We publish a very recent exchange of letters between Tommaso Iorco and a lady (who asked to remain anonymous), as it illuminates some of the main motivations that led us to engage in Project Eric with a very clear light.

Here is what the lady wrote (on 9 July 2018):

Dear Tommaso,

I received the good news of "Project Eric" and I wish first of all to express my joy in learning that a play by Sri Aurobindo will finally be brought to the stage. I hope I can be among those who will have the privilege of attending the show, if my age and my ailments will allow it. I will also see, if I can, make a donation compatible with my meagre economic possibilities.

In these days, after the happy news, I wanted to re-read this theatrical text. And I must frankly tell you that, as much as you love all what Sri Aurobindo has written, I don't understand the reason that prompted you to choose this dramaturgy.

In the introduction to your translation of the aforementioned work, you wrote: "Like the enigmatic smile of the Mona Lisa, these two works of dramatic poetry - Eric and Vasavadatta - conceal hidden mysteries and meanings, which leave to the reader the pleasure of discovering, just as one admires the body of a goddess while the veils that hide the inebriating nudity of her forms fall one after the other ».

If this is the case, I admit that I missed something fundamental, which escapes my interpretation. And I seem to sense (however darkly) that you are right; the very fact that Sri Aurobindo decided to compose this work at Pondy, at a time when he had already come into contact with the supra-consciousness, makes me deduce that there must indeed be a more hidden meaning than that narrated on the surface. I would therefore be grateful if you found the time to illustrate it to me. If not, don't worry: I don't want to distract you from your tasks.

I admire your work and I am sincerely grateful for what you have been carrying out for decades now.

Best wishes,


And here is Tommaso's answer, dated July 25:

Dear ...,

Thank you for your kind words.

Indeed, the commitments absorb me entirely and I find myself having less and less time to dedicate to correspondence, which I have now almost entirely entrusted to the care of the irreplaceable Gaia. However, your request needs an answer, since I have the distinct impression that what you express is a fairly widespread opinion among readers (few, I fear!) Of the theatrical text Eric. Precisely for this reason, I ask you for permission to make our epistolary exchange public.

If you will carefully (I mean: with inner participation) compel this sublime masterpiece of dramatic poetry, you can't help but grasp a much deeper level of reading than a simple (albeit compelling) love story set in Norway in Norman era.

As we all know, Sri Aurobindo's poetry is too refined to expire in the didactic genre, but if one reads the love affair of Eric and Aslaug with the right introspection, it will soon be discovered that it is the poetic-theatrical transposition of the relationship between the Divine and the human soul! All the details are present to make it clear, moreover with a transport, a realism, a brightness so vivid and concrete, to remain once again admired and illuminated by the incomparable poetic genius of Sri Aurobindo.

The same names chosen for the two protagonists of the story are quite explicit. It is in fact two compound words: Eric is formed by ei and ríkr, which in ancient Norse means "the eternal Sovereign" (it is the "Supreme Lord" which Mère often refers to), while Aslaug derives from áss and laug, translatable as "the beloved divine" or, more precisely, the "joint" (laug) of the "Divine" (áss). Probably it is a pure accident, but I find the least strange the fact that the first mythological Eiríkr (Eric) of which is handed down in the Nordic tradition, is made to descend from a certain "King Agni"! We must not forget that the Norse tradition is one of the many luxuriant branches of the only large Indo-European tree: the trunk is common to all traditions, starting with the Vedic one, to embrace the Greek, the Latin, the Celtic, the ugro - Finnish, Baltic-Slavic and others).

But, beyond this curious detail of King Agni (who, obviously, does not figure in the text of Sri Aurobindo), in the play there is not a single detail from which the VIVO "symbolism", throbbing behind every single verse (of exemplary beauty, moreover: the poetic rhythm is really wonderful and the musicality is simply perfect). If you reread the text with this "reading key", you will be surprised by how much its poetic language is overloaded with a sense aimed at evoking the long relationship of approach and mutual love between the soul and the Divine (with all the initial hesitations on the part of the human soul towards a Divine whose modus operandi it does not understand, attracted and at the same time frightened by such amorous ardor on the part of the One who is indisposed to claim nothing less than a complete, entrancing, perfect union, that is, leading to that total beatific fusion that is already the essential reality underlying each individual soul) and that there is nothing put there by chance or to satisfy purely poetic needs: everything is concocted with millimetre precision to represent the eternal adventure of the soul.

Reading the work in this spirit, one finds such a quantity of correspondence with one's inner journey, to be stunned by such adherence to those that we can rightly call the concrete facts of the soul!

I also want to emphasize that any theatrical dramaturgy, although enjoyable even as a poetic work in its own right, can be appreciated and fully understood only when it is adequately represented. If any poet did not have a clear "magic of the theater", he would not consider it appropriate to write works of dramatic poetry: lyric and epic poetry would be more than enough to satisfy his artistic expressiveness. In the theater, among the "experts", a distinction is made between "the dead" and "the living": the dead is the dramatic paper text, while the living is that same text adequately staged, in fact enlivened by the performative artists. The great theatrical Antonin Artaud often repeated that "theater is a real operation of magic", and one does not realize how true this statement is (unfortunately, the nineteenth-century rise of the bourgeois class, which took possession of the theater that has transformed it on the one hand into an instrument of mass distraction, on the other into an idle pastime designed to please a privileged few, still exerts its damaging effects, all of which has turned the same actors into clumsy sorcerer's apprentices, when not even in simple craftsmen - but, fortunately, things are destined to change).

I conclude this mine with a reference to your eventual donation: I believe that the symbolic scope of this act is superior to every other consideration; therefore, I would be pleased if you could add yourself to the list of those who have already joined. Even five euros may suffice: the important thing, as always, is what vibrates behind the gesture.

I wish you all the best and hope to seize your presence among the spectators at the right time!


Finally, a further detail must be added. As soon as I read the correspondence exchange just reported, I was immediately curious to see if the character of Hertha (the third of the main characters in Sri Aurobindo's lyric drama) also had a similar symbolic reading key. Here's what Tommaso told me about it:

Hertha represents material nature.

Just like the other two characters, the symbolic meaning is explicit from its name, directly linked to the Norse god of the sea Njördr (the sea, for the Vikings, was the greatest dispenser of prosperity - and the corresponding god was in fact protector of fishermen and of sailors); Tacitus, who was the first Roman writer to cite this god, rendered it in Latin as Nerthus, but a misreading of N made Herthus, from which precisely derives Hertha, which became the name of the Germanic goddess of fertility, Mother Earth or Mother Nature.

Hertha represents that particular aspect of Mother Nature that works hidden to help the human soul join the Divine. Even when we do not understand his intentions (to the point of appearing to us casual), or even when he seems to be plotting for our defeat, in reality it paves for us the most complete path (which is rarely the simplest or the most direct!) For finally arriving at a complete and rich union beyond all imagination.

I am sure that these clarifications will be considered precious and enlightening for many, as they have been for me... Rereading the text, it reveals an even more radiant light!

Leonardo Cellai