Solomon’s Secret Arts

Paul Kléber Monod, Solomon’s Secret Arts. The occult in the age of Enlightenment.

Yale University Press, 2013


With these words showman Dr Gustavus Katterfelto, wearing a long black
cloak and cap, praised his demonstrations of scientific marvels such as
phosphorus matches, but also the revelation of ‘occult secrets’ in the
1780s. He is only one of the many ‘magicians’ mentioned in this – indeed
wonderful – book: although public acceptance of occult and magical
practices waxed and waned during the late 17th and 18th centuries, they
survived underground, experiencing a considerable revival in the mid-18th
century. The author shows how the occult spilled over into politics with
the radicalism of the French Revolution and into literature in early
Romanticism. Ultimately, the occult was never discarded in favour of
‘reason’, but was incorporated into new forms of learning.

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