Henry Corbin's books
Avicenna and the Visionary Recital
Henry Corbin, Princeton University Press, 1990, 440 pages, ISBN 978-0691018935
n this work a distinguished scholar of Islamic religion examines the mysticism and psychological thought of the great eleventh-century Persian philosopher and physician Avicenna (Ibn Sina), author of over a hundred works on theology, logic, medicine, and mathematics. Henry Corbin’s discovery in an Istanbul library of the manuscript of a Persian translation of and commentary on Avicenna’s Hayy ibn Yaqzan, written in Arabic, led him to an analysis of three of Avicenna’s mystical “recitals.” These form an initiatory cycle leading the adept along the path of spiritual progress. In Part I Corbin summarizes the great themes that show the philosophical situation of Avicennan man in the cosmos and presents translations of these three great Avicennan recitals. Part II is a complete translation, with notes, of the Persian commentary.
Originally published in 1960. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn 'Arabi
Henry Corbin, Translated by Ralph Manheim, Princeton university press, 1998, 454 pages, ISBN: 9780691058344
“Henry Corbin’s works are the best guide to the visionary tradition…. Corbin, like Scholem and Jonas, is remembered as a scholar of genius. He was uniquely equipped not only to recover Iranian Sufism for the West, but also to defend the principal Western traditions of esoteric spirituality.” – From the introduction by Harold Bloom
Ibn ‘Arabi (1165-1240) was one of the great mystics of all time. Through the richness of his personal experience and the constructive power of his intellect, he made a unique contribution to Shi’ite Sufism. In this book, which features a powerful new preface by Harold Bloom, Henry Corbin brings us to the very core of this movement with a penetrating analysis of Ibn ‘Arabi’s life and doctrines.
Corbin begins with a kind of spiritual topography of the twelfth century, emphasizing the differences between exoteric and esoteric forms of Islam. He also relates Islamic mysticism to mystical thought in the West. The remainder of the book is devoted to two complementary essays: on “Sympathy and Theosophy” and “Creative Imagination and Creative Prayer.” A section of notes and appendices includes original translations of numerous Sufi treatises.
Harold Bloom’s preface links Sufi mysticism with Shakespeare’s visionary dramas and high tragedies, such as The Tempest and Hamlet. These works, he writes, intermix the empirical world with a transcendent element. Bloom shows us that this Shakespearean cosmos is analogous to Corbin’s “Imaginal Realm” of the Sufis, the place of soul or souls.
History Of Islamic Philosophy
Henry Corbin, Routledge, 2001, 445 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0710304162
Published here for the first time in English, this highly important work by Henry Corbin, the Islamic scholar, philosopher, and historian of religion, is a definitive interpretation of traditional Islamic philosophy from the beginning to the present day. In this authoritative volume, Corbin makes clear the great themes of the doctrinal and mystical vision of Islamic philosophy through a wealth of comparative parallels and in relation to the most profound currents of Western philosophy. Corbin’s History of Islamic Philosophy is both an inspirational book and an essential work of reference, enabling readers to discover for themselves the richness of this body of thought.
The Voyage and the Messenger: Iran and Philosophy
Henry Corbin, North Atlantic Books, 1998, 296 pages, ISBN: 978-1-55643-269-9
This work, incorporating previously unpublished interviews and articles, retraces the quest of Henry Corbin into the imaginal realm of the unseen self, the domains of angels and numinous beings. A study of religious philosophy, exploration of visionary faith, these pages offer a superb meditation of the great themes of Perso-Islamic mysticism—the Sufi theory of knowledge, the voyage within the soul, le rituel de la coupe—and an illuminating glimpse into the philosophic universes of Sohravardi, Ibn Arabi, and Molla Sarda Shirazi.
Cyclical Time & Ismaili Gnosis
Henry Corbin, Kegan Paul, 1983, 212 pages, ISBN 0 7103 0048 4
The volume Cyclical Time and Ismaili Gnosis brings together in English translation three of Henry Corbin’s richest and most complex studies, originally presented at the Eranos conferences of 1951 and 1954 and another conference in 1956. Each of these three relatively early studies is built around a complex, highly creative ‘comparison’ of the phenomenological correspondences between texts (often highly fragmentary) from a vast range of spiritual traditions from late Antiquity (including Manichaenism and the sects of Sassanid Iran) – all ‘gnostic’ in the root Greek sense of that term favoured by Corbin, though not in the narrower historical sense used by most contemporary scholars – and comparable spiritual themes in an equally wide range of Islamic texts eventually preserved in the later Ismaili Shi‘i tradition. The Islamic texts and writers examined here cover many centuries, regions (from Egypt to Central Asia) and radically differing religious and philosophic perspectives, and marvellously illustrate the rich creativity, diversity and assimilative powers of Islamic thought in the early centuries of that civilization. (Despite the richness and complexity of the comparisons developed here, the author is not concerned with proving ‘historical’ connections, but rather the sorts of recurrent, archetypal spiritual inspirations and speculations which were the focus of the Eranos group.) While the comparative, phenomenological method is that popularly associated with Corbin’s close friend, Mircea Eliade, the density, sophistication and dramatic literary intensity of Corbin’s writing are of an entirely different order.
Temple and Contemplation
Henry Corbin, Kegan Paul International , 1986, 413 pages, ISBN (Hardback): 0 7103 0129 4
Henry Corbin’s Temple and Contemplation beautifully translated here by Philip Sherrard, was one of his final, densest and most personally revealing and impassioned writings. It is made up of five Eranos lectures (whose specific annual themes usually explain the particular titles and emphases of each of these works), most of them delivered near the end of his life, which Prof. Corbin brought together and which were eventually published posthumously (in 1980) under this richly evocative title. Together, these five studies – several of them long enough to be substantial books in their own right – are woven together by the central unifying themes of all of his work: spiritual contemplation as the finality of human existence, and the ‘worlds’ (of sacred time and sacred space, all connected symbolically with the root meanings of ‘temple’) which are revealed, explored and traversed through the primordial contemplative ‘work’ of sacred liturgy and prayer. Each of the first four studies explores those themes from the starting–point of one or two key Islamic texts (usually Shi‘i in origin), while the final paper – a literary and philosophic tour de force in which Corbin was clearly attempting to summarize for his Eranos (and therefore largely European) audience the very essence of his life’s work – weaves together an astonishing tapestry illustrating the same themes as they emerge through virtually all the constituent threads of Western civilization, from the Bible down to our own time. This may not be the easiest place to start reading Henry Corbin, but it is almost certainly the most explicit, personal and evocative statement of what he understood all his work to have been about.
Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam
Henry Corbin Swedenborg Foundation, 1995, 172 pages. ISBN 978-0877851837
This volume makes two essays by Henry Corbin, the eminent French scholar of Islam, available in English for the first time. Although his primary interest was the esoteric tradition of Islam, Corbin was also a lifelong student of the theological works of Emanuel Swedenborg. The first essay, “Mundus Imaginalis, or The Imaginary and the Imaginal,” clarifies Corbin’s use of the term he coined, mundus imaginalis, or “the imaginal world.” This important concept appears in both Swedenborgian and esoteric Islamic spirituality. The second piece, “Comparative Spiritual Hermeneutics,” compares the revelation of the internal sense of the sacred boks of two distinct religions, Christianity and Islam.
Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth: From Mazdean Iran to Shi'ite Iran
Henry Corbin, Translated by Nancy Pearson, Princeton university press, 1989, 372 pages. ISBN: 9780691018836
An analysis of interrelated themes in Iranian religion, including the angelology of Mazdaism and Islamic Shi’ite concepts of spirit-body identity.