By Theodore Ziolkowski

ISBN-10: 0198746830

ISBN-13: 9780198746836

In contrast to so much different reports of alchemy and literature, which specialise in alchemical imagery in poetry of particular classes or writers, this booklet strains the determine of the alchemist in Western literature from its first visual appeal within the 8th Circle of Dante's Inferno right down to the current. From the start alchemy has had elements: exoteric or operative (the transmutation of baser metals into gold) and esoteric or speculative (the religious transformation of the alchemist himself). From Dante to Ben Jonson, throughout the centuries whilst the idea in exoteric alchemy used to be nonetheless robust and exploited via many charlatans to lie to the gullible, writers in significant works of many literatures handled alchemists with ridicule with a view to disclose their methods. From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, as that trust weakened, the determine of the alchemist disappeared, even if Protestant poets in England and Germany have been nonetheless keen on alchemical photographs. but if eighteenth-century technology virtually absolutely undermined alchemy, the determine of the alchemist started to emerge back in literature--now as a humanitarian hero or as a spirit striving for sublimation. Following those esoteric romanticizations, as scholarly curiosity in alchemy intensified, writers have been interested in the determine of the alchemist and his quest for energy. The fin-de-siecle observed an extra transformation as poets observed within the alchemist a logo for the poet in line with se and others, inspired by way of the present spiritism, as a manifestation of the non secular spirit. through the interwar years, as writers sought surrogates for the frequent lack of spiritual religion, esoteric alchemy underwent a reported revival, and plenty of writers became to the determine of the alchemist as a non secular version or, with regards to Paracelsus in Germany, as a countrywide figurehead. This tendency, theorized through C. G. Jung in different significant reports, encouraged after global conflict II an enormous popularization of the determine in novels--historical, set within the current, or juxtaposing earlier and present-- in England, France, Germany, Italy, Brazil, and the U.S.. The inevitable results of this popularization used to be the trivialization of the determine in ads for therapeutic and cooking or in articles approximately scientists and economists. In sum: the determine of the alchemist in literature presents a seismograph for significant shifts in highbrow and cultural history.

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40 On poetry dealing with alchemy and not alchemists, see Didier Kahn, “Alchemical Poetry in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: A Preliminary Survey and Synthesis. Part I—Preliminary Survey,” Ambix 57 (2010): 249–74. 2 Satirizations, or Nigredo THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT: 1144–1789 The early Middle Ages effectively lost sight of alchemy. In the course of the twelfth-century Renaissance it began to reemerge and set out on what might be called its golden path to glory, peaking around 1600 and then steadily declining again until its virtual disappearance in the late eighteenth century.

Félix Lecoy (Paris: Champion, 1973), vol. 2, 298–9. I quote the text from vol. 2 of this edition. See also the notes in: The Romance of the Rose, trans. Charles Dahlberg, 3rd edn (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995), which refers to Lecoy’s notes. 31 See Curtius, Europäische Literatur und Lateinisches Mittelalter, 522–3. Satirizations, or Nigredo 25 se tant ne fet qu’el les ramaine a leur matire prumeraine. (ll. ) Here we recognize the key term materia prima, and a few lines later we learn that Art, even should she attain that first stage, would never succeed in making the “elixir” (l.

It retreated into a concentrated position. ” Accordingly they gathered in secret groups, such as the so-called Hermetic Society, and publicized their activities only to the extent necessary to provide the instigation and opportunity for likeminded thinkers to join them. 24 Johann Heinrich Zedler, Großes Vollständiges Universal-Lexikon aller Wissenschafften und Künste, 64 vols (Halle/Leipzig: Zedler, 1732–50), vol. 1, cols 1065–8. 25 Karl Christoph Schmieder, Geschichte der Alchemie (1832), ed.

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