Dimitri Merezhkovski:
Atlantis-Europe, the Secret of the West (1930)

This book eponymous to mine, this earlier Secret of the West is unfortunately an unreadable huffy-puffy of undigestable stuff. This book is a shame; the editor should have protested and required a minimum of structure, of logic, i.e. of respect of the reader. The book was completed at age 64 by Russian author Dimitri Sergeyevich Merezhkovsky (DSM) in exile in France.

It is too great an honour for such an uncoherent book to be presented in an orderly fashion. It could give a wrong impression as to the clarity and inner logic of the contents. Anyway, I shall do my best to present a clear picture.

Dimitri Merezhkovsky contends in this Atlantis-Europe, the Secret of the West that Atlantis really existed, about 10,000 years ago. It was a large island, located in the central Atlantic Ocean. It had colonies around the ocean, in Western Africa, in Spain and in Central America. It was powerful and technologically advanced, it boasted a large population. It possessed a religion similar to Christianity, actually a Christianity number one. It had the cross, the man-god founder, love and peace as principles, and so on. Atlantis was a first humanity and it had a first Christ.

Then it was destroyed in a cataclysmic event involving volcanic eruptions and sank into the ocean. The Canary and the Azores Islands are the last remnants of this continent. Why was it destroyed? Because it had sunk into militarism and debauchery. It was punished by God for its sins (!)

Logical conclusions: follow my glance: naughty Europe is going to be punished the same way (written in 1930). And very soon! Because it is overwhelmed by debauchery and militarism (p.176-77). A war is looming and it shall be the end of the world (p.373). Conclusion – you guessed it – repent, dirty sinners, the end is nigh! That is, unless we listen to prophet Merezhkovsky. DSM urgently recommends Europeans to repent, unify under the guidance of Christ in a rejuvenated Church, and renounce war and non-marital sex, and the world shall be saved.

The world "mystery" in the Russian title was used in the old religious sense of secret truth (hence the "secret" of the English translation). This secret truth, as revealed by DSM, is that Europe is a second Atlantis, and that it is doomed as well. From the above, one could say that the book is mistitled. It should have been called something like:

A Second Atlantis – The Secret Destiny Of Europe.

A Second World War is looming, that we or our children will see, and which will lead to the end of the world. Merezhkovsky says: in fact, it will destroy only Europe, that is, the whole world (typical example of biased logic). In the whole book, the Africans play no role except for demonstrating briefly the early existence of Atlantis. The Asians, half of mankind, are mostly neglected. North America is forgotten altogether (most astonishing to today's reader), as are South America, except for its ancient civilizations useful as Atlantis-testimonies, and Australia.

The best part, the less befuddled, is the foreword where poor Merezhkovski tries to talk rationnaly and to demonstrate, from his meagre technical knowledge, that mankind (that is, in his logic, Europe...) shall not survive the next conflict. It says mainly that today's (1930') technology makes war so destructive that mankind couldn't survive.

Now a few positive comments for the end. The prediction of the Second World War was confirmed. It is all the more impressive that Merezhkovsky explicitly called it "the second world war" before such an expression existed. However, thinking of it twice, it is not as extraordinary a prediction as it sounds. At a time when large scale wars were regular (they were not yet eradicated by nuclear peace), forecasting another war did not request special abilities. Moreover, the other part of the prediction, namely that Europe and its civilization would disappear like Atlantis during this second world war, was not confirmed... As it was Merezhkovsky's main point for writing Atlantis-Europe, this prophecy failure actually makes the whole book pointless.

It was Merezhkovsky's merit, still, to feel that a war was coming at a time (the years 1928-29) when peace euphoria reigned supreme. Merezhkovsky writes that he felt "a dark side" to this peace euphoria, a component of the European psyche yearning for war. That is interesting. Unfortunately, as always with his obscure prose, he remains allusive. He does not say more about this "dark side" and about his feeling (what gave him this feeling? when did it start? more details?).

On the bright side, Atlantis-Europe was the result of a huge research work. This is seen in the sheer mass of myths, verses and archeological inscriptions quoted. There is as well some quotes from scientific literature. It looks great at first sight. One feels that the author had great capacities. It is a pity that this heavy work led to pure waffle and hot air. Had DMS not be plagued by a philological education, an exclusive company of religious and occultist cranks, and idleness, he might well have exploited his potential, built a strong, structured and logical mind, and produced much, much better large syntheses of the history of mankind.

Style and structure
The book is a terrible mess. The whole text is written in an obscure style, painful to read, losing the thread every line, heavy in useless quotes. The book shamelessly mixes biblical quotes with (not referenced) scientists' declarations and mythological stories and self-invented stories. Reading this book is a grueling task.

For example, the chapter with title "Lunar Titans" is devoted to other, unrelated, subjects. It mentions the titans in question only once and briefly. Other example: the elements "proving" that ancient Atlantis existed are scattered randomly throughout the text, and not concentrated in the first chapters about Atlantis, as they should. Yet another example: the cause of the disappearance of Atlantis is mentioned several times in the first chapters and then introduced as brandnew to the reader in the middle of the book... and again in the last chapters as if new. Either the author has forgotten he had talked about that earlier, or (my hypothesis) he wholly lacks a structured and logical mind.

Particularly painful for the reader is the constant absence of structure. DSM starts to talk about a myth A without saying why, then about a obstruse reflexion unconnected with the preceding, still without saying why it should be relevant, then about myth B, without any link, and so on. It lasts this way along 450 pages.

In short this book is a tiresome tangle of unrelated mythological stories and delirious inventions inbetween.

The author made a great deal of research to write this book. Unfortunately, it is mostly useless since many of the myths and verses mentioned are of little help for his purpose of demonstrating the existence of Atlantis and of first "Christs" teaching to the peoples of the "first humanity" (Atlantis-era people). Most of the mythological and religious "evidence" is weak. Most of the scientific evidence is completed outdated now (in 2002). Probably the mass of mythological stories is also destined to impress the reader, but useless for the purpose of the narrative.

Biased Logic
The text is full of logical errors. Element A is taken as a consequence of B in one paragraph, than as cause of B in the next paragraph. A circular logic sets in, allowing to "demonstrate" absolutely anything.

–Example 1 (circular logic): Step 1 today's European militarism, which puts Europe at risk, is the proof that Atlantis disappeared through war. Step 2: the disappearance of Atlantis through war demonstrates that militarism will destroy Europe...

–Example 2 (poor deduction): the Atlantic ocean's name is a proof that Atlantis existed. DSM is convinced that an ocean cannot be named after a myth... as if the Pacific ocean was peaceful or as if Greenland was green... Both received their names from wishful thinking...

–Example 3 (miserable reasoning): The book was written in France. This, according to Merezhkovski, is a "sign" of its fateful importance because France is historically such a pivotal country (p.399). This is yet another example of sloppy reasoning. A situation that one can oneself trigger is not the effect of some outside providence. Besides, all books written in France could then claim to be divinely-led...

Analogic thought replaces logic thought.
Some parts are purely invented. When DSM did not find myths or archeological texts that would suit his expectations, he just invented a story.

Frustrating allusive style
Sometimes, Merezhkovsky seems to know something interesting, but he alludes to it and does not go further. The reader remains stuck in question marks. Example: DSM contends that the bolchevik regime plaguing Russia survived there 90% due to internal strength and 10% due to external help. About this external help, he mentions an "invisible hand" from the West, which seems obvious to him, and says nothing more. It is a pity, one would like to know if, once, DSM would have known something interesting, something else than pure waffle.

A kind of mix of Däniken-Jehovah-Jung
Atlantis-Europe painfully looks like a mix between Erich von Daeniken, Jehovah's Witnesses litterature, nuclear-end-of-the-worldism and Carl-Gustav Jung.

Like Erich von Daeniken, DSM gathers all kinds of obscure old mythological stories, interprets them according to his own fantasms, and proclaims the resulting interpretation definitive truth. Example: a quote from ancient Hittite legend talking of a country of large meadows inhabited by giants and astonishing big animals and located in the West. According to him, the prairies are doubtless the Argentinian pampa, the big animals are bisons (forgetting the latter lived in North America, not in Argentina) and he forgets altogether the part with the giants. Thus Merezhkovsky is sure to have demonstrated that the Hittites knew about America...

Such poor reasoning is typical of the whole book and reminds of Däniken. However, unlike his famous successor, DSM did not strike gold. His themes were less selling than Daeniken's. Atlantis was to be annihilated in the following decades by the discovery that the mid-Atlantic ridge is no remnant of a sunken island, but the wound left by the opening of the sub-oceanic plate under the shift in opposite directions of Europe and America. Whereas the extraterrestrials are still around with us. They will need much, much more time before they are ruled out or shown to be mundane creatures (and not the dreamlike beings of Daeniken's books). And DSM's Christian beliefs (or his own version of christianity) is less in tone with the spirit of the time than technologically advanced extraterrestrial visitors. Thus Daeniken became world famous and rich while Merezhkovsky remained on the sideline.

Like the Jehovah's witnesses (and, to varying extents, all other Christian groups), DSM's book is end-of-the-worldist. DSM was obsessed by the idea that the apocalypse was looming. Any information about 1929's world was forcefully wrenched to fit into this mold. Surprisingly, however, Merezhkovsky oversaw the October 1929 krach in Wall Street. Which better harbinger of the end than the worldwide financial meltdown, one could think. DSM finished writing his book by end of December 1929 but did not mention this event.

Because of his end-of-the-worldism, DSM artificially darkened all reality. For example he claimed that Europe was sliding into war and debauchery. As if war was a new phenomenon in the 1920s, or extra-marital sex... Had the supreme god not tolerated military activities, it seems that he would have stopped the world long, long time ago... And debauchery? DSM never says what he really means by this word. Does he mean extra-marital sex, or too much sexual activity altogether? And what did he observe around him to motivate that impression? Was he observing a rise of extra-marital sex? Nothing of that is ever explained in the book. Instead, one swims in obscure mythical quotes. One wonders if DSM was not simply repenting for his "ménage à trois" with Gippius and Filosov... of the time when he practised a quite open sexual life... Moreover, one can't help thinking that DSM' view is extremely naive. According to him, the supreme god will only react upon these two behaviours (wars and sex), as if there was, otherwise, simply no sin in the world...

Like Jung, DSM relied on analogic / pseudo-logic links. He was interested in resemblances, he looked at ancient myths from all around the world, noticed that two myths were similar and immediately "deducted" without further inquiry that they had a common origin (you guessed it: Atlantis). Whereas Jung, who was similarly analogy-obsessed, interpreted analogies as testimony for the collective unconscious of all human beings. Other typical instance: DSM notices that crosses were found in ruins in Creta and in Maya lands, thus he straightforwardly concludes that these regions knew a first version of Christianity. He does not realize that a cross, a very basic symbol, could be discovered easily by different peoples without any Christian inspiration.

Scientific argumentation
The scientific evidence brought up to justify his claim that Atlantis existed is sad to read now because it is completely outdated. These "proofs" have found inbetween other explanations than the existence of Atlantis. The presence of an undersea mountain chain in the middle of the Atlantic ocean is identified as the dorsal chain produced by solidified lava risen to the surface as the two continental plates of Europe and North America come apart. The similarities in animal and plant fossils on both sides of the Atlantic (pp.97-98) is seen now as a consequence of the contiguity of the two continents millions of years ago, before they drifted apart. Some undersea material were produced when the ground was under open air: this is seen now as the consequence of the fluctuation of sea levels.

The story of the bearded gods adored by Central American peoples and said to have landed in Central America coming from the East can be easily explained as the story of some European sailor stranded a few centuries before Columbus, surviving per chance. This is much more plausible as a whole disappeared continent. Not to mention that, had the Atlant empire existed, with colonies around the Atlantic ocean, then there would have been many more bearded visitors ("gods") in Central America, and not just one.

For the ressemblance in animal and plant forms on both sides of the ocean: the continental shift. For the ressemblance of Central American pyramids and Egyptian pyramids: pure chance. The sea loathe of Aztecs (p.206), due to their memory of the cataclysm according th DSM, is simply untrue: the Aztecs sailed all the way to the Inca empire to trade. And so on...


Atlantis-Europe: The Secret Of The West
The titles and dates of Merezhkovsky's trilogy
Russian versions and translations, with dates

1925: Tajna Trech. Egipet i Vavilon. Prag 1925;
–German translation: Das Geheimnis des Ostens, Berlin 1924.
–French translation: Les Mystères de l'Orient, Paris 1927.

1930: Tajna Zapada. Atlantida-Evropa, Belgrad 1930

(in Russian "The Mystery of the West: Atlantis-Europe")

–German translation: Das Geheimnis des Westens – Atlantis-Europa, Betrachtungen über die letzten Dinge, Grethlein, Leipzig&Zürich 1930 (translated by Arthur Luther).
–Portuguese translation: Atlântida-Europa: O Mistério do Ocidente. Belgrado, 1930.
–English translation: The Secret of the West, Brewer, Warren & Putnam, 1931 (translated by John Cournos). Republished 1971: Atlantis/Europe:The Secret of The West, Rudolph Steiner Publications 1971, 449 p.
–Italian translation: Atlantida, Ulrico Hoepli, Milano, 1937.
–Spanish translation: Atlantida-Europa, 1944
–French translation: Atlantide-Europe, le Mystère de l'Occident, L'Age d'Homme, Lausanne, 1995 (translated by Constantin Andronikof), p.415.

1932-34: Iisus Neizvestnyj, Belgrad 1932-34.
1932: Jesus, der Unbekannte, Leipzig 1932.
1946: Jésus inconnu, Rhône, Genève 1946, 364 p.. (Trad. du russe par Dumesnil de Gramont)
1934: Jesus, der Kommende, Frauenfeld 1934.

Atlantide-Europe: Le Mystère de l'Occident, édition 1995, L'Age d'Homme, Lausanne (Suisse)
Le "mystère" du titre doit être compris au sens de "doctrine secrète dont la révélation devait apporter le salut, dans certaines religions anciennes" ou "vérité de foi inaccessible à la raison et qui ne peut être connu que par une révélation divine".

Quatrième de couverture (édition 1995):
"La guerre ou la paix ? Non pas dilemme, mais choix des hommes. La "première humanité", celle de l'"Atlantide" historique ou mythique, avait opté pour la guerre et péri par l'eau. La "deuxième", la nôtre, de plus en plus divisée par les civilisations, les mentalités, les idéologies, sera-t-elle vouée à se détruire par le feu?
Quant à cet élément fondamental, "lave restée incandescente du chaos" : le sexe, notre monde est pris entre des tentations contraires : l'Androgyne ou l'unité conjugale, ou Sodome et la débauche, Adam et Eve "à l'image et à la ressemblance" du Dieu de la paix ou à celle du prince du mensonge, de l'anarchie et de la guerre.
"La religion initiale de l'humanité" avait ardemment désiré l'Age d'Or, que l'Age de Fer a supplanté. Ses vestiges, monuments, rites et coutumes s'étendent du Yucatan jusqu'à Babylone et à l'Egypte, en passant par l'Erythrée, la Crète, Chypre, les Druides, les Curètes... Cette religion constitue le mystère profond de l'Atlantide-Occident, et ses " divinités souffrantes ", de Quetzalcoatl à Adonis, étaient comme des " ombres prophétiques " du Messie Rédempteur à venir.
Mérejkovsky expose et précise toute cette tragédie avec une érudition ethnique, historique et théologique qui donnerait le vertige si elle ne comportait pas une problématique aussi immémoriale que brûlante et s'il n'indiquait pas la seule solution, d'essence religieuse. En particulier, il pose constructivement le problème d'amener l'humanisme païen, antique et moderne, au christianisme, afin de "réconcilier l'Occident avec lui-même".
Quant au détail pratique de l'existence de l'Atlantide, Mérejkovsky remarque que s'il est possible, à l'instar des paléontologues, de reconstituer un monstre antédiluvien, il est impossible de l'inventer. Il en va de même pour les mythes. Celui de la première humanité est resté si vivace dans l'histoire qu'il n'est guère vraisemblable qu'il soit le fruit d'une simple invention "poétique". Il a pour origine un mystère, au sens religieux, dont le principe s'est perpétué jusqu'à nos jours, en tant qu'idéal révélé à l'humanité. Serait-il trop tard pour s'efforcer de l'atteindre ?" L'Age d'Homme, 417 pages, ISBN 28251-0561-9

Websites applauding Atlantis-Europe
(1) (Apr 01)
Atantide-Europe ou le mystère de l'Occident
Dimitri Mérejkovski
Un livre phare, érudit, brillant, écrit avant la seconde guerre mondiale, et qui pourtant éclaire cruellement les dérives de notre fin de siècles. Un livre exigeant et pourtant nécessaire (19 août 1999).

(2) http// (Apr 01)
En réfléchissant à ces questions, nous avons songé à Dimitri Mérejkovsky et à son livre immense, Atlantide-Europe, le Mystère de l'Occident. Russe orthodoxe, érudit sans lacune, Mérejkovsky avait assimilé l'ensemble des traditions du monde chrétien et des héritages dont il s'est nourri. Ces temps de guerre et de chaos sont aussi les temps qui confirment sa vision. Comme Platon, il a placé la première Atlantide à la source de notre civilisation. Conquérante, superbe, technicienne et belliqueuse : telle qu'elle est restée dans l'arrière-mémoire des peuples, telle elle réapparaît aujourd'hui pour clore l'ère chrétienne.
Mort en 1940, Mérejkovsky n'a pas vu la création du Pacte Atlantique, de l'Otan, chargé de perpétuer les divisions de l'Europe. Il n'a pas vu cette fin de siècle ahurissante où notre continent se dissout alors qu'il est «protégé» par l'alliance militaire la plus puissante de tous les temps, qui couvre la zone atlantique de ses engins et de ses signaux et qui pourtant reste impuissante devant la mort démographique et culturelle, la corruption intérieure de ses peuples! Non pas seulement impuissante : complice de ceux qui veulent leur mort!
Comme elle l'a fait une fois déjà dans la nuit des temps, la civilisation atlantique est en voie de se saborder au sommet de sa puissance. Visionnaire, Mérejkovsky annonçait dès les années 30 le naufrage de la Seconde guerre mondiale, et sa continuation actuelle: la guerre menée par l'Occident contre l'Orient européen, au travers de l'agression de l'OTAN contre la Serbie.