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The Forge and the Crucible: The Origins and Structure of Alchemy [Paperback]

by Mircea Eliade
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 15, 1979 0226203905 978-0226203904 Second Edition
Primitive man's discovery of the ability to change matter from one state to another brought about a profound change in spiritual behavior. In The Forge and the Crucible, Mircea Eliade follows the ritualistic adventures of these ancient societies, adventures rooted in the people's awareness of an awesome new power.

The new edition of The Forge and the Crucible contains an updated appendix, in which Eliade lists works on Chinese alchemy published in the past few years. He also discusses the importance of alchemy in Newton's scientific evolution.

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The Forge and the Crucible: The Origins and Structure of Alchemy + Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (Mythos: The Princeton/Bollingen Series in World Mythology)
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation)

About the Author

Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) was the Sewell L. Avery Distinguished Service Professor in the Divinity School and professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. His books published by the University of Chicago Press include Autobiography, Volume II; the novel The Old Man and the Bureaucrats; the three-volume History of Religious Ideas; Ordeal by Labyrinth; and several other works on the history of religions.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Second Edition edition (March 15, 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226203905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226203904
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #577,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
76 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Introductions to a fascinating subject December 10, 2001
If I had my time over again I would read these three books on alchemy in the following order: All of them are excellent in their own sphere to introduce a complex process.
(1) The Forge and the Crucible - Eliade
This is an excellent prehistory of alchemy showing the patterns of thought out of which Alchemy most probably arose. An easy read.
(2) Anatomy of the Soul - Edinger
Set out according to seven processes involved in alchemy Calcinatio, Solutio, Coagulatio, Sublimatio, Mortificatio, Separatio, Coniunctio, this is an accessible book that puts each process in reasonably neat boxes, (though the considerable overlap and intermingling is acknowledged). The approach is somewhat mechanical.
(3) Alchemy, an Introduction... - Von Franz.
More 'organic' than Edinger, Von Franz has a very warm and human touch. She deals with the origins of alchemy in Egypt and Greece and delves into the 'Aurora Consurgens', attributed to Aquinas. She includes relevent and interesting case material. Being a transcription of lectures, it is a little haphazard, though none the less informative for that.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TAKING A GLANCE TO THE MYSTERIES OF ALCHEMY November 23, 2000
By Robert
Lucidly and masterly written, this study on the origins and meaning of ancient Alchemy is a highly useful and recommendable one. As always, M. Eliade has collected a vast amount of data concerning this issue and has reached far-reaching conclusions as for the value, the role and the meaning of the otherwise rather vague world of Alchemy. Very important for anyone interested in knowing about the theme.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic resource May 15, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic resource, incredibly comprehensive especially as it includes an insightful discussion of Jung's researches into alchemy. It also investigates the history of metal-working and the way it affects the development of alchemy. Eliade is a marvellous researcher and writer, his use of references is exhaustive and illuminating. Oddly enough he does not include a chapter on Arabic alchemy although he refers to it and it seems very important.
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14 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars strong on ideas, research inconsistent May 19, 2007
As usual Eliade spins wonderful philosophical and spiritual ideas laid over history. And they make engrossing reading. I don't know how much one can trust the historical facts cited throughout this work. For example Eliade says the earliest known metallurgy was in the mountains of Armenia in 1200-1200 BC. In fact it is now widely accepted that the Ban Chiang (present-day NE Thailand) was forging bronze tools and ornaments at least by 2200 BC, possibly earlier.

Still, well worth reading for the ideas.
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