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163 of 175 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2005
Why do I give this book only 2 stars? I don't agree with the way this book is marketed. Watch out for ordering this book, as there are two books of the same title, author and publisher. What's the difference? One of the books has the word 'icons' on it and has only 192 pages from the original book. The original book has 712 pages. Check that the ISBN's match for what you are after. I made the mistake of buying this book from a site that did not list the page numbers and went off the title, publisher, author and picture on the front cover. Since first writing this review, I have now returned to say that I have the original 712 paged book and am very happy with it. When it comes to a book like this, why settle for second best?
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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2003
This is an extraordinary collection of art - comprehensive and diverse, spanning a significant portion of human history. Brief descriptions and explanatory text are sprinkled about but the greatest pleasure, in my opinion, derives from the gorgeous reproductions of art related to alchemy and mysticism.
I actually own two copies of this book. One that I peruse regularly and another that I shall keep as a spare should my first wear out. It is an excellent gift - very uplifting and immensely inspiring.
The subject of alchemy has been somewhat cheapened in our time - reduced to a few basic - often misrepresented - ideas and thrown about by simple minds with incoherent ideas. Few people have encountered the breadth of the subject and the contributions it has made to human civilizations. The inspiration it has provided artists and scientists is immense and this book captures quite a bit of this significance.
The author neither advocates existing belief in alchemy and mysticism, nor denies it. It is a historical perspective - largely relayed through imagery - celebrating the great beauty of the subject and the complexities it once contained.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2004
High praise that somebody said she owned two copies, one as a spare. I agree that this is a nice book to have as a reference, and I'm sure it must be the largest collection of "Hermetick" and "Alchymical" images presently available under one cover. That said, it's pretty small (although to produce this in a large volume would probably put its price out of the range of the average enthusiast), the colors are often badly reproduced, and the text is only excusable because nobody expects much in the way of text from Taschen. The main thing you have here is convenience. I have a large enough collection of books that I can track down superior examples of most of these images...but I have to track them down. With this book, I just flip through the pages. As a companion to this book I would suggest either (preferably, if you can find it) "Alchemy: the Medieval Alchemists and Their Royal Art" by Johannes Fabricius, or (failing that) "The Golden Game: Alchemical Engravings of the Seventeenth Century" by Stanislas Klossowski de Rola, for a better look at the engravings specifically. Also, "Art and Symbols of the Occult" by James Wasserman has the best color reproductions I've seen of the lavishly-painted sixteenth-century alchemical manuscript "Splendor Solis," amidst many other amusing curiosities.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 1999
I bought this book, not having much background in alchemy. I was suprised to find such a treasure and for such a cheap price. Although the book is in a smaller format, most of the pages are taken up with beautiful full color pictures. Each picture has a alchemic saying beside it, as well as an interpetation. For someone who has no understanding of the visual format of alchemy, this book is a must. There is also some background info in the front. The other pleasing thing about this book is the time Alexander Roob has taken in laying out his information. Each chapter is preceeded by an well thought out intro and quotes from alchemist. I thought that this was one of those rare books that presented as well as informed. Strongly recommended.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 1997
There are lots of books where you can find reproduction of the occult woodcut illustrations that are some of our best records of Renaissance alchemical culture, but this book is the new contender: very clean reproductions, a broad range of history up to the present day, and great depth. I was lucky to buy a copy of this a few years ago during a trip to Heidelberg, and couldn't wait until Taschen put out the English-language edition. Great paper stock, well-written captions, and many rarely-reproduced images along with the classics.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 1997
And Lo, All things were made from the ONE...
OMNIA AB UNO....This book is like a Peter Greenaway Movie made from the History of Alchemy.
Every page is a gorgeous full color or true color representation of an original text or illustration. Taschen books are always colorful, but this one is profound... And try to find anything on the web about Hugo Hoeppner's Cubic Theosophical Temple.. ain't gonna happen... This book is nothing less than one of the finest paperback image and short quote encyclopedias on alchemy and mysticism produced in recent times.
Do not miss it! It is fuel for your subconscious.
This is the stuff that spawned Surrealism and is capable yet of producing revolutions... Alchemy is a vivification of being's materiality.. and matter's search for meaning in matter...

and he followed the mercurial hare into the forrest..

mysterious old bones...
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2005
If you love the esoteric symbolism and art associated with alchemy then you are going to love this book. It is beautifully presented with a nice glossy finish to the pages and the colours are excellently reproduced.

There are brief bits of text that accompany the drawings/paintings and even though they are brief they can be quite illuminating.

This book has had pride of place in my collection and I have dipped into it on many occassions. It can be almost meditative looking at these painings and drawings and can broaden your spiritual understanding.

It is a fine collection of alchemical and mystical paintings and drawings and it is unlikely that you will find such a beautifully presented and exhaustively comprehensive collection anywhere else.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2005
This book literally leapt off the shelf at me one day while I was in the bookstore. I wasn't into alchemy or mysticism or anything at the time. I was just perusing the art section, and saw this book and was blown away by it. I bought it without a moment's hesitation and have spend countless hours pouring over it. It's so great to see old art that is not overtly Christian, and which is expressing something besides what we are commonly taught of in our mainstream dominant history. Further down the road, I did in fact get more into alchemy and mysticism and their history, and this book then also served as an excellent guide and visual reference for looking into these mysteries. I couldn't recommend it more highly.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2006
This book is a most excellent read for anyone who has an understanding of Spiritual Alchemy. It is fully illustrated with rare material which is extremely informative. This is a must for anyone who is interested in Spiritual Alchemy. This is so far the very best material on the subject I have seen.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2005
This has got to be one of the greatest collections of Hermetic, Mystical and Alchemical images between two covers. Many are rare, and many are in full color--and many many are entirely new to me! Paging through this book is a real voyage of discovery. I particularly recommend this book to anyone involved in the creative arts because these images stay with you and resonate in your psyche for days, weeks, months, and years! An incredible purchase for such a low price!
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