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Science and the Secrets of Nature: Books of Secrets in Medieval and Early Modern Culture

By: William Eamon

490 pages, no illustrations

Princeton University Press

Paperback | Jun 1996 | #53757 | ISBN: 0691026025
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £48.99 $64/€56 approx
Hardback | Dec 1994 | #31523 | ISBN: 0691034028
Out of Print Details

About this book

By explaining how to sire multicolored horses, produce nuts without shells, and create an egg the size of a human head, Giambattista Della Porta's Natural Magic (1559) conveys a fascination with tricks and illusions that makes it a work difficult for historians of science to take seriously. Yet, according to William Eamon, it is in the "how-to" books written by medieval alchemists, magicians, and artisans that modern science has its roots. These compilations of recipes on everything from parlor tricks through medical remedies to wool-dyeing fascinated medieval intellectuals because they promised access to esoteric "secrets of nature."

In closely examining this rich but little-known source of literature, Eamon reveals that printing technology and popular culture had as great, if not stronger, an impact on early modern science as did the traditional academic disciplines.

Eamon gives a rich and lively account of authors and writings that were always unacademic, unscrupulous, unprofessional, turbulent, and unsettled: that is to say, an account of the popular or seamy side of medicine and natural knowledge in medieval and early modern times... A book of many unusual topics... Eamon is very learned and writes eloquently. -- A. Rupert Hall Nature Eamon ... provide[s] plenty of material for thought in this multifaceted volume. -- Charles Burnett The New York Times Book Review Unusually well crafted... Eamon has many valuable things to say about science as a sacrament. -- John North The Times Literary Supplement


<table><TR><TD> <TD>List of Illustrations and Tables <TR><TD>Pt. 1 <TD>The Literature of Secrets <TR><TD>1 <TD>The Literature of Secrets in the Middle Ages <TR><TD>2 <TD>Knowledge and Power <TR><TD>Pt. 2 <TD>The Secrets of Nature in the Age of Printing <TR><TD>3 <TD>Arcana Disclosed <TR><TD>4 <TD>The Professors of Secrets and Their Books <TR><TD>5 <TD>Leonardo Fioravanti, Vendor of Secrets <TR><TD>6 <TD>Natural Magic and the Secrets of Nature <TR><TD>7 <TD>The Secrets of Nature in Popular Culture <TR><TD>Pt. 3 <TD>The "New Philosophy" <TR><TD>8 <TD>Science as a Venatio <TR><TD>9 <TD>The Virtuosi and the Secrets of Nature <TR><TD>10 <TD>From the Secrets of Nature to Public Knowledge <TR><TD> <TD>Conclusion <TR><TD> <TD>Appendix: Secreti Italiani: Italian Booklets of Secrets, ca. 1520-1643 <TR><TD> <TD>Abbreviations <TR><TD> <TD>Notes <TR><TD> <TD>Bibliography <TR><TD> <TD>Index

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