The Book of Strange: A Journey


375 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-385-25389-3
DDC 133





Reviewed by Sarah Robertson

Sarah Robertson is an editor in the College Division of Nelson Canada.


In this book, Fraser deftly blends philosophy, religion, psychology,
biology, neurology, cosmology, and contemporary physics as she considers
concepts of space, time, and matter, the nature of selfhood and evil,
and topics that continue to irk rationalist sensibilities—telepathy,
holistic medicine, ghosts, possession, reincarnation, and Gaia theory.

Although relativity theory and quantum theory have long since exploded
the myth of a mechanistic and comprehensible physical universe, hardcore
materialists are loth to relinquish the comfortable assurances offered
by the Newtonian model. As Fraser remarks, “the concept of matter as
the ultimate reality is like a white elephant pedaling in space, still
unaware that the planks of its platform have all been sawed through, one
by one.” Fraser does not advocate the overthrow of Western rationalism
by Eastern mysticism but instead calls for a synthesis of the two—a
holistic merging of the spiritual and the sensual that is incorporated
in the right and left hemispheres of the brain and symbolized by the
Chinese yin and yang.

What sets this compulsively readable book apart from other general
treatments of mysticism are Fraser’s own physically rich and troubled
experiences, which have led her to speculations about herself that both
fascinate and disturb. Given her inculcation in the dogmas and
rigidities of the 1950s educational system, it is questionable whether
Fraser would have been capable of the imaginative leaps taken in this
volume had not personal events so insistently—and often
appallingly—illuminated the way.


Fraser, Sylvia., “The Book of Strange: A Journey,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,