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The Alchemist in Literature – From Dante to the Present - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Alchemist in Literature: From Dante to the Present

Theodore Ziolkowski


This book traces the figure of the alchemist in Western literature from its first appearance in Dante down to the present. From the beginning alchemy has had two aspects: exoteric or operative (the transmutation of baser metals into gold) and esoteric or speculative (the spiritual transformation of the alchemist himself). From Dante to Ben Jonson, during the centuries when the belief in exoteric alchemy was still strong, writers in many literatures treated alchemists with ridicule. From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, as that belief weakened, the figure of the alchemist disappeared, even ... More

Keywords: alchemy, alchemist, transmutation, spiritism, C. G. Jung, magnum opus, Paracelsus, satirization, spiritualization

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2015 Print ISBN-13: 9780198746836
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198746836.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Theodore Ziolkowski, author
Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature, Princeton University