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There are not many books I will read in 2 evenings - this is one of them superb!
on 21 August 2016
I read Woolley’s ‘The Herbalist’ whilst I was writing ‘A Certain Measure of Perfection’. Quite apart from the subject content, this is a more structured book and is a true reflection of the multifaceted life of Dr. Dee. It has to span a plethora of areas from Dee’s own history and how he came to be at Mortlake, his interactions with the Elizabethan Court circle and the ambiguity of his relationship with Marian Catholicism, his abilities in mathematics and astrology and his under-reported role in navigation and the ambitions of Empire.
However, most intriguing is his relationship with his skryer, Edward Kelley, one which would bring him into contact with spirits such as Uriel and Madimi, drag him to Poland and Bohemia and, ultimately, into breaking the Commandments, having all things in common.
The copious sourcing and referencing at the back make this a valuable contribution to study.
It left me wondering quite what Dee really thought about Talbot-Kelley as well as how Kelley cold have come to know so much even if he did ‘borrow’ some of the books Dee set apart from his Mortlake Library – which was to be ransacked and sold off during their Central European sojourns. [There may be one pertinent piece of archival material which has not been examined here.] It also left me thinking about the extent to which Dee merges with his alter-ego archetype of the fallen Renaissance Man, Dr Faustus, and the manner in which the obsession with the alchemical creation of gold to fill state coffers - even at the expense of further debt - prefigures our own global debt crisis.