Since 1982

“Monte Verità and Beyond: Utopias, Naturism and Vegetarianism”

“Monte Verità and Beyond: Utopias, Naturism and Vegetarianism”

This lecture delves into the fascinating history of Monte Verità, a spiritualist, naturist and vegetarian colony started in 1899 in Switzerland. We will explore the origin of the project, led by Ida Hofmann and Henri Oedenkoven, its inspiration in anarchist idealism, and how it attracted notable figures such as Herman Hesse, Mircea Eliade, Bernard Shaw, Tolstoy, Isadora Duncan, James Joyce, Rainer Maria Rilke, Thomas Mann, Paul Klee, Bertolt Brecht, among others.

Historical Background: In 1889, the politician and Theosophist Alfred Pioda, along with Franz Hartmann and Countess Constance Wachtmeister, developed a plan to build a lay monastery called “Fraternitas” on Mount Monescia. The German Karl Max Engelmann, who had settled in Monte Brè, was associated with the “Pythagorean League” around the preacher and nature philosopher Johannes Friedrich Guttzeit and ran a vegetarian boarding house. In November 1900, Engelmann met the Gräser brothers and probably drew their attention to the estate in Monte Monescia, already acquired by Alfredo Pioda.

Developments in Brazil: Henri Oedenkoven and Ida Hofmann followed the proposal of the Gräser brothers to acquire this site as a settlement. Later, in 1920, Ida Hoffmann settled in Brazil, in the region of Palmital, near Joinville. This place was already famous for having been colonized by French anarchists, who tried to establish the utopian “Phalanstery of the Sai”. Ida, in trying to create a new naturist and vegetarian colony called “Monte Sol”, had the support of Cedaior, a French vegetarian mystic.

Key Topics:
Lay Monastery: Project of the Theosophists Alfredo Pioda, Franz Hartmann and Countess Wachtmeister
Monte Verità: Anarchist Roots and Ideals
Notable Figures and Distinguished Visitors
The Influence of Monte Monescia: Engelmann, Gräser and Properties
Expansion into Brazil: Palmital and the Monte Sol Attempt
The Influence of Cedaior: Moving to Cristalina and Porto Alegre
Challenges and Legacy of Naturist and Vegetarian Communities

Objectives:
Offer a comprehensive overview of the history of the Monte Verità Colony and its influence on Switzerland.
Explore the migration of ideas and practices to Brazil, highlighting the efforts of Ida Hoffmann, Henri Oedenkoven, and Cedaior, influenced by the Monte Monescia estate.
Analyse the challenges faced by utopian communities and their lasting impact on anarchist thought.

This talk will offer a unique perspective on the intersection between utopian ideals, alternative lifestyle, and the quest for self-sustaining communities, drawing a fascinating line between Monte Verità in Europe, Monte Monescia, and its offshoots in Brazil.