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A Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery [Hardcover]

Lyndy Abraham
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)


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Book Description

February 28, 1999 0521631858 978-0521631853
This dictionary documents alchemical symbolism from the early centuries AD to the late-twentieth century, for use by historians of literary culture, philosophy, science and the visual arts, and readers interested in alchemy and hermeticism. Each entry includes a definition of the symbol, giving the literal (physical) and figurative (spiritual) meanings, an example of the symbol used in alchemical writing, and a quotation from a literary source. There are fifty visual images of graphic woodcuts, copperplate engravings and hand-painted emblems, some reproduced here for the first time.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"...this is a rich and generous source of information, with many illustrations and copious cross-referencing. Abraham makes an arcane subject accessible without diminishing its rich complexity." Journal of Englih and Germanic Philology

"Lyndy Abraham's Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery represents an invaluable research and reference tool for the specialist in literary studies, the art historian, and the historian of science. Delving into a rich variety of alchemical writings from Aquinas to Zoroaster and a wide range of literary texts, the Dictionary supplies ample evidence for the myriad ways in which alchemical thinking and imagery entered into the broader culture of early modern Europe through poetry, drama, and literature." Deborah Harkness

"...Abraham presents an intellectual dense, highly focused view of alchemical images in a Renaissance context." Norman Weinstein, Parabola

"Accessible and well formatted, this work will find an audience with historians of literary culture, philosophy, science, and visual arts, as well as armchair scholars with an interest in alchemy and hermeticism. This book is recommended for large public and academic collections." Edmund F. Santa Vicca, Choice

Book Description

This dictionary documents alchemical symbolism from the early centuries AD to the late-twentieth century, for use by historians of literary culture, philosophy, science and the visual arts, and readers interested in alchemy and hermeticism. Each entry includes a definition of the symbol, giving the literal (physical) and figurative (spiritual) meanings, an example of the symbol used in alchemical writing, and a quotation from a literary source. There are fifty visual images of graphic woodcuts, copperplate engravings and hand-painted emblems, some reproduced here for the first time.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (February 28, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521631858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521631853
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.8 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,030,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Philosopher's Stone April 25, 2000
Format:Hardcover
This is a superb book for anyone interested in alchemy. For those interested in alchemy and its connections to literature-- it's even better. The articles are bursting with relevant information and insight into this often perplexing subject matter in an accessible, readable style. A "must have" for anyone interested in alchemy. The only thing I don't like is the price, which may prove prohibitive for some.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars workhorse for literary alchemy September 20, 2005
Format:Paperback
this book is fun, well written, and detailed. most useful for literary and artistic readings of alchemy, or "comparative religion" type studies, less so for detailed info on the protoscientific aspects (try Lawrence Principe). I'm using this book for a class on alchemy I'm teaching this semester. It's a good way to approach the rich terminology and symbolism, though it can get a bit repetetive as the same idea gets explained in different ways in different articles. Could have better footnotes and cross-referencing, but very useful for the casual reader or beginning student who is just becoming familiar with a confusing and difficult set of terms and images.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Art and Historical Resource February 4, 2011
Format:Paperback
Given this as a gift a few years back, I had primarily asked for it with the intention of using it as an art sourcebook. For that purpose alone, a guide to decoding alchemical iconography, it would have been a worthy purchase. From an intellectual standpoint, however, this volume proved to be infinitely fascinating and well researched. The text itself is clearly written but very dense. It is clear that the author knows what she is talking about and has taken major steps to make a very complex subject understandable to others.

An exciting, yet unexpected, byproduct of this book was that I began to recognize related iconography in places I previously hadn't been aware of it. Most notable of these "discoveries" was the recognization of alchemical imagery that infuses W.B. Yeat's poetry. This book was the means by which I discovered an entirely new (to me) dimension of Yeats' writing.

If you have even the slightest interest in historical alchemical imagery and iconography then I highly recommend this volume. Not only is it an essential academic reference, but it serves as an excellent springboard into further historical study and investigation.
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