- 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: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #751,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Occult Paperback – January 1, 1999
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
To start with, the occult is nonsense - there's no scientific evidence for any of it, and Wilson was either really uninformed about science, or just very delusional. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Max Roga
This is not a factual study of the occult. Rather, pages and pages of pointless anecdotes. There really inst any point to the book. Read morePublished 6 months ago by J. Lenglet
In your review, you criticized Wilson for misinterpreting Freemasonry as a religion:
"Freemasonry is NOT a religion, despite Wilson's claims). Read more
I don't always agree with Wilson, but I always enjoy his books because they're full of ideas, little-known history and interesting speculation. Read morePublished on September 25, 2013 by TLR
Colin's book is massive, and is massively entertaining as well. He is very honest about his search for meaning and something beyond our everyday world. Read morePublished on July 22, 2012 by Tobin B. Crenshaw
I put off reading this for two years. I discovered Colin Wilson, read The Outsider, Beyond the Outsider, Serial Killers and Supernatural. Read morePublished on June 6, 2012 by Tor SR. Thidesen
Wilson's overview of the extraordinary powers of human beings is ripe with interesting, well-told stories but short on the argumentation that ties his underpinning theoretical... Read morePublished on September 27, 2011 by Jeremy Garber