Whitall Nicholson Perry (January 19, 1920 – November 18, 2005) was born of old New England stock in Belmont, Massachusetts (near Boston), on January 19, 1920. A quest for wisdom led him, as a young man, to travel out to the Far East. In Bali, in 1939, he found the echoes of a still authentic traditional world that sparked a lifelong encounter with ancient traditions, which he approached through the metaphysical perspectives of Platonism and Vedanta. He spent several decades abroad, living first in Giza, Egypt, where he met and frequented the French metaphysician René Guénon, and later in Lausanne, Switzerland where he became a close associate of the German metaphysician and mystic, Frithjof Schuon. In 1980, he moved to Bloomington, Indiana where he resided for the last 25 years of his life. He died on November 18, 2005.
Perry’s commitment to traditional philosophy of the East and West led him, in 1946, to make the acquaintance of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, who, over many years, had established his reputation as the leading authority on the arts of India and Indonesia, as well as on the religions of which these arts were the expression. In the later part of his life, Coomaraswamy came under the influence of René Guénon, the French philosopher and orientalist who was the founder (together with Frithjof Schuon) of what came to be known as the “traditionalist” or Perennialist school of thought. Coomaraswamy became a powerful advocate of that school, and he introduced Perry . . . more