The dark legacy of Carlos Castaneda

1960s: Days of Rage


“For fans of the literary con, it’s been a great few years. Currently, we have Richard Gere starring as Clifford Irving in ‘The Hoax,’ a film about the ’70s novelist who penned a faux autobiography of Howard Hughes. … Much has been written about the slippery boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, the publishing industry’s responsibility for distinguishing between the two, and the potential damage to readers. There’s been, however, hardly a mention of the 20th century’s most successful literary trickster: Carlos Castaneda. If this name draws a blank for readers under 30, all they have to do is ask their parents. Deemed by Time magazine the ‘Godfather of the New Age,’ Castaneda was the literary embodiment of the Woodstock era. His 12 books, supposedly based on meetings with a mysterious Indian shaman, don Juan, made the author, a graduate student in anthropology, a worldwide celebrity. Admirers included John Lennon, William…

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