31 Aug 2019

Magic by the Books

Frank Klaassen. Making Magic in Elizabethan England: Two Early Modern Vernacular Books of Magic (Magic in History) Pennsylvania State University Press (21 Aug. 2019)

Gianni Paganini, Margaret C. Jacob, John Christian Laursen (editors). Clandestine Philosophy: New Studies on Subversive Manuscripts in Early Modern Europe, 1620-1823 (UCLA Clark Memorial Library Series) University of Toronto Press (22 Aug. 2019)


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Frank Klaassen. Making Magic in Elizabethan England: Two Early Modern Vernacular Books of Magic (Magic in History) Pennsylvania State University Press (21 Aug. 2019)

This volume presents editions of two fascinating anonymous and untitled manuscripts of magic produced in Elizabethan England: the Antiphoner Notebook and the Boxgrove Manual. Frank Klassen uses these texts, which he argues are representative of the overwhelming majority of magical practitioners, to explain how magic changed during this period and how those changes were crucial to the formation of modern magic.

The Boxgrove Manual is a work of learned ritual magic that synthesizes material from Henry Cornelius Agrippa, the Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy, Heptameron, and various medieval conjuring works. The Antiphoner Notebook concerns the common magic of treasure hunting, healing, and protection, blending medieval conjuring and charm literature with materials drawn from Reginald Scot's famous anti-magic work, Discoverie of Witchcraft. Klaassen painstakingly traces how the scribes who created these two manuscripts adapted and transformed their original sources. In so doing, he demonstrates the varied and subtle ways in which the Renaissance, the Reformation, new currents in science, the birth of printing, and vernacularization changed the practice of magic.

Illuminating the processes by which two sixteenth-century English scribes went about making a book of magic, this volume provides insight into the wider intellectual culture surrounding the practice of occultism in the early modern period.

Gianni Paganini, Margaret C. Jacob, John Christian Laursen (editors). Clandestine Philosophy: New Studies on Subversive Manuscripts in Early Modern Europe, 1620-1823 (UCLA Clark Memorial Library Series) University of Toronto Press (22 Aug. 2019)

Clandestine philosophical manuscripts, made up of forbidden works including erotic texts, political pamphlets, satires of court life, forbidden religious texts, and books about the occult, had an avid readership in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, becoming objects of historical research by the twentieth century. The purveyors of the clandestine could be found in the Dutch Republic, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, and not least in Paris or London. Despite the heavy risks, including prison, the circulation of these manuscripts was a prosperous venture.

After Ira Wade's pioneering contribution (1938), Clandestine Philosophy is the first work in English entirely focused on the philosophical clandestine manuscripts that preceded and accompanied the birth of the Enlightenment. Topics from philosophy, political and religious thought, and moral and sexual behaviour are addressed by contemporary authors working in both America and Europe. These manuscripts shed light on the birth of pornography and provide an important avenue for investigating philosophical, religious, political, and social critique.