“Comment Peut-On ÍŠtre PaÍ¯en” (1981) is the alledged masterpiece by the French philosopher, politician and pagan Alain de Benoist (1943). The title means literary “how one can be pagan”, so the English translation doesn’t have such a strange title: On Being A Pagan. I read a Dutch translation though of which the title is Heiden Zijn Vandaag De Dag which means “being a pagan today”. The book is pretty old (1981), but it remains De Benoist’s most famous work and an English translation has just been made available by the publisher Ultra in 2005. The Dutch translation that I just bought is of 1986 (leftover copies of the 1997 second printing are still available). This Dutch translation is by the publisher Delta vzw from Belgium and comes in a series with the same title as the magazine of this publisher: TeKoS, being an abbreviation of “teksten, kommentaren, studies” or “texts, commentaries, studies”. So, with the writer and his publishers we have landed in the political corner that is called ‘new right’. This book has little to do with politics though.
I bought it because I was just curious what this famous Frenchman has to say, but mostly because I hoped that the title of the book would cover the content. Well, it does not! The book is not really about ‘being a pagan today’. Actually it is a tiring writing mostly against “Judeo-Christian” culture. De Benoist mixes philosophy (mostly Nietzsche, Heidegger and Evola) with theology practised on Christianity and Judaism (De Benoist often quotes Josy Eisenberg and Armand Abecassis), antropology and a little bit of history. The book is mostly filled with minute investigations of Christian and Jewish doctrines and the writers point are underbuilt with philosophy.
Only here and there the writer refers to the pagan faith, by which he means both Greek paganism and Northern-European paganism. Towards the end there is more attention for this. Actually the writer says what is not good about Judaism and Christianity instead of saying what would be a ‘pagan alternative’.
Given the ‘political background’ De Benoist is very mild towards Jews and Muslims. Judaism, Christianity and Islam as religion do not get much credit though, but the writer shows to be very well informed about them both.
I am pretty disappointed by this book because the title doesn’t really cover the content and the title suggests a more interesting book than it actually is. Also I am not too fond of ‘anti-books’ and this book is a bit too much of that. Some parts are interesting, but the larger part of this book I read only superficially.
Read quotes of De Benoist here.