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Spring Newsletter 2012 

Welcome to the Swedenborg Society's Spring E-Newsletter. Please read on and discover the latest news from the Society. New publications, including a Penguin paperback introduction to Swedenborg and e-book editions of Blake's London and Gardens of Heaven and Earth, represent the dynamic future of Swedenborg publishing. The Society also remains active in the live arena of Swedenborg Hall, and this newsletter brings you news of forthcoming storytelling, film and poetry events. We hope you enjoy news of our books and events and look forward to hearing from you and seeing you soon.


Nora Foster

Publicist & Assistant Curator, The Swedenborg Society.


Swedenborg: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas | A New Penguin Edition

We are extremely pleased to present a new paperback edition of Gary Lachman's popular introduction to Swedenborg, printed by Penguin Books USA. Swedenborg: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas (Tarcher/Penguin, 2012) is the latest addition to a new series of introductory books, focused on particular philosophers including Carl Jung and Rudolf Steiner.

This edition was launched on 12 April and has already attracted much attention in the US national media: Gary Lachman was interviewed in The New York Times and the book has been reviewed in The Washington Post.

The publication of Swedenborg: An Introduction by Tarcher/Penguin is also a landmark event for the Swedenborg Society; we commissioned, edited and published Gary Lachman's original book, Into the Interior: Discovering Swedenborg, before Tarcher/Penguin approached us for the paperback rights. You can purchase the new paperback via the Penguin USA website, and from the Swedenborg Society online bookshop. Swedenborg: An Introduction is also available as an e-book in two different formats.


Lachman identifies all the roles Swedenborg inhabited (spiritual thinker, psychic, scientist, inventor, statesman, traveller, and possibly even spy) and does an exceptionally good job of suggesting why this little-known polymath deserves more substantial critical attention. – The Independent on Sunday

News | E-Books

Blake's London & Gardens of Heaven and Earth

The Swedenborg Society continues to catch up with the future - or at least with the present - of publishing, as we produce our first-ever e-books! You can now purchase both Blake's London: The Topographic Sublime by Iain Sinclair and Gardens of Heaven and Earth by Kristin King for Kindle Reader, from the Amazon Kindle Store. As well as being slightly cheaper than paper editions, the e-book format also comes without the added cost of postage.

Blake's London: The Topographic Sublime: £4.58 for Kindle only BUY NOW

Gardens of Heaven and Earth: £7.98 for Kindle only BUY NOW

Read Josephine Appelgren's review of Gardens of Heaven and Earth  here. Blake's London has been reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement, the Camden New Journal and The Times newspaper; it is also top of the bestseller list at the London Review of Books Bookshop, making Swedenborg Society publishing history! You can still buy the hardback, limited-edition versions of both books from the Swedenborg Society online bookshop and from

Event | 10 May 2012 | 7 pm

Sally Pomme Clayton | Eros & Psyche

On 10 May 2012, the wonderful writer and storyteller Sally Pomme Clayton will return to Swedenborg Hall for her second artist residency performance. Eros & Psyche is a storytelling performance for adults, inspired by Ancient Greek mythology and philosophy. Swedenborg was arguably influenced by Platonic ideas, and it is these which Sally hopes to reveal in her thrilling story about Eros and Psyche, love, truth and beauty.

Sally explains in her latest blog: 'My performance of Eros and Psyche is not a simple telling, instead I have woven together the ancient myth with Plato’s Symposium and the life of Socrates. Psyche’s search takes her from romance, to the edge of existence. She meets jealousy, despair, cruelty, lust, and hope. The myth exists in many cultures. The
earliest written version is 2000 years old, written in Latin by Apuleius, and still captures the contemporary imagination with its questions about love, the soul, and the choice to live. These ideas originally came from Plato – a myth-maker who dressed truth up as stories and used hoary old Socrates to convey his ideas ...'

Sally Pomme Clayton is a founder member of the Company of Storytellers. She has recently performed at the National Gallery, the British Museum, the Royal Festival Hall and the Cheltenham Music Festival. Sally's artist residency
at Swedenborg House is supported by the Arts Council England.

Admission is free but capacity is limited, so if you would like to come please book in advance via
/ (020) 7405 7986. More info here. Please note this performance is not suitable for those aged under 16.


Event | 14 May 2012 | 7 pm

Patience (After Sebald) + Director's Q&A

On Monday 14 May we will present a very special screening in Swedenborg Hall of Patience (After Sebald), the new feature documentary on the writer WG Max Sebald. Following the screening, the film’s award-winning director Grant Gee will discuss Patience with the author Christopher Woodward, and both speakers will take questions from the floor. Sebald’s unique narrative voice unearthing other worlds in the topography of East Anglia, at once familiar and extraordinary, may be of interest to readers of Swedenborg. Philip French, film critic for the Observer, applauds this visual rendering of Sebald's writing, where 'Suffolk becomes a sort of palimpsest for his eloquent, precise, lugubrious, often drily witty meditations about war, death, destruction and decay, about memories and continuities and the feeling that nothing entirely disappears'. The documentary also features many faces which will be familiar to Swedenborg Hall audiences, including Iain Sinclair and Marina Warner

This screening will form part of the film's DVD launch with Soda Pictures, and copies of the DVD will be available at a discounted price. Admission is free but capacity is limited. More info here


Event | 24 May 2012 | 7 pm

Homero Aridjis with Ali Smith

Continuing the theme of landscape and narrative, on Thursday 24 May we will welcome the Mexican ‘Sun Poet’, Homero Aridjis to Swedenborg Hall. An award-winning poet and environmental activist, Aridjis is also a long-standing reader of Swedenborg. On 24 May he will present a new collection of visionary poems, A Time of Angels (2012), influenced by Swedenborg and published in English translation by City Lights (USA). JMG Le Clezio hails Aridjis' new book as 'a complex and combative body of work that makes him akin to some of the century’s most original voices—from Wilfred Owen and TS Eliot to Augusto Roa Bastos.' Aridjis will give readings, with commentary, from A Time of Angels, and will also read from his anthology Eyes to See Otherwise (2002). The English translations of Aridjis' poems will be read by acclaimed short story writer Ali Smith. Admission is free but as ever capacity is limited so we recommend that you book in advance. (Photograph by Chloe Aridjis). Thank you to the Fondo de Cultura Economica, without whose cooperation and support this event would not be possible. More info here.


Homero Aridjis’ poems open a door into the light. - Seamus Heaney

A visionary poet of lyrical bliss, crystalline concentrations and infinite spaces. - Kenneth Rexroth



Wordpress Blog

It started with Facebook, we moved on to Twitter and now the Swedenborg Society has finally entered the 'blogosphere' .... You can now read our new Wordpress Blog, regularly updated by staff at the Society. Read the blog for informal updates from the library, publishing office and curatorial team. Alex Murray, assistant librarian, has written some fascinating articles on visionary experience in the nineteenth century, inspired by his discoveries in the archive; meanwhile former intern Holly Catling's blogs offer an insight into the daily life of the Society; and more generally we have been attempting to be as informative as possible on books and events, posting pictures from the Remnants exhibition, news and reviews.

'Sign up' to follow the blog via email. The whole point of the blog is that it is totally interactive, so we welcome your comments and contributions Read the Swedenborg Society Wordpress Blog.

The Swedenborg Society Recommends ...

Jim Jarmusch & Jozef Van Wissem: Concerning the Entrance into Eternity

Jozef Van Wissem, 'easily the world's hippest lutanist', has created an extraordinary album with filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, inspired by Swedenborg's writing. Concerning the Entrance into Eternity (Important Records, 2012) contains melodies of exquisite depth, with Jozef's crystalline lute layered over the moody strains of Jarmusch's electric guitar.

Jim Jarmusch, award-winning director of films such as Dead Man (starring Johnny Depp as a wanderer named William Blake), met Van Wissem when looking for a film score. They soon discovered a shared interest in visionary writing, temporarily forgot about the film and formed a band. Jarmusch explains in an interview with Capital, 'It’s funny, because he’s like a Swedenborg freak, and I’m a William Blake freak. And he’s a William Blake fan, and I’m a big Swedenborg fan. So we mix our mystics.' The titles from the album are mostly taken from Swedenborg's writing, such as 'The Sun of the Natural World is Pure Fire' and 'Continuation of the Last Judgement.'

Some of you may remember Jozef Van Wissem's performance in Swedenborg Hall in October 2011, which featured tracks from his last album The Joy That Never Ends. Jozef will be touring Concerning the Entrance Into Eternity throughout the US and Europe, playing solo in London on May 2 and 4. (Unfortunately his bandmate is busy with the day job, making another film!) We recommend that you take this opportunity to hear the self-confessed 'punk lutanist' perform his musical interpretations of Swedenborg's ideas. It's certainly a singular experience.

Thank you for reading.

Upcoming Events

10 May: Eros & Psyche: a Storytelling Performance by Sally Pomme Clayton

14 May: Patience (After Sebald): Film Screening + Directo Q&A

24 May: Homero Aridjis + Ali Smith: Poetry Reading & Talk

28 June: Swedenborg Society AGM

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Swedenborg's Readers Walt Whitman

Whoever you are! you are he or she for whom the earth is solid / and liquid,

You are he or she for whom the sun and moon hang in the sky, / For none more than you are the present and the past, / For none more than you is immortality.

I swear the earth shall surely be complete to him or her who shall / be complete, / The earth remains jagged and broken only to him or her who / remains jagged and broken.

- Walt Whitman, extracts from 'A Song of the Rolling Earth', Leaves of Grass.

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