54 of 64 people found the following review helpful
A missed opportunity.
, May 9, 2008
This review is from: The Book of Abramelin: A New Translation (Hardcover)
The book of Abramelin is a highly important and original book of magic, which describes a process for getting in touch with one's Holy Guardian angel. It was rediscovered and published for the first time by Macgregor Mathers, a co-founder of the Golden Dawn. It obsessed Aleister Crowley, who was unable to carry through the ritual it describes. Mathers only had a French exemplar of the text. More reliable German versions were discovered and published by Dehn in 1995/2001, in German. This is the English translation of that work.
Dehn has based his text on several manuscripts which were unknown to Mathers. But this is not a critical text, as no manuscript readings are reported by Dehn, and we do not know how he weighed the different readings, or how he decided which reading was correct.
A completely new feature of the present edition is the inclusion of "Book Two", a collection of medieval magical recipes. The original manuscripts contain a total of 160 recipes, but Dehn only includes 36 representative examples in this edition.
"Book Four" contains the famous magical squares. It is here that Dehn's textual methods are most obscure and disappointing, as many of the problems posed by the squares remain unresolved. As an example, the first word of square 1\8 should read "EKDILUN", and we can arrive at this corrected reading quite easily by approaching the squares as though they were Sudoku puzzles. But Dehn does not correct any of the squares in this way, and he remains silent as to which manuscript his chosen reading came from. Many other squares can be resolved logically by the Sudoku method. Other squares, such as 4\1 or 4\6 can only be resolved up to a certain point, after which we need to choose a reading from one or other of the manuscripts, which Dehn, as mentioned, does not report.
In conclusion, we can say that Mathers did a commendable job considering the paucity of his sources; while Dehn, despite his many manuscripts, has let us down.
The Ibis Press has made a sterling effort with this book: the type-setting and binding and over-all design are top-notch. Bravo!
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