A Very Square Peg: A Podcast Series about Polymath Robert Eisler. Episode 9: Vanity of Vanities


In this episode, I look at Eisler’s last days in England, where he found that the Oxford readership he had been promised before being sent to Dachau was taken by someone else, a paper shortage had put a stop to academic publishing, and that foreign Jews without visas were being imprisoned in a British internment camp on the Isle of Man. I also talk with astrology scholar Dr. Nicholas Campion about Eisler’s scathing criticisms of newspaper astrological columns and unpack Eisler’s final scholarly works on folklore, philology, and ethics. This episode officially concludes the story of Robert Eisler, but there will be a tenth and final episode in the near future that reflects on this project and academic podcasting as a whole after I have had time to hear some feedback. On that note, now that you have heard the story, I would love to hear what you think about it!

Guests: Steven Beller (independent scholar), Nicholas Campion (Principal Lecturer in History at Bath Spa University and Director of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture)

Voice of Robert Eisler: Caleb Crawford

Additional voices: Brian Evans and Chiara Ridpath

Music: “Shibbolet Baseda,” recorded by Elyakum Shapirra and His Israeli Orchestra.

Funding provided by the Ohio University Humanities Research Fund and the Ohio University Honors Tutorial College Internship Program.

Special thanks to the Warburg Institute and the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford.

Bibliography and Further Reading:

Campion, Nicholas. History of Western Astrology: Volume II, the Medieval and Modern

Worlds. London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2013.

Eisler, Robert. Man into Wolf: An Anthropological Interpretation of Sadism, Masochism, and

Lycanthropy. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, Ltd., 1951.

———. “The Passion of the Flax.” Folklore 61, no. 3 (1950): 114-133.

———.“The Empiric Basis of Moral Obligation.” Ethics 59, no. 2, part 1 (January 1949):


———. “Danse Macabre.” Traditio 6 (1948): 187-225.

———.The Royal Art of Astrology: With a Frontispiece, Sixteen Plates, Forty-Eight

Illustrations in the Text and Five Diagrams. London: Herbert Joseph, Ltd., 1946.

The Mass Observation Archive. http://www.massobs.org.uk/.

Scholem, Gershom. “How I Came to the Kabbalah,” Commentary 69, no. 5 (May

1980): 39-53.

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Associate Professor Brian Collins is the Drs. Ram and Sushila Gawande Chair in Indian Religion and Philosophy at Ohio University. He can be reached at collinb1@ohio.edu.

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