The Forbidden Book

It begins with a bomb desecrating a church that itself contains a desecrating image of the Prophet Muhammed (drawing upon Dante's depiction in the Inferno). The image exists in reality in the church of San Petrino, Bologna and has been the subject of Islamist plotting.

It proceeds from there to contain several well appointed houses, a murder, a kidnapping, an esoteric tome of Western alchemy, a misfired love affair,  a bungling Italian police investigation, an American Catholic professor of Italian literature as hero, a right wing Italian baron as villain and a political plot pursued through magical means.

Such is 'The Forbidden Book' a novel that is the combined work of a distinguished professor of music and scholar of Western esotericism (Jocelyn Godwin) and a published novelist (Guido Mina di Sospiro).

It definitely lands in 'Dan Brown territory' excepting that all the scholarly references are, well, scholarly and that we genuinely are in a world that takes the reality of magic and the sacred seriously, that looks at it from the inside out rather than reading it across the surfaces as the basis of conspiracy. It, also, has Catholics as its heroes rather than its enemy!

It is a highly intelligent entertainment that captures at its heart the realisation that all power is corrupting when not bound by love and that, therefore, it can only be exercised either when dispersed across a range of mutually correcting actors or by the selfless, acting out of an ego (s) sacrificed to love.

The former path is one of a genuinely democratic polis of which every current example is an imperfect reflection. The latter path is that of the saint and the initiate, which is arduous indeed, and infused with many possibilities for error. Both, however, at their best contain a recognition, a humility, that we may be wrong and so, by their nature, proceed gently, tentatively and with much opportunity for critical self-reflection.

Evil in the book has no such correcting mechanism - it is convinced of its certainties and seeks domination, manipulating events against a background of certitude.

But it is defeated because it radically underestimates, until it is too late, the virtues of the hero - love for the subjugated, resilience in defeat, undisplayed intelligence and tenacity.

I can wholeheartedly recommend it - and you learn about Renaissance alchemy as well - a clincher!


  1. Dear Nicholas Colloff,

    I wish to thank you, also on behalf of my co-author Joscelyn Godwin, for your thoughtful and at times poetic review of our THE FORBIDDEN BOOK.

    With all good wishes,

    Guido Mina di Sospiro

    1. Dear Guido,

      You are very welcome. Do remind me to Joscelyn, if that is he remembers a very shy young man and conversations we had at the two Temenos conferences at Dartington Hall in the late 80s.

      Best wishes, Nicholas

    2. I have.

      All the best,


    3. By the way, there follows the ling to the book's trailer:


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