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The Arch Conjuror of England

The Arch Conjuror of England [Kindle Edition]

Glyn Parry
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product Description


Shortlisted for the 2013 Longman/History Today Book Prize.--Longman/History award"Longman" (06/10/2013)

Product Description

Outlandish alchemist and magician, political intelligencer, apocalyptic prophet, and converser with angels, John Dee (1527–1609) was one of the most colorful and controversial figures of the Tudor world. In this fascinating book—the first full-length biography of Dee based on primary historical sources—Glyn Parry explores Dee’s vast array of political, magical, and scientific writings and finds that they cast significant new light on policy struggles in the Elizabethan court, conservative attacks on magic, and Europe's religious wars. John Dee was more than just a fringe magus, Parry shows: he was a major figure of the Reformation and Renaissance.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1157 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (24 April 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007P2WYU0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #199,348 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
By Sensible Cat VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The forthcoming London premiere of "Dr Dee, An English Opera" by Damon Albarn has given this account of the enigmatic magician's life a new topicality. "Dr Dee" appears to cast him in the role of an archetypal English eccentric but this fails to do justice to his intellectual brilliance and his position at the Elizabethan Court. Glyn Parry corrects this in a biography that concentrates on Dee's changing fortunes in the complex world of Tudor politics and post-Reformation religious conflicts and anxieties.

Dee began his long career as a Catholic priest and ended it as Warden of the Manchester Collegiate Church, attempting with limited success to distance himself from the Lancashire exorcisms of the late sixteenth century. His was a lonely and dangerous road, his occult affiliations and regular practice of "scrying" - the craft of communicating with angelic beings - laying him open to charges of malevolent conjuring. As Parry points out, however, it is easy for us to overlook the genuine appeal of alchemy and apocalyptic prophecy to the early modern intelligentsia at the highest levels. Elizabeth spent much of her life seriously pursuing the Philosopher's Stone, hoping to use the transmutation of base metal into gold to finance her increasingly expensive military ventures, and Dee's contacts with such luminaries as Mercator lent credence to his claims that colonies of the descendents of King Arthur inhabited the unknown lands accessed by the fabled North-West Passage.

Those who dismiss such beliefs are forgetting that they rested on the foundation of methodical study and experimentation by the leading intellects of the time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Arch-Conjuror of England: John Dee 12 Mar 2014
By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER
The name John Dee evokes visions of magic, alchemy, dark bubbling secrets and heavy tomes of forbidden words. But what lies behind the image of John Dee that has made his name so well-known, and what is the truth of the man behind that name? Born in 1527, John Dee died in 1609, so spanned the last of the Tudors and in particular the life and reign of Elizabeth I.

I found this a most interesting read, but not an easy one. Getting your head around Dee’s work and life was a read which required concentration and dedication; just trying to work out exactly what Dee was doing made me have to stop and think back quite a few times. But it was most definitely a worthwhile read. Placing Dee’s life and works in a context which coincided with England’s religious upheavals over the later Tudor reigns means that it allows the reader to understand how Dee and his genius could so easily be misunderstood; was he doing ‘magic’ or was it ‘science’? The author has succeeded wonderfully in placing Dee also within the context of the wider Tudor court; the views of Elizabeth I in particular, and her courtiers with the mythical and magical world of conjuring and the like means the reader is left with a much better understanding of how such things were viewed in the broader Tudor environment.

This is a long-awaited and much needed balanced biography of a much maligned and greatly misunderstood man, who lived and worked in a world that is so far removed from our own that it takes a rare scholar to be able to convey it to us. This the author has succeeded wonderfully in doing, without being disbeliving or patronising of the Elizabeth worldview. I think it will be a long time indeed before this biography of John Dee could possibly be surpassed or any new information brought to light on the man and his times.
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3.0 out of 5 stars though not always easy, read 14 Sep 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An interesting but rather dense account based on new sources and new interpretations of sources. The author offers some witticisms, especially in the earlier chapters. Dee is portrayed as a complex character: on the one hand he uses magic in a devious way to advance his career at court (albeit with mixed success); on the other hand he allows himself to be exploited and duped by Edward Kelley. I am not an expert in Tudor history. The author says that one of his main findings is that magic was taken seriously at court by the Queen and by many leading politicians. Others may judge the novelty or otherwise of this interpretation. I have a few pages left to read. Overall I had learned a lot about Dee and his times and it has been a worthwhile, though not always easy, read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Debunking some myths 25 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
A well-researched and readable biography, debunking the myths about Dee and putting into a proper historical context. Good on the scientific thinking behind his work.
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