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About this book
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.
<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
490 pages, no illustrations
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