Most helpful positive review
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
If "revelatory" weren't such a big word, I'd use it!
on 4 June 2007
A book about memory? Mnemonics, eh? Dull stuff...
WRONG!!! This is just about the most engrossing scholarly work I have ever read. Quite apart from displaying a masterly grasp of her subject, which is far more interesting than I would have believed before reading the book, Yates throws fascinating light on a number of seemingly unrelated topics: the Roman art of rhetoric, the architecture of the Globe theatre, the foundations of Renaissance syncretism, the rise of the scientific method, the delightful irony of a patron saint of science turning out to be an arch-magician, psychological aspects of imagination... -- the list is a long one.
However, for me, it is Yates' illumination of the profound relationship between the scientific method and earlier attempts at mastering the universe by magical means, that stands out as a single, most important aspect of the book. In fact, I would go as far as to say that no study of history and/or philosophy of science can be complete without acknowledging and exploring the relevant insights of "The Art of Memory".
If you have any interest in human attempts to comprehend and control the universe, a well-thumbed copy of this book should be on your bookshelf!