[New York]: (Alois P. Swoboda, 1914-1915). First edition. Oblong wire-sitched pamphlet in printed brown wrappers, 5.5 x 8.38 inches, 60 pages. Vignette portrait of Swoboda. Faint light ring dampstain to the upper wrapper, with a little spotting to the first page below; a little worn and toned; a good to very good copy. Item #20081
“Never before in the history of the world have such opportunities existed for men with pleasing and forceful personalities as at the present time. . . . Those who will succeed in the future must be super-adapted physically and mentally; they must obtain the aid of their *Conscious Energy* and the laws of its evolution through the body and mind, thus by developing a high degree every desirable characteristic internal and external, they will possess the favorable ground from which they will compel and command success. The Swoboda System of *Conscious Evolution* is the royal road to success.” A fugitive example of one of the great early American mass media body-image hucksters, a detailed pitch with numerous testimonials for the Swoboda Conscious Evolution and Conscious Breathing courses. A Viennese immigrant to New York, Alois P. Swoboda (1873-1938) was the originator of Swoboda-ism and of Conscious Evolution—a system of physical and mental culture that dismissed the dumb-bell menace and instead employed isometrics; his ads by the nineteen-teens were staples of the popular magazines. Certain claims have been made that his texts directly influenced Charles Atlas or even the development of Scientology, though the evidence for either at this point seems tenuous at best. Whether Swoboda was aware of the slightly earlier efforts of Webster Edgerly, whose pseudonymous writings as Everett Ralston established the contemporary success of Ralstonism, certainly the two were working in parallel—though Edgerly’s system stressed diet and light exercise to nurture the body’s glame, while Swoboda appears to have adopted a more vigorous program still explicitly in opposition to systems of “physical culture” (cf. Sandow, Macfadden); certainly Swoboda met with sufficient success to come under the gimlet eye of the Journal of the American Medical Association’s warnings against quacks. Atwater S-1300. OCLC notes two locations for the 1914 edition of this title: Rochester (the Atwater copy) and Winnipeg.