The Book of Magic

The Book of Magic : From Antiquity to the Enlightenment

3.81 (22 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

'...as when iron is drawn to a magnet, camphor is sucked into hot air, crystal lights up in the Sun, sulfur and a volatile liquid are kindled by flame, an empty eggshell filled with dew is raised towards the Sun ...' The Bible is full of stories featuring forms of magic and possession - from Moses battling with Pharaoh's wizards to the supernatural actions of Jesus and his disciples. As, over the following centuries, the Christian church attempted to stamp out 'deviant' practices, a persistent interest in magic drew strength from this Biblical validation. A strange blend of mumbo-jumbo, fear, fraud and deeply serious study, magic was at the heart of the European Renaissance, fascinating many of its greatest figures. This is a book filled with incantations, charms, curses, summonings, cures and descriptions of extraordinary, shadowy, only half-understood happenings from long ago. It features writers as various as Thomas Aquinas, John Milton, John Dee, Ptolemy and Paracelsus along with anonymous ancient and medieval works which were, in some cases, viewed as simply too dangerous even to open. Brian Copenhaver's wonderful anthology will be welcomed by everyone from those with the most casual interest in the magical tradition to anyone drawn to the Renaissance and the tangled, arcane roots of the scientific tradition.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 672 pages
  • 162 x 240 x 43mm | 1,114g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0241198569
  • 9780241198568
  • 460,620

About Brian Copenhaver

Brian Copenhaver is Professor of Philosophy and History at the University of California, Los Angeles and is one of the world's foremost scholars on Renaissance magic and mysticism. This book is in many ways a summa of the interests and writers with which he has been preoccupied throughout his career.show more

Review quote

This illuminating book should dispel the notion that magic was just superstition and secure its place in the history of ideas... for anyone wanting a more informed view of the uses of enchantment, Copenhaver's volume is a peerless resource -- Philip Ball Prospect An impressive and well-edited anthology... reading this rich collection allows each of us to cut our own path through the dense snarls of the history of a body of ideas -- Diane Purkiss Times Literary Supplementshow more

Review Text

This illuminating book should dispel the notion that magic was just superstition and secure its place in the history of ideas... for anyone wanting a more informed view of the uses of enchantment, Copenhaver's volume is a peerless resource Philip Ball Prospectshow more

Rating details

22 ratings
3.81 out of 5 stars
5 36% (8)
4 27% (6)
3 23% (5)
2 9% (2)
1 5% (1)
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