Birthday: May 19, 1898
Died At Age: 76
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Baron Giulio Cesare Andrea Evola
Born Country: Italy
Born in: Rome, Italy
Famous as: Philosopher
father: Vincenzo Evola
mother: Concetta Mangiapane
Died on: June 11, 1974
place of death: Rome, Italy
Cause of Death: Heart Failure
Julius Evola was a 20th century Italian painter, poet, writer, philosopher, and occultist. A polymath and a polyglot, he initially began his career in arts and became one of the prominent Italian painters and poets during the Dadaist movement. His writing career spanned five and a half decades and his numerous books and essays reflect his esoteric views on traditionalism, orientalism, occultism, alchemy and mysticism. He courted controversy through his writings that criticized Christianity and instead upheld traditional Roman and ancient mystical values. His interpretation of Buddhism was equally bizarre wherein he praised its ‘anti-democratic’ concept and even hailed it as a true ‘Aryan’ tradition that was lost and corrupted in the West. Julius Evola believed in the traditional gender roles where women subjugated themselves to men wilfully. Similarly, his thoughts on race supremacy, Fascism, war favouring ideology, and anti-Semitism got him close to Mussolini and prominent Nazi officers during World War II. After the war, he wrote books outlining right wing perspectives at the same time critiquing the decadence brought on by Modernist approaches. Not surprisingly, his works are loathed by centrists and liberals today, but hold a lot of sway with various right-wing groups and organizations across the globe.
Childhood & Early Life
Julius Evola was born on 19 May 1898, in Rome to Vincenzo Evola and Concetta Mangiapane, who had migrated from Sicily. He had one older brother, Giuseppe Evola.
He enrolled into a mathematical course in Rome but left midway through the course because he wanted to disassociate himself from ‘bourgeois’ educational titles like mathematician, engineer etc.
In his teenage years, he gravitated towards painting, something which he considered to be a natural talent. His other interests were literature and philosophy, and he was heavily influenced by the works of Oscar Wilde, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Otto Weininger and Friedrich Nietzsche among many others.
During World War I, he served as an artillery officer in a unit stationed on the Asiago Plateau.
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He took an immediate liking for the artistic anti-establishment Dadaist movement that emerged in 1919 and initially contributed through his paintings and poetry.
By 1923, however, he had completely lost all interest in painting and poetry. He reasoned that his artistic activities were but an identity crisis from the war, and he feared that if he indulged this crisis any further, it could have led to suicide, much like what other Dadaists did at the time.
From 1923 to 1927, Evola immersed himself into philosophy and learnt German so that he could read and understand the works of Hegel, Fichte and Schelling. He then published his own writings like ‘Saggi Sull’idealismo Magico’ about the theory of ‘magical idealism’ and introduced the doctrine of ‘absolute individual’ in ‘Teoria Dell’individuo Assoluto’ and again in ‘Fenomenologia Dell’individuo Assoluto’.
Between 1927 and 1929, he got involved in the study of occultism and esotericism. It was during this period that he co-founded the ‘Ur Group’ with the goal of explaining esoteric doctrines through translation and publication of texts, and even perform occult warfare to some extent.
While he was somewhat sympathetic to the Fascist principle of Mussolini, his writings about the failings of Christianity, as well as his opposition to the 1929 Lateran treaty between the Italian State and the Vatican that granted independent sovereignty to the Holy See, made him unpopular among influential Fascists.
He wrote four books about race, wherein he argued for the supremacy of a ‘spiritual race’ as opposed to one governed by the laws of genetics. Naturally, Nazi Germans were highly critical of his non-biological and anti-materialistic race views, whereas Mussolini enthusiastically endorsed his ideas and even met him in person in 1941 and praised his book, ‘Sintesi di Dottrina Della Razza’.
When the Allied forces captured Rome in June 1944, Julius Evola evaded arrest by fleeing to Vienna, Austria. A year later, when the Soviets dropped bombs on Vienna, a shell fragment lodged into his spinal cord and paralysed him from the waist down for the rest of his life.
In 1951, he was arrested on charges of promoting and glorifying Fascism, with the intention of reviving the Fascist Party. In court, he argued that while his ideas certainly drew from a long line of Traditionalist and anti-democratic thinking, it differed greatly from Mussolini’s Fascist regime. The court agreed with his argument and acquitted him.
After the World War II, he continued to write on esoteric subjects. His books on sex magic included ‘Metafisica Del Sesso’ and even wrote a couple of books on politics, namely ‘Gli Uomini e le Rovine’ and ‘Cavalcare la Tigre’.
Towards his final years, he wrote a few books describing his take on right-wing perspectives, namely ‘Il Fascismo Visto Valla Destra; Note sul Terzo Reich’ and ‘Ricognizioni: Uomini e Problemi’.
His intellectual biography titled ‘Il Cammino del Cinabro’ was first published in 1963. It is unique because it describes his intellectual development as opposed to mundane aspects like one’s childhood, adulthood, relationships, etc. It’s English translation, ‘The Path of Cinnabar’ came out in 2009.
Family & Personal Life
Julius Evola is said to have led a hermetic life, free of any romantic relationships or progeny. He was always apprehensive about discussing his personal life either in interviews or in his autobiography.
Despite his paralysis, he endured his condition with stoicism. He always had time for visitors and friends. While he did not like the idea of disciples, he would jokingly refer to his admirers as ‘Evalomani’.
He died of heart failure on 11th June 1974 in his apartment in Rome at the age of 76. His body was cremated and in accordance to his will, his ashes were placed in an urn and buried in a crevasse somewhere in the Italian Alps.