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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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Spiritualizations, or Rubedo

Spiritualizations, or Rubedo

(p.149) 6 Spiritualizations, or Rubedo
The Alchemist in Literature

Theodore Ziolkowski

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with a survey of the theoretical revivals of alchemy immediately before and after World War I by such scholars as Herbert Silberer, Edmund von Lippmann, “Fulcanelli,” and others. This interest inspired the American poets Ezra Pound, “H. D.,” and Robert Hillyer to introduce the alchemist as representative of the poet/artist. In Germany, meanwhile, several novelists were obsessed with the figure of the alchemist: notably Werner Bergengruen, Gustav Meyrink, and Franz Spunda, who are less interested in the practice of exoteric alchemy and more so in alchemy as a spiritualizing force. Each national literature tends to favor its own national alchemist: Nicolas Flamel in France; John Dee in England; and Paracelsus in Germany. During those same years C. G. Jung devoted lectures to Paracelsus as “the spiritual man,” but soon turned more generally to alchemy for “the idea of redemption” and for its “primordial images.”

Keywords:   Fulcanelli, John Dee, Paracelsus, Jung, redemption, primordial images, rubedo

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