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Occult Philos Elizabethan Age: 7 (Frances Yates Selected Works) Hardcover – 9 Sep 1999

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (9 Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415220505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415220507
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 16.5 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,925,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Among those who have explored the intellectual world of the sixteenth century, no one can rival Frances Yates. Wherever she looks, she illuminates . . . No one has done more than she to recreate, from unexpected material, the intellectual life of past ages.' – Hugh Trevor-Roper

'A welcome new edition of this classic work ...' – Network --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

'No one has done more that she to recreate, from unexpected material, the intellectual life of past ages.' - Hugh Trevor-Roper

It is hard to overestimate the importance of the contribution made by Dame Frances Yates to the serious study of esotericism and the occult sciences. To her work can be attributed the contemporary understanding of the occult origins of much of western scientific thinking, indeed of western civilization itself. 'The Occult Philosophy of the Elizabethan Age' was her last book, and in it she condensed many aspects of her wide learning to present a clear, penetrating, and, above all, accessible survey of the occult movements of the Renaissance, highlighting the work of John Dee, Giordano Bruno, and other key esoteric figures. The book is invaluable in illuminating the relationship between occultism and Renaissance thought, which in turn had a profound impact on the rise of science in the seventeenth century. Stunningly written and highly engaging, Yates' masterpiece is a must-read for anyone interested in the occult tradition.

Dame Frances Yates (1899-1981). Reader in the History of the Renaissance at the Warburg Institute, University of London. The leading Renaissance scholar of her time, she was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1977 in recognition of her services to Renaissance studies. Her other publications include 'The Art of Memory' and 'The Rosicrucian Enlightenment'. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Customer Reviews

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By doubledown@supanet.com on 28 July 2001
Format: Paperback
An outstanding accomplishment by a writer who has given so much fresh understanding on this subject over the years. The real marvel is how anyone could do so much justice to an important review of such lives as those of John Dee, Pico Della Mirandola, Francesco Giorgi, Henry Cornelius Agrippa et al. This is a real gem and Dame Frances Yates shows the way yet again for the historians in rescuing such important figures from the shadowy world of Renaissance 'Magic'
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Omnibus Biscuit on 29 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
To preface, my credentials as a reviewer of historical or literary scholarship are nought. I am a layman with an interest in medieval and religious history. This book was, however, fascinating and I ripped through it.

I disagree that it is stuffy in parts, I believe the style, depth and indeed pace is apt for the subject and nature of the material, but written in way that is perfectly accessible for a non-scholarly audience, unlike many books published by routledge.

The themes are, as a previous reviewer described, revelatory, and where the author saw reason to question the accuracy of her interpretations, has pointed this out. This seems appropriate given the very original and provocative nature of the scholarship, and as such lent an added air of credibility.

Overall I was thrilled with this book and throughout was imbued with confidence that the authors reading of history was both unbiased and well considered. I would recommend highly to anyone with an interest in history of the occult or renaissance era Christianity, but certainly not for those who wish to explore the occult itself in any depth, for this book neither is nor pertains to be about that.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By disturbedchinchilla on 17 May 2009
Format: Paperback
It's undeniable that Frances Yates' corpus of work represented a genuine breakthrough in historical and literary studies. Yates' studies genuinely changed the way we looked at the Renaissance. It's also hard to imagine Keith Thomas' 'Religion and the decline of Magic', the new historicism of Stephen Greenblatt or the place of the occult in popular culture without her influence.

However, It would also be a fair comment to say that 'The Occult Philosophy..' is a pretty stuffy read in places. It was obviously written for a scholarly market and as such, much of it functions as a literature review, commenting on and criticising other writers in the same field. The opening chapters on contemporary cabalistic philosophy are hard going, unless of course you've specialist interest in this area in the first place. Strange and mysterious it might be, but Elizabethan occult philosophy often comes across as a tediously elaborate system: a handbook for supernatural civil-servants.

There's also a great deal of speculation - Yates' is often caught wondering if such-and-such had seen such-and-such painting, or whether so-and-so is referring to this really obscure piece of cabala... All of this undermines the revolutionary import of her thesis. Although most of the work is firmly grounded in textual research, you do feel at times that Yates is wrestling the facts into a shape that fits squarely with her ideas.

That said, I found the three chapters on Durer and Melancholy, Chapman's 'Shadow of Night' and Christopher Marlowe totally fascinating. Her work on Shakespeare is revelatory, and her reading of 'The Merchant of Venice' in terms of Jewish mysticism had me scuttling back to the original text. I doubt somehow that i'll be hunting down the lesser known works of Cornelius Agrippa with as much zest...
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