Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century” as Want to Read:
Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  146 ratings  ·  21 reviews
The first history of Traditionalism, an important yet surprisingly little-known twentieth-century anti-modern movement. Comprising a number of often secret but sometimes very influential religious groups in the West and in the Islamic world, it affected mainstream and radical politics in Europe and the development of the field of religious studies in the United States.

In t
Hardcover, 370 pages
Published June 3rd 2004 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2004)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  146 ratings  ·  21 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it
A fascinating book about the Traditionalist movement, told through the life stories of Rene Guènon, Julius Evola, Sayyid Hossein Nasr and several of its other major proponents. Traditionalism was created as a response to the disenchantment of the world by secular modernity. It was intended to revive mankind’s spiritual life and reverse the catastrophic collapse of values and meaning in the contemporary world. As part of this effort Traditionalism helped spur new movements expressed through Sufi ...more
Charles J
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is an academic study of an obscure movement, Traditionalism. The name has a specific meaning; it does not mean traditional forms of belief, that is, generically, conservatism. Rather, “Traditionalism” is a type of Gnosticism, holding that a core of hidden knowledge, contained within all true religion, is the cure for what ails the modern world. I certainly think that the modern world needs curing, though I don’t think that Traditionalism is what the doctor ordered. Still, the pull of G ...more
Matthew W
May 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
"Against the Modern World" is the only book that academically documents the history of what is known as Traditionalism (or "Guenonism"), an ambition secret metaphysical intellectual movement that rejects the values of the modern world, originally sprouted and heavily influenced by René Guénon.

Traditionalists have attempted to influence the world within various world revolutions/movements/sects/what-have-you, but have mostly failed. My interest in reading this book came from the fact that Julius
Jul 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed. Period. I was hoping for an in-depth study of Rene Guenon (1886-1951) and the anti-modernist spiritual movement called Tradtionalism. The purported premise of Traditionalism (which seeks to reverse the effects of the Enlightenment and return human society to theocentrism, something akin to getting the genie back into the lamp.

Traditionalism can be described as a throw-back to the thought of Marcilio Ficono (1533-1599) who posed that there was a primordial unity to all religio
Tim Pendry
May 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Specialists in esoteric or extremist political history

A useful addition to the intellectual history bookshelf. Sedgwick explores the highways and by-ways of that mode of thinking which brings perennialism, initiation into a tradition and anti-modernism together to make a potent brew that has had effects on areas as diverse as the academic study of religion (Eliade), Western engagement with Islam (Guenon), Italian right wing terrorism (Evola) , Iranian Islamic thought (Nasr) and Russian politics (Dugin and the National Bolsheviks) amongst many other
Sean Sullivan
Sep 11, 2007 rated it did not like it
I never said I had refined tastes. Anytime a book has got “secret” and “intellectual history” in the subtitle, I am definitely interested. Plus, its published by Oxford University Press, so how bad could it be?

Pretty bad actually.

A note to all my academic motherfuckers out there reading this – pick a neat subject matter, like, say, bonkers Europeans interested in fascism, masons and Sufism, and a publisher will sign you up, even if you can’t write your way out of paper bag.

A note to Mr. Sedgwick
Frederik Vandelannoote
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: traditionalism
This book is the first, and more important, an exellent overview on the history of Traditionalism. It contains short biographies of all the main caracters and deals with the impact of their ideas on society. The book is very well researched and above all very neutral in tone. A recommended read.
Sep 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
There is some interesting info gathered here, but there are many errors. Eliade and Dugin do not belong in the same category as Guenon and Evola. Eliade was partially influenced by Guenon but did not accept some major tenets of traditional metaphysics (in fact, he did not really understand it) and Dugin is just a rhetorician/politician who takes some inspiration from the general ideas of Guenon and similar authors.

It could be a good starting point, but those interested should just read the rele
Sep 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
I will most definitely not be recommending this self-promoting work which is tabloidesque, market-driven, and loaded with errors.
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Ari by: Cosma Shalizi
Traditionalism might be one of the more important intellectual trends you've never heard of. The basic principles are that all ancient religions embody true wisdom -- and the same true wisdom. This wisdom has been lost from the modern world, and the way to recover it is to find yourself an ancient religion, and join it. The Traditionalists were especially enthusiastic about Hinduism, Buddhism, and (Sufi) islam.

This book unhappily has the usual vices of academic writing. It's an exhaustive -- an
Британський історик Марк Седжвік стверджує, що його книга це перша спроба написати історію традиціоналізму. Традиціоналізм тут слід розуміти не в широкому сенсі, як синонім консерватизму. Йдеться про конкретний напрямок думки, започаткований Рене Геноном у 1920-х роках і розвинений його послідовниками.

Написати історію цього явища не така проста задача, як може здатись, бо більшість традиціоналістичних організацій намагались широко не афішувати свої діяльність, або взагалі були таємними. Седжвік
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-ed
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robert Heckner
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a very informative and well-written book. It presents the history of Guenon’s philosophical movement, Traditionalism, sympathetically but never ideologically. It is well-researched and argued but never overly-dense. I have a much better understanding of the history and ideas of Guenonian Traditionalism after reading this book. It is also extremely useful in charting the political history of Evola and his followers, present the turn towards fascism not as an inevitability of Traditionalis ...more
Historians of esoteric or occult thought generally go around with a chip on their shoulder about the way their field is ignored and, allegedly, ridiculed by historians writ large. There’s some truth to it, and some make a good case for the importance of their field to intellectual history writ large- Earl Fontainelle on his very enjoyable podcast, “The SHWEP” (Secret History of Western Esotericism Podcast), for instance. But in some cases the desire to prove that esoteric thought was important, ...more
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
The best book I have read on Traditionalism I have read, and the best academic study available. Don't expect a lot about the fascist side of Traditionalism, it is not the primary focus of the book. It spends most of the time looking at Western Sufism. It was fascinating to learn the diversity of Traditionalism, which primarily does not fall to the far-right, according to Sedgwick.
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Certainly one of the most entertaining while informative studies in the history of religion you can read. His methodology could be better, as well as the structuring, but then again histories with multiple locations and foci is (well, because, it's history) no linear thing. Highly recommended!
Yousef Shaaban
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
3 stars for the light shed on Guenon's life.
John Aaron
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A Profound and Critical Study of an Influential - but Often Hidden, Philosophy

Like many others, I was influenced by the Traditionalists without actually reading Guenon or Schuon. Their pretensions, lack of serious scholarship, and simply ridiculous ideas were enough to keep me away. But their followers? Huston Smith? Eliade? I took their works very seriously - as did many others - without seeing the underlying - and frankly disguised - assumptions.

Traditionalism has influenced every area of rel
Roger Green
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Although this book is largely about a small group of intellectuals, Sedgwick is able to show the far-ranging impact of Traditionalist thinkers such as René Guénon, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Julius Evola, Frithjof Schuon, and Mircea Eliade. At times aligned with far-right politics, these thinkers' sentiments are weirdly echoed in current anti-globalization nationalisms and the populist spread of conservatism.
Mel Bontje
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Hoge informatiedichtheid, maar voelt soms als een (te lange) opsomming van feiten en gebeurtenissen. Vooral de introductie leest goed weg; was het gehele boek in dezelfde stijl voortgezet, dan zou dit boek toegankelijker zijn geweest. De ontoegankelijkheid draagt wel bij aan de esoterische zweem die bij het onderwerp van het boek hoort.
May 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Leave it to orientalists.....
Ellery Beard
rated it liked it
Sep 14, 2017
João He.
rated it liked it
Jun 23, 2018
rated it it was amazing
Jan 28, 2019
rated it really liked it
Nov 17, 2018
rated it liked it
Feb 13, 2012
Said Abuzeineh
rated it really liked it
Oct 15, 2017
Brian Ray
rated it really liked it
Mar 15, 2018
Edgar Vilkonchus
rated it really liked it
Jul 08, 2017
Joshua Zan
rated it really liked it
Aug 18, 2017
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Confessions
  • The Imitation of Christ
  • Journey to the End of the Night
  • Independent People
  • A Secular Age
  • Leaving the Atocha Station
  • Underworld
  • A Fragile Life: Accepting Our Vulnerability
  • Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt
  • Ice
  • Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel
  • Apology
  • Death Comes for the Archbishop
  • The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
  • Tampa
  • Frankissstein: A Love Story
  • Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed
  • Plato: Complete Works
See similar books…
Mark Sedgwick graduated with an MA from the Honour School of Modern History, University of Oxford in 1986. He gained his PhD in the Department of History at the University of Bergen in 1999. He has been a Professor in the Department of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Denmark, since 2011.

Related Articles

Famous people! Are they really just like us? In the case of these individuals, the answer is a resounding yes when it comes to loving book...
3 likes · 0 comments