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The Occult Paperback – January 1, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Watkins (July 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842931075
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842931073
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,600,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Danno VINE VOICE on September 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
Colin Wilson brings an excellent conversational tone to "The Occult." Despite the fact that Wilson seems to have included virtually every pre-1970 seer, philosopher, adept, alchemist, prophet, soothsayer, necromancer and sorcerer, the book never seems poorly organized or disjointed. This is a testament to Wilson's writing style. Although by its very nature superficial, "The Occult" comes across as a conversation about the subject with a well-versed, highly-educated and rather witty enthusiast. As such, you will likely have as much fun reading it as I have. This is probably the most readable book on the topic, and a fine place to start if you're new to this.

Despite its' breadth, however, "The Occult" has one fatal flaw, and that is Wilson's inability to truly weigh competing points of view. For example, while Wilson provides rather lively portraits of Caligostro, Nostradamus, Mesmer, Pythagoras and the like, he uncritically reprints sensationalistic stories about them. Any historian of Greek philosophy can tell you that the stories Wilson shares regarding Pythagoras are most likely fiction, and any Freemason can correct Wilson's misconceptions about the Masons in his section on Caligostro. (Freemasonry is NOT a religion, despite Wilson's claims).

Still, this book deserves much praise. The Tarot is here, but so is the I Ching. Crowley is here, but so is Zen. The Kabbalah is here, but so are the Masons. And so on. While casting his net wide may open him up to charges of being a dillentant, it also saves this from being yet another collection of ghost stories and pseudo-myth. Don't buy this book because Halloween is coming. Buy it if you have ever cared about mystery, religion, philosophy, or spiritualism. You probably won't like everything about "The Occult" but I think you will be glad that you have read it and will probably want to read it again.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By J. W. Kennedy on January 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
I was drawn to this book after being impressed by Colin Wilson's ideas in "The Mammoth Encyclopedia of the Unsolved." This book was written early in Colin Wilson's career after a publisher commissioned him to write it - he admits not having had much interest in the subject when he started. It was first published in 1971 but the copyright was renewed by Mr. Wilson in 2003 (apparently without bothering to update the text.)

The meat of this book is a "history" of occultism presented as condensed biographies of some of its most famous figures (John Dee, Paracelsus, Nostradamus, Cagliostro, Daniel Dunglas Home, Madame Blavatsky, Rasputin, Aliester Crowley, etc) The accounts are fascinating to read but I found myslef plagued by doubts as to the veracity of the "facts" as the author has presented them. I already regarded him as a potential hoaxer after his collaboration with L. Sprague de Camp on the Skoob _Necronomicon_ but I don't know enough about these historical figures to tell how much of the story is hogwash.

In the one field he discussed in which I HAVE done some prior research, Mr. Wilson showed himself to be without any knowledge whatsoever. His two chapters about the Evolution of Man and Primitive Magic are full of embarrassing mistakes and crude distortions. He also makes much of the notion that people during the Classical period of ancient Greece were colorblind, which is patently ridiculous since we know that painting was an art in Classical times. He also repeats a mistaken theory (which was accepted among academics at the time but has since been disproven) about the purpose of paleolithic cave art.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Graham D. Lincoln VINE VOICE on July 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Before I became interested in Freemasonry & before studying Mystery School works, when I was a teenager....just-after being booted out of home for having an earring and hair below collar-length....a friend talked with me about my natural psychic abilities and loaned me "The Occult," by Colin Wilson. This book left a great impression on me and I have always remembered and appreciated this work. Also, this book introduced me to Numerology & opened my thinking in other areas. The various characters involved in The Occult are discussed, throughout the book and...if I remember correctly...I believe there are pictures of famous occultists in Black and White. I have never owned a copy of this book, but the copy I borrowed changed hands so many times that I can assure it's value as a good read.... I think Wilson did a great job with what he knew at the time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. R. Griffin on August 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
Let the title scare you off and you'll miss a fine volume on just about everything we have conjured up in our brief history. I particularly found the concept of 'Faculty X' (somewhat of a seventh sense) to be fascinating. Colin Wilson was a celebrated author in the sixties, with his popular work 'The Outsider'. Here, Wilson provides examples of everything from apparitions to physical transfer across continents of a person, to scientific study of unexplained phenomena. The book is quite long and must be digested over time. After all, the secrets of our time require plausible explanation. And even then, would you believe? Put yourself to the test...

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