honest, straight-forward analysis, and it is a book that should be on readers' reading lists as a well-written and memorable book concerning the intricate topic of spirituality and its effect on people. For a book that is well-researched, well-written, and well-explained, John Chambers deserves a round of applause and a wide reading audience. This is an entertaining reading experience. The Secret Life of Genius is a heady, intimate reading journey! The subjects come alive! Highly recommended." - Review by Lee Prosser - leep@ghostvillage.com, Ghostvillage.com <http://www.ghostvillage.com>, June 3, 2009.



"Whatever one thinks of the conclusions reached by some of the figures profiled in Chambers' book, The Secret Life of Genius is a consistently fascinating and provocative look at an underappreciated side of human creativity, showing that a fascination with 'spiritual worlds' is not so much an aberration as, in many cases, a defining attribute of the inquiring mind." -
Michael Prescott's Blog, July 15, 2009, http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2009/07/book-review-the-secret-life-of-genius.html

 

"Why didn't anybody think of this before? [Revealing the paranormal encounters of great persons] adds a whole new color to history." - Linda A. Strasburg, Host, InterViews & InterActions, KTKK Radio, www.K-TALK.com streaming worldwide Broadcasting, Salt Lake City, Utah.

 

"It must truly be a love of the occult that prompted John Chambers to meticulously chronicle the spiritual lives of these extraordinary twenty-four women and men." - G.L. Giles, Psychic Times International, Vol. 7, No. 4 (October 2009), <http://www.Voicesfrombeyond7.com/PsychicTimesWelcome.html>.
 


Five Out of Five Stars. "Genius is not necessarily bestowed but is, as the Greeks said, all around us.  Twenty-four well-known historical figures, for example, sought answers to what is beyond the illusion of the limited third-dimensional self to enhance their work, their lives, and knowledge, going back to when science and spirituality were all one subject (pre-Newton) and astrology and astronomy were, too. Jules Verne's predictions in the mid-1800s of cars running on gas, fax machines, cities covered with electronic advertisements: how could he have known all this? Had he learned remote viewing?  Or, perhaps, it was all dictated to him by other beings, as was Yeats's experience.  The city of Prague was—and may well still be—the energetic center for such information.  So much more information is becoming available to us now through books like this." - Ms. Dawn Taylor, AMAZON.COM.UK, October 31, 2009.



"At one time the European perspective was that science and spirit were intertwined with Nature as aspects of an overarching world view of reality.
Later the view changed: Reality was viewed as having a dual nature, with science and reason entirely separate from spirit, and nature became something to be exploited. Even so, during the succeeding centuries many scientists, writers, and philosophers experienced events that questioned the view of duality. The Secret Life of Genius chooses 24 men and women from the beginning of the 16th century to the end of the 20th century whose lives were influenced by experiences related to realms beyond those of science and reason. Some, including James Merrill, Carl Jung, Victor Hugo, and William Blake, were deeply involved with these experiences. Others, such as Jules Verne and Norman Mailer, were involved only tangentially. Still others, like Leo Tolstoy and Goethe, actively sought out metaphysical experiences. Each of the book’s lively accounts starts with a key event from the person’s life, moves to significant background experiences, examines other related incidents and outcomes, and often wraps up with a return to the opening segment. Carl Jung, for example, had many experiences with departed spirits that were still connected with their former lives and sought answers about their afterlives. He writes, “the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” Isaac Newton, noted for his scientific and mathematical genius, understood that Nature represented the fusion of spirit and science and that together they created an overarching worldview." -  Richard D. Wright, NEW AGE RETAILER, <http://www.newageretailer.com>, November 2009.

 

"Does genius depend on only raw intelligence, or is there something beyond the mind that infuses it? Read this book and form your own opinion . . . " - Nexus, Colorado's Holistic Journal, Nov/Dec 2009.

 


 

 

In January 2008, Inner Traditions/Bear & Company <http://www.InnerTraditions.com>, of Rochester, Vermont, published a wholly revised and expanded edition of Conversations with Eternity: The Forgotten Masterpiece of Victor Hugo (New Paradigm Books, 1998) under the title

 Victor Hugo's Conversations with the Spirit World: A Literary Genius's Hidden Life

by John Chambers




ISBN-13: 978-1-59477-182-8. ISBN-10: 1-59477-182. 0. $18.95. Paper. 384 pages. 6 x 9. Three illustrations. Imprint: Destiny Books. Inner Traditions/Bear & Co., P.O. Box 388, Rochester, VT 05767. 1-800-246-8648 / (802) 767-3174, Fax: (802) 767-3726, <http://www.innertraditions.com>, $18.95. January 2008.

 

Victor Hugo’s Conversations with the Spirit World: A Literary Genius's Hidden Life, has been hugely revised, corrected, and expanded over an earlier version of the book, Conversations with Eternity: The Forgotten Masterpiece of Victor Hugo, published by the same author in 1998. There has been much additional editing of the transcripts of the seances, and new transcripts have been translated and added.  Over one hundred pages of new material, much of it not published in any language before the year 2000, has been added, in the form of lengthy dramatized accounts of the triumphs and trials of the Hugo family, and of Victor Hugo's fellow political exiles, while on Jersey island.



 


During Victor Hugo's exile on Jersey island, where he and his family and friends escaped the reign of Napoleon III, he conducted "table-tapping" seances, transcribing hundreds of channeled conversations with entities from the beyond. Among his discarnate visitors were Shakespeare, Plato, Hannibal, Rousseau, Galileo, and Jesus. According to the transcripts, Jesus, during his five visits, condemns Druidism, faults Christianity, and outlines a new religion with Hugo as its prophet.


Scholars differ as to the state of Victor Hugo’s mind during his period of exile (1852-1855) on the Channel island of Jersey from the France of the repressive Emperor Napoleon III. Some believe the already world-famous author, soon to write Les Misérables, was suffering from a mild form of schizophrenia. Be that as it may, in 1853-1855 Hugo took part in numerous “table-tapping” seances. The transcripts of these seances, translated into English for the first time ever in this book, bear witness that well over 100 alleged spirits manifested through the tapping tables to the French author, his family, and his fellow political exiles. These entities included the illustrious dead like Shakespeare, Plato and Galileo, and spirits who said they’d never been alive, like the Shadow of the Sepulcher and Death. Aliens from Mercury and Jupiter visited the tables. Jesus, in the course of five visits, condemned Druidism, faulted Christianity, and outlined a new religion with Hugo as its prophet. Mozart, using a real piano, strove to channel a symphony. The more professorial of the entities, led by Balaam’s Ass,  set forth a forbidding picture of our cosmos as a giant prison shaken by the winds of a metempsychosis demanding the passage of every soul through lives as plants, animals and stones as well as humanoids. The spirits sought to tell Hugo and his friends how to cope with this unforgiving universe, in which our planet occupied only one of the lowest rungs.

Around and about the séances, the Hugo family comes to life in the pages of this book. Isolated as  it was on Jersey island, the family lived in a microcosm of seething political and personal turmoil. Drawing extensively on daughter Adèle Hugo’s 2,000-page Diaries, author Chambers provides lengthy and lively vignettes focusing on each of the family members in turn, with all their strengths, foibles and shining individualities. Hugo’s three children, in their twenties, vital, talented, indomitable, have reluctantly followed their father into exile. They chafe against being cut off from their birthright of participation in the ongoing life of France. There is Charles, the oldest, the reluctant medium, furious and rebellious under his apparent compliance; Adèle, the diarist, on the verge of schizophrenia, falling in love with the dangerous Lieutenant Pinson; François-Victor, troubled but also scholarly and brilliant, and so best able to take advantage of this exile by settling into translating the plays of Shakespeare. The book follows their  difficult days and nights while also shining a new light on the lives of other political exiles, including the pro-Kossuth Hungarians and especially their leader, Count Sandor Teleki, who, valiant but war-weary, finds unexpected solace in the tapping tables. There is a midnight vignette of the French Emperor Napoléon III, Hugo’s greatest enemy, wandering through the corridors of his palace. All this, and much more, is interwoven around and about the vibrantly compelling contents of the séances.

Victor Hugo’s Conversations with the Spirit World covers a hitherto undocumented (except in part by an earlier version, Conversations with Eternity) portion of Victor Hugo’s life: August 1853 to December 1855, when, while in political exile on Jersey Island in the English Channel, he participated in numerous "tapping-table” séances. Only with the publication in 2002 of the fourth and final volume of daughter Adèle Hugo’s diary did all the details of this tumultuous period in Hugo's life finally come to light. Not until 1923 was a portion  of the transcripts of the séances published for the first time in France, and not until 1970 did they appear in any substantial number (fully two-thirds of the original transcripts have still not been found). Victor Hugo’s Conversations with the Spirit World is the first translation into English of the transcripts of these always beautiful, sometimes harrowing, séances; it is also the first introduction to the English-speaking world of lengthy portions of Adèle Hugo’s richly detailed, always beguiling diary.


 

Victor Hugo's Conversations with the Spirit World:  REVIEWS
 


ROCK STAR POWER PROPELS HUGO’S CONVERSATIONS.  (
June 17, 2008)  A mention of Victor Hugo’s Conversations with the Spirit World by rising 28-year-old Brit rock star Natasha Khan in an interview in the Manchester Guardian for Monday, June 16, sent sales of the book soaring on AMAZON.COM.UK (and probably in bookstores).  MORE...

 

"Things to do on Jersey when you're dead...This intriguing corner of the great novelist's life is exceptionally well documented in Victor Hugo's Conversations with the Spirit World, by John Chambers. Chambers, the first person to translate the séance transcripts into English (in an earlier edition of this book), does a fine job of evoking the atmosphere of the exiles' home away from home, their bitter homesickness and burgeoning fascination with the occult. His book is unusually well written for a study of this kind, laced with keen character sketches and absorbing sidelights on William Blake, James Merrill, and Kabbalah. He presents the facts without undue speculation and lets his readers draw their own conclusions....Victor Hugo's Conversations with the Spirit World is a superb contribution to literary history and to the study of the paranormal. I recommend it highly." - Michael Prescott, April 28, 2008.  For full text, click here: <http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2008/04/things-to-do-on.html>

 

 

5.0 out of 5 stars New age collections will find it an intriguing addition.  April 3, 2008.  "John Chambers' Victor Hugo's Conversations with the Spirit World: A Literary Genius's Hidden Life is for collections strong in either New Age spirituality or parapsychology. It focuses on Victor Hugo's exile on the island of Jersey, where he and his friends escaped the reign of Napoleon III and where he transcribed hundreds of channeled conversations with various incarnate energies from beyond. New age collections will find it an intriguing addition." -  Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)

 

A Fascinating Story. "Hugo comes across as a complex man - as one would expect - egotistical and selfish, overbearing towards his family, yet sensitive and passionate on occasion. He was also capable of surprising insights, musing on time running backwards, or prefiguring David Bohm's holographic universe. While not convinced that the séances were "the greatest... adventure into the supernatural that has ever been recorded", I would agree that this is a fascinating story, and it is told in an engaging way." - Tom Ruffles, NTHPOSITION Online Magazine, March 2008. For full text, click here:  <http://www.nthposition.com/victorhugosconversations.php>/ Fortean Times, July '08


 

  The most intriguing book I have ever read.  "If you have an interest in either Victor Hugo and/or spiritualism, you do not want to miss this! This book is absolutely captivating, reading almost like a novel in certain parts. It immerses you in Hugo's legendary exile on the isle of Jersey and contains transcripts from his séances (with ghostly visitors such as Shakespeare, Plato and Jesus, among others). While the authenticity of these conversations is certainly questionable, the prospect of reading these "celebrities'" take on things from beyond the grave is simply irresistible. On the other hand, historical facts and descriptions of the Hugo family dynamics ground this masterpiece in reality. In sum, I think this just might be the most intriguing book I have ever read." - AMAZON.CA. 5.0 out of 5 stars Irresistible, Aug 1 2008. By Jennie (Ottawa, ONT., CA)
 


Fascinating
. "This is a very well presented biography, focusing on the three years that Hugo spent conversing with the spirit world.  There are transcripts included that make this book extremely interesting, and whatever conclusions you draw from the material presented, I assure you that you will be entertained, amused and will find yourself pondering the conversations included in this book.  It is a fascinating volume of work, and one which, if you are interested in either the life of Victor Hugo or in the various forms of Spirit Contact that are documented, you will find this an important addition to your library." -  Boudica, ZODIAC BISTRO, September 15, 2008.  Click here <http://zodiacbistro.net/reviews/hugosconversations%20chambers.htm> for full text of review.

 

A Real Page-Turner. "Thanks to Chambers’s informative, engaging – and, in parts, novelistic – style, this book is a real page-turner, full of bits and pieces of interesting history.  Not only does Chambers delve into the life of Hugo, and the spirit communications that he and his family obtained, he covers so many other fascinating topics as well, such as the channeled writings of the poet James Merrill, the Priory of Sion and the theory that Hugo was one of its grandmasters, as well as the teachings of the Zohar, a collection of Kabalistic texts that Hugo was familiar with.  This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of psychic research and Spiritualism, as well as ardent fans of Victor Hugo and his work."  - Louis Proud in New Dawn No. 110. For complete review, click on: http://www.newdawnbooks.info/Reviews/Victor_Hugos_Conversations_with_the_Spirit_World.html

 

A Mesmerizing Glimpse. "I picked up this book as a lark, but to my surprise it turned out to be a fascinating read full of forgotten little tidbits of history. It has a bit of everything: Mystery, passion, betrayal, ambition, telepathic snails....Chambers's book is a mesmerizing glimpse into a long-forgotten pocket of history, giving new insight into the beliefs and themes that Hugo explored in his writing throughout his life. It also helps explain the allure of Spiritualism, which captivated writers and thinkers like Arthur Conan Doyle, William James, and poet James Merrill. I highly recommend it." SME,  The Bookworm Collective, January 25, 2009. For complete text of review, click on http://rockinbookworms.blogspot.com/2009/01/victor-hugos-conversation-with-spirit.html

 

Fascinating Read . . . Chilling . . . and True. "It doesn't dwell on long boring descriptions of the period and scenery like most books would.  In fact, gives enough detail of the period to paint the picture, then cuts to the meat of the subject matter.  Some of the passages got pretty deep, and honestly, some I did not fully understand, like the philosophy and so forth of death and reincarnation.  These passages only went for a few pages, so it was okay.  This book also includes some of the actual drawings made by the tables.  It's compelling and mesmerizing—and, at times, frightening. There is a section about howling dogs which just gave me goose bumps." - AMAZON.COM, Nathan Christian, New Stanton, PA, U.S., May 19, 2009


 

Some Very Evocative Texts. "Chambers's work has the merit of making available to an English-speaking audience, for the first time, some very evocative texts that deserve to be read, even only for their poetic value. . . Chambers’s writing is somewhat redolent of the style of some French popular biographers of the 1950s, such as André Maurois. This is not a criticism by any means. Quite the opposite, in fact: the novelistic way in which he presents a certain number of scenes – all conscientiously documented, one should add – makes for very pleasant reading and helps to better grasp the ambiance of the time. . . . [It's] a well-researched and well-written book that is often more rewarding and thought-provoking than many supposedly more academic productions."  - Dr. Vittorio Frigerio, Professor and Chair, French Department, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Dalhousie French Studies (no. 86, Spring 2009), Reviews, pp. 160-161. For complete text of review, click HERE. Dr. Frigerio is editor of Belphégor (http://etc.dal.ca/belphegor/)


 

Victor Hugo's Conversations with the Spirit World:  TABLE OF CONTENTS



Acknowledgments


Introduction: “Victor the Grandiose” by Martin Ebon

I     Jersey Island: Setting for a Séance

II    Léopoldine Beckons

III   Channeling the Enemy

IV    When the Spirits Spoke Hungarian

V     The Shadow of the Sepulcher

VI    Hannibal Storms the Tapping Tables

VII   God’s Convict

VIII  André Chénier Loses His Head but Ends Up Keeping It

IX    William Shakespeare, Channeled and Translated

X     Metempsychosis Speaks

XI    Victor Hugo and the Zohar

XII   Martin Luther on Doubt

XIII  Other Voices, Other Rooms

XIV   The Secret Life of Animals

XV    Roarings of Ocean and Comet

XVI   The Lady in White

XVII  The Lion of Androcles

XVIII Astral Voyage to the Planet Mercury

XIX   Planets of Punishment and Worlds of Reward

XX    “You Will Awaken Me in the Year 2000 . . .”

XXI   The United States of Europe

XXII  Victor Hugo, James Merrill, and William Blake: Three Visionaries, One Vision

XXIII Galileo Explains the Inexplicable

XXIV  Joshua Brings Down More Walls

XXV   Jesus Christ Revises His Thinking

XXVI  The Jersey Spirits: Reality and Legacy

Appendix: First Act of a New Play Said to Be Channeled from William Shakespeare

Notes

Bibliography

Index


 

John Chambers: BIOGRAPHY
 


John Chambers has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Toronto and spent three years at the University of Paris. His previous translations include “Phase One: C. E. Q. Manifesto,” in Quebec: Only the Beginning. He has been a full-time English instructor at Dawson College, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and assistant editor at McGraw-Hill Publishing and managing editor at International Thomson Publishing, both in New York, NY. He has published numerous articles on subjects ranging from ocean shipping to mall sprawl to alien abduction and is the author of Conversations with Eternity: The Forgotten Masterpiece of Victor Hugo (1998). Seven of his essays appeared in Forbidden Religion: Suppressed Heresies of the West, published by Inner Traditions in November 2006. From October 1997 to March 2008, he was the director of New Paradigm Books publishing company.  He has published two books with Inner Traditions/Destiny: Victor Hugo's Conversations with the Spirit World: A Literary Genius's Hidden Life (January 2008) and The Secret Life of Genius: How 24 Great Men and Women Were Touched by Spiritual Worlds (June 2009). He lives in Redding, California, with his wife Judy.

 


 

An earlier version of VICTOR HUGO'S CONVERSATIONS WITH THE SPIRIT WORLD: A LITERARY GENIUS'S HIDDEN LIFE was published in 1998 by New Paradigm Books as CONVERSATIONS WITH ETERNITY: The Forgotten Masterpiece of Victor Hugo.  That earlier version is now out-of-print.  Here are some reviews:
 

"Presented here is a whole 'nother side to the incredible mind that wrote Les Misérables.  Recorded during his three-year exile on the Isle of Jersey using the séance method of table-tapping, this 'channeled' conversation reveals a particularly unusual spiritual experience in the renowned 19th-century French writer's life.  Covering everything from Hugo's beloved daughter, who had died, to the subject of Napoleon and a brush with Galileo, lively bantering with Sir Walter Scott, 'Death,' the planet Mercury, and many other subjects, the book makes you feel like an ambitious yet misguided archeologist who accidentally unearths the ancient text that provides a spiritual Missing Link.  Read it, love it, share it, talk about it; most of all, have fun with it.  This is a total adventure, and I would give my eyeteeth to have been  there!"  -  T.E., NAPRA REVIEW, May-June, 1999. 

"Few people are aware that while in exile on the island of Jersey, the great French writer Victor Hugo channeled thousands of messages from the dead. 'This emotional experience lasted for over two years,' writes Martin Ebon in the introduction, 'and the record of its exalted nights and days is certainly a unique document, as well as a glimpse into the subconscious of an egocentric, frustrated genius, seeking to crash through the barriers of human communication. And who knows? It may even be that Hugo succeeded.'   This book translates a good deal of Hugo's channeling into English for the first time.  Stitching it all together--and providing the much-needed history and perspective--is John Chambers's brilliant running commentary. Quite a surprise, quite a delight." - Patrick Huyghe, Editor, ANOMALIST.   

From The Age of Seance: "Another great Victorian-epoch writer was less public in his espousal of spiritualism but no less fervent. Conversations With Eternity is a distillation of transcripts of table-turning sessions carried out by Victor Hugo and family while in exile on Jersey. The notes were lost in various archives until 1923, when they were collated and published in French. This is their first publication in English.
    "The Hugos fled the tyrannical regime of Napoleon III in 1851, and having arrived in Jersey, set about holding seances. It seems likely that Hugo’s interest in this activity was precipitated by the death, nine years earlier, of his daughter Leopoldine. Equally, boredom may have played a part. For two years the family were in nightly contact with the ethereal realm, and Conversations With Eternity details the results of their sessions.
    "Anyone wishing to see the problems that researchers such as William James were up against need look no further than this book. Various spirits, including the shades of such luminaries as Hannibal and Shakespeare, visited the Hugos to convey statements of either mind-numbing banality or bewildering obscurity, sometimes both at once. The one, just-about-coherent theme that emerges from this book is the notion of the world as a prison for human souls, who become reincarnated as lesser organisms if their owners were insufficiently well-behaved during their lives. This leads to a lot of high-flown, repetitious gobbledygook and amusing assertions such as: 'The plant is the grimmest of the soul’s prisons. The lily is sheer hell.'
    "What Conversations With Eternity does well, with its Channel Island channellings, is reinforce the frustrating truth about seances and mediumship. Believers will find much to convince them in the evidence it presents. Unbelievers will not.
     "Nowadays spiritualism has become part of the paranormal subculture. It and all its New Age-y and Fortean ilk are tolerated but not subjected to any great level of scrutiny. Perhaps that is because, despite our rationalist era, many of us remain in thrall to the hope that deceased loved ones are waiting for us in the next world. We find it hard to accept that life reaches a full stop; we feel there must be, at the very least, a coda, if not a whole new open-ended sentence … " - James Lovegrove, from The Age of Seance, The Financial Times, London, U.K., March 8, 2008.

..Truly great and deserve[s] to be in every library, both public and private.   Dec.  14, 2003."This remarkable book deals with the spiritualistic track record of Victor Hugo, when he had moved to the island of Jersey for political reasons.
    
  "This is a remarkable and truly fascinating account of the life of the great writer and poet, and in  a sense of the troubled times during which he lived and wrote.
     "Turning to spiritualism at one point and the then-popular practice of table  turning to make and receive contacts with the alleged spirit world, this book, translating all this, is a most valuable contribution to the world of Hugo and his time.
      "Today, we take a somewhat different view of table turning and spiritualism, and demand hard scientific evidence instead of blind belief. 
      "The introduction by Martin Ebon, one-time right-hand man and aide to the late great medium Eileen Garrett, is also a masterpiece of putting Mr. Chambers's translation of the Hugo material in its proper context.  One need also consider the research into the evidence for reincarnation in this connection, and, ultimately,  the standards prevailing today in scientific parapsychology.
      "But the work by Mr. Chambers and the introduction by Martin Ebon are truly great and deserve to be in every library, both public and private."  
  -  Prof. Dr.  Hans Holzer,  parapsychologist  and author of 126 books including Ghosts and Life Beyond Life

The translation and commentary ...is brilliant, honest, and accurate.  August 14, 2003.
      "For readers of the paranormal, this book will be a shocker with its vivid details, revelations, and intriguing approaches. Translated from French with commentary by John Chambers, and with an introduction to who Victor Hugo was by Martin Ebon, this books makes for fascinating reading.
     "Victor Hugo wrote many novels, the most famous being Les Misrables. During Hugo's exile during 1853 - 1855 on the island of Jersey, he channeled thousands of messages from the famous dead. These spirits from beyond the grave and other star systems revealed to Hugo the existence of powerful energies. They told Hugo they were attempting to raise the vibrational level of the earth to a higher plane. These messages were 150 years ahead of their time, and in this book the reader comes to understand the challenges and potential of these important messages that were channeled through Victor Hugo.
      "Long out of print, it is now available again. The translation and commentary by John Chambers is brilliant, honest, and accurate. The introduction by Martin Ebon is flawless, in style and in intent. This is the type of book that needs to be placed in the home library for reference and in the public library for those patrons interested in the paranormal.
      "The book contains 22 chapters and opens with data to tell who the messengers were, the way of contact, and what they represented in terms of paranormal contact. The chapters are "Journeys to the Afterworld," "Hannibal Storms the Turning Tables," "Metempsychosis Speaks," "The Haunting of Victor Hugo," "The Secret World of Animals," "Roarings of Ocean and Comet," "Voyage to the Planet Mercury," "Galileo on the Unexplainable," among others. At the conclusion of this fine reference work is a section on the works consulted during the translation of the work.
"This is a superb nonfiction book. Much praise is due John Chambers for his masterful and accurate translation and incisive commentary. Highly recommended."   -
Review by Lee Prosser - leep@ghostvillage.com - Ghostvillage.com review

"...Informative commentary by translator John Chambers is an invaluable assist for the reader. Conversations With Eternity is superb reading and a splendid addition to the growing body of metaphysical literature available to the English-speaking public today."  - Sharon Stuart, MIDWEST REVIEW, Feb., 1999:

"In 1851 the French writer Victor Hugo escaped the tyranny of Napoleon III only to end up on the dismal Jersey islands in the English Channel. Hugo and his family whiled away their exile by contacting famous and other dead spirits floating around in the ether.  The Hugos and their exiled neighbors employed table tapping to convey the messages of these beings, including the likes of Shakespeare, Hannibal, and the ancient Greek poet Anacreon, among others. Hugo personally transcribed the messages and kept records of these unusual communications.  In Conversations with Eternity, John Chambers has translated these otherworldly communiqués into English for the first time.  Reading this work allows one to view the nineteenth century from a refreshingly multi-dimensional perspective. The history is presented not with a dreary reporting of mere facts and dates, but rather with something that is strangely alive, pregnant with a timely spiritual urgency.  Many of the spirits insisted to Hugo and his séance clique that humanity must raise its vibratory level in order to hasten its evolution toward light--a message also found in contemporary channeled works such as The Pleiadian Agenda and Bringers of the Dawn.  The Hugo family's unusually bright social circle seemed to attract a wide range of spirits who often poetically surpassed their Earthbound audience.  For example, poet André Chénier eloquently described from beyond his 1794 execution by guillotine:  'A luminous line separates my head from my body.  It is an alive and feeling wound, which is receiving the kiss of God.  Death appears to me simultaneously on the earth and in the sky; while my body, transfigured by the tomb, plunges into the beatitudes of eternity...'    Conversations With Eternity is replete with channeled gems like the above, perfect for any jaded history buff looking for a new perspective on the past as well as the future."  -  Jaye C. Beldo, FATE , May, 1999.

"In exile on Jersey, with ''Ocean," sky, and sadness shaping the emotional environment, Victor Hugo took up the newly popular practice of spiritism ("table turning").  Between 1853 and 1855, he, his family and friends recorded conversations with over a hundred of the illustrious dead.  Aeschylus, Plato, Christ, Mahomet, Dante, Machiavelli, Molière, Shakespeare, Voltaire, Mozart, André Chénier, Byron, and Walter Scott spoke, as well as Balaam's Ass, Death, Metempsychosis, and Ocean.  Few people give credence to conversations with the dead, believing that most visionaries, mystics and eccentrics who report them are seeking support for personal agendas.  In Hugo's case, in a gross simplification, his agenda appears to be enhancing humankind's spiritual resources through instructing the world in a gospel of redemption.  Through sin we have blemished God's creation, blighted our lives and become "imprisoned souls."  Through reincarnations, we can finally ascend into "worlds of reward" or will descend into "punitary worlds."  The theme, however, is by no means so straightforward.  An often skeptical Hugo questioned the immortals (or so they chose to speak) on an amazing range of other topics--some as specialized as the deficiencies of Racine's classical plays.  Challenging, memorable, poetic utterances abound. The reader's journey is not easy, but much guidance is given.  Martin Ebon ("dean of writers on the paranormal") provides a useful historical Introduction.  John Chambers (the translator) does much to define operating conditions, explain process, and analyze themes and development in the conversations.  Nevertheless, problems abound. The hand-activated table gave one tap for "a" and 26 for "z."  Thus the time and effort required for "receiving" answers seems impossible.  Did making fair copies of the en séance notes promote unlimited "automatic writing" in which Hugo's untrammeled imagination took over?  The poet-author of the brilliant Hernani, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Napoleon the Small and so much else certainly had a compulsion to write and teach.  Not the least interesting element of this strange but well-structured book is Chambers's expansion and exploration of home-grown spiritism through skillful reconstruction of channeling, Gaia, quantum holography, the Great Chain of Being, James Merrill's The Changing Light at Sandover, and Cao Dai (the contemporary Vietnamese "Third Alliance between God and Man" and repository of Hugolian religious thought).  This is a book for the curious.  If open-minded, they will forgive the misdating of Julius II, consult the book's bibliography, and also read Graham Robb's fine new biography of Hugo."   - Peter Skinner, FOREWORD, February, 1999.

"RATING: 3 OUT OF 4 STARS. THE BEST BOOK ON CHANNELING FOR YEARS--RECEIVE IT NOW!
"In December, 1851, Victor Hugo was in danger of arrest under the increasingly tyrannical regime of Napoleon III. Trailing a stream of camp-followers, the Hugo family fled from France to live for three years in exile in Jersey. This was the beginning of a 19-year absence from France, most of this being spent on the island of Guernsey. Ten years prior to Hugo's flight, his 19-year-old married daughter Léopoldine, pregnant at the time, had drowned with her husband whilst boating in the Seine. Returning from Spain, Hugo read of his daughter's death in a newspaper glimpsed by accident in a Soubise cafe.   As earlier that same day Hugo had visited the mummified bodies in the charnel house of Saint-Michael's Church, his terrible loss and the eerie reminder of death affected him so profoundly that he developed an increasing interest in the occult. He came to believe that personality (or some form of it) survived death. From September 1853 to October 1855, Hugo and his circle, through the interpretation of table-tappings, received messages from all manner of spirit beings, ranging from Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Aeschylus and Napoleon, to Galileo, Aristophanes, Moses, Byron, Jesus Christ, Socrates, Joan of Arc, and even the Ass of Balaam. This is a judicious selection by John Chambers of material previously unavailable in English."  - Colin Bennett, FORTEAN TIMES, January, 2000.

"Readers of this journal will undoubtedly be familiar with the phenomena of channeling.  From the well-known Seth material of Jane Roberts to the popular Ramtha phenomenon of the seventies, channeling has brought us such bizarre works as the Urantia Book and the remarkable Course in Miracles.  But here is a book of channeled material which is a century older and which occurred in the presence of a famous author.  It was August of 1853 that Victor Hugo arrived with his family on the island of Jersey, five miles off the French coast in the English Channel.  Six years prior, in Hydesville, New York, the Fox sisters had heard loud raps which were interpreted as messages from the deceased.  Almost immediately, conversing with the dead by means of tapping out messages by a table leg knocking on the floor a number of times for each letter mushroomed into a world-wide Spiritualist fad to which even the French upper class turned with enthusiastic passion.  Ten years earlier in his life, in September of 1843, Hugo's beloved daughter Léopoldine, only 19 years old and three months pregnant, had drowned with her husband in the river Seine.  So when on Sunday, September 11, 1853, the table tapped out the name "Léopoldine," even the skeptical Victor Hugo was overcome by emotion.  For the ensuing two years he would be intimately involved in the turning tables of the séances.  From Martin Ebon's beautifully written and highly informative Introduction to John Chambers' weaving of relevant contemporary channeled material as commentary on the Hugo family experiences, this book provides an exciting journey to those interested in psychical phenomena.  Whether the table rapping phenomena was, in fact, communication with those claiming to be well-known historical figures such as Rousseau, Hannibal, Luther, Galileo, Shakespeare, Mohammed, even Jesus, among others, or whether the channeling can be explained as the working of the subconscious mind of those present at the séances, fascinating ideas are presented: we are told that ancient Carthage was founded by survivors from Atlantis; that everything--human, animal, plant, and mineral--has a soul; that existence on earth is punishment for injustice committed in previous incarnations.  From the spirit claiming to be André Chénier (1762-1794), who was guillotined for his royalist sympathies, we are given a full description of his immediate after-death experience; from a spirit claiming to be Shakespeare, that "Art walks to heaven's door, but only love may enter;" from a spirit claiming to be Martin Luther that "doubt is the instrument which forges the human spirit."  According to certain spirits, animals are criminals being punished for their transgressions; other beings offer descriptions of semi-corporeal life on Mercury and Jupiter.  Metempsychosis is a cosmic reality.  Thus we are enjoined to honor and love animals and all the so-called lower species.  Chambers relates the Hugo channeled material to contemporary channeled works such as Patricia Pereira's Songs of the Arcturians, Eagles of the New Dawn and Songs of Malantor, and James Merrill's The Changing Light at Sandover.  Moreover, he claims to see in the material ideas in physics which only recently have come to be accepted.  I, however, am skeptical, first, because the information shared by supposedly knowledgeable spirits is, to me, disappointing in its specific content; second, because I wonder whether forces of nature are able to communicate with such clarity to the human mind; and, third, at least in English, the messages seem remarkably too similar in their beautiful style.  Could they have been the product of Hugo's subconscious or super-conscious minds communicating with those holding the table?  In any case, the content of the book does fascinate and challenge the reader.  Remember that it was after these experiences that Hugo wrote his remarkable Les Misérables.  Clearly the experiences on Jersey had a profound effect on Hugo's later writings and thoughts.  For those interested in Victor Hugo and his works, or in the phenomenon of channeling, I would recommend this book."  - John F. Miller, III, Ph.D,  JOURNAL OF RELIGION AND PSYCHICAL RESEARCH, Vol. 23, No.1, January, 2000 .


 



Conversations With Eternity: The Forgotten Masterpiece of Victor Hugo
  foreign editions: Greek, Bulgarian, Latvian, Spanish (Mexico), Portuguese (Brazil), Lithuanian and Italian.


 


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