Books of Frithjof Schuon:
New Translations with Selected Letters
Widely regarded as one of the greatest spiritual writers of the twentieth century, Schuon (1907-98) was an authority on an extraordinary range of religious and philosophical topics, and his books have been praised by scholars and spiritual teachers from many different traditions. He was also the leading representative of the perennialist or traditionalist school of comparative religious thought. Deeply rooted in the sophia perennis, philosophia perennis, or religio perennis—that is, the perennial wisdom, perennial philosophy, or perennial religion, as it has been variously called—Schuon’s perspective embodies the timeless and universal principles underlying the doctrines, symbols, sacred art, and spiritual practices of the world’s religions.
Each of Professor Cutsinger’s editions of Schuon’s writings includes an appendix of previously unpublished selections from the author’s letters and other private writings. Throughout his life Schuon carried on an extensive correspondence, much of it in response to questions posed by the many inquirers and visitors, from a variety of religious backgrounds, who looked to him for advice; over a thousand of his letters have been preserved. He also composed nearly twelve hundred short spiritual texts for close friends and associates, compiled in his later years as “The Book of Keys”. These and other private writings often contained the seeds of ideas that were later developed into published articles and chapters. The selections included in these editions will afford the reader a glimpse into a new and very rich dimension of this perennial philosopher’s message.
The breadth of Schuon’s erudition can be somewhat daunting, especially for those not accustomed to reading philosophical and religious works. The pages of his books contain numerous allusions to traditional theological doctrines, important philosophers or spiritual authorities, and the sacred Scriptures of the world’s religions, but a citation or other reference is not often provided. Professor Cutsinger therefore created a series of editor’s notes, organized by chapter and tagged to the relevant page numbers, for each book. Dates are provided for historical figures together with brief explanations as to the significance of their teachings for Schuon, and citations are given for his frequent quotations from the Bible, Koran, and other sacred texts. The Authorized Version of the Bible is used throughout; since the author made his own translations from the Koran, his French for these passages has been translated directly into English, though the Pickthall interpretation of the Arabic has been given a certain preference when Koranic quotations appear in Cutsinger’s editorial notes.
It is customary for Schuon to employ a number of technical terms in his writings, drawn from a multitude of traditions and involving several languages, including Arabic, Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit. With this in mind, Professor Cutsinger prepared a glossary for each new title as well; here one will find foreign terms and phrases appearing both in Schuon’s text and in Cutsinger’s editorial notes, together with translations and definitions.
Gnosis: Divine Wisdom (World Wisdom, 2006). Published in Paris in 1957 by La Colombe with the title Sentiers de Gnose and first translated in 1959 by G. E. H. Palmer for Perennial Books, the book appeared in a new French edition in 1987, and a third edition, revised and corrected by the author, was brought out by La Place Royale in 1996. [World Wisdom]
Sufism: Veil and Quintessence (World Wisdom, 2006). Published in Paris in 1980 by Dervy-Livres with the title Le Soufisme: Voile et Quintessence, the book first appeared in an English translation by William Stoddart with World Wisdom Books in 1981. [World Wisdom]
Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts (World Wisdom, 2007). Published in Paris in 1953 by Cahiers du Sud with the title Perspectives spirituelles et faits humains, the book was translated in 1954 by MacLeod Matheson for Faber and Faber and again in 1969 for Perennial Books by P. N. Townsend. [World Wisdom]
Christianity/Islam: Perspectives on Esoteric Ecumenism (World Wisdom, 2008). Published in Milan in 1981 by Arche with the title Christianisme/Islam: Visions d’œcuménisme ésotérique, the book was first translated by Gustavo Polit for World Wisdom Books in 1985. [World Wisdom]
Logic and Transcendence (World Wisdom, 2009). Published in Paris in 1970 by Editions Traditionnelles with the title Logique et Transcendance, the book was first translated by Peter N. Townsend for Perennial Books in 1975. [World Wisdom]