The Ever-Present Origin

By Jean Gebser; Noel Barstad et al. | Go to book overview

Translator's Preface

As early as 1951, even before publication of the second part of Jean Gebser Ursprung Gegenwart, the Bollingen Foundation contemplated the feasibility of an English-language version and requested an estimation of the book by Erich Kahler ( Princeton), the distinguished philosopher of history and author of studies of the evolution of human history and consciousness ( Man the Measure, 1943; The Tower and the Abyss, 1957). In his eight-page review Professor Kahler encouraged publication, calling the book "a very important, indeed in some respects pioneering piece of works," "vastly, solidly, and subtly documented by a wealth of anthropological, mythological, linguistic, artistic, philosophical, and scientific material which is shown in its multifold and striking interrelationship." He also noted that Gebser's study "treads new paths, opens new vistas" and is "brilliantly written, (introducing) many valuable new terms and distinctions (and showing) that scholarly precision and faithfulness to given data are compatible with a broad, imaginative, and spiritual outlook."

Despite this warmly appreciative and incisive estimation, the Bollingen Foundation apparently did not pursue the project further, for Gebser's correspondence with his German publisher mentions a New York option under another name (letter of May 21,1953) which also was not acted upon. The following year a part of Chapter three was printed in the periodical Tomorrow: Quarterly Review of Psychical Research (Summer, 1954 issue, vol. 2, no. 4, pages 44-58) in the author's own English rendering (reprinted here in its entirety pp. 46-60 and p. 106 note 43 below), and later negotiations were taken up by the author with the London firm of George Allen & Unwin, but owing to the death of one of the partners, no agreement was signed.

Because of the continuing interest in Gebser's work by readers and contributors of the journal Main Currents in Modern Thought, its editor, Mrs. Emily Sellon, sought to obtain foundation support for a complete translation (also from the Bollingen Foundation), and solicited from the author in 1971 a chapter to be included in the periodical. Unfortunately Jean Gebser's declining health made it impossible for him to prepare a translation himself and the extracts printed in the November-

-xv-

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