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Solomon's Secret Arts: The Occult in the Age of Enlightenment Hardcover – May 21, 2013
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“[A] serious yet lively work, chockablock with facts, anecdotes, and original research.”—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post (Michael Dirda The Washington Post)
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Top Customer Reviews
The occult has had an effect on intellectual thinking throughout the Enlightenment and still does to this day.
The only downside of this book is that there is so much throwing of names and concepts, it is not always easy to keep things straight. Not a casual read.
Now let’s look at John Webster, alchemist and astrologer. He spoke out against witchcraft in in England, while enjoying the attention of people fascinated by his kooky scientific studies. Keep in mind that these famous scholars were all upper-class Englishmen, and they wanted to keep all the credit for themselves. In fact most of the great scientists, writers, and explorers of the era were from the upper classes, not the lower ones. But the author tells how this would end.
The American Revolution really wounded the confidence of the British. Into that era came Ebeneezer Sibly, who wrote a bestselling book on mysticism. He published the names of “demons” that only he knew about, gathered from “texts” that only he’d seen. He had his own printer to churn it out, and aimed it at lowbrow readers, releasing the book in the form of installments that the poor could afford. He used this market to sell his own quack medicines.
Today we have horror writers like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, and countless others, some of whom write stories for paperbacks that you see in the airport news stand. A genre that was once seen as fact is now popular fiction. If Stephen King had written ‘Salem’s Lot in 1650, he could’ve claimed it was true and everyone would’ve believed it.