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The Alchemist in LiteratureFrom Dante to the Present$
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Theodore Ziolkowski

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198746836

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198746836.001.0001

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Satirizations, or Nigredo

Satirizations, or Nigredo

(p.16) 2 Satirizations, or Nigredo
The Alchemist in Literature

Theodore Ziolkowski

Oxford University Press

This chapter traces satirizations of the alchemist from the late Middle Ages (Dante) to the Renaissance (Ben Jonson), citing such examples as Chaucer’s Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale, Sebastian Brant’s Ship of Fools, Rabelais’s Gargantua and Pantagruel, Rollenhagen’s Froschmeuseler (featuring Reineke the fox), and Andreae’s Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz. Beginning with the historical context—from the views of Thomas Aquinas and the works of the principal alchemists (notably “The Journeyman’s Years of Salomon Trismosin”) from the period down to the discrediting of alchemy by Enlightenment science—the chapter describes four waves in treatments of the alchemist: from France and Italy by way of England to Germany and the Netherlands, and back again to England and Germany. The chapter concludes with an analysis of Andreae’s enormously influential Chymical Wedding.

Keywords:   satirization, Chymical Wedding, Dante, Chaucer, Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale, Ship of Fools, Salomon Trismosin, nigredo

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