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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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Conclusion, or Quinta Essentia

Conclusion, or Quinta Essentia

(p.229) 8 Conclusion, or Quinta Essentia
The Alchemist in Literature

Theodore Ziolkowski

Oxford University Press

This conclusion summarizes the findings of the study: a clear line of development from satirization through stages of spiritualization to trivialization by excessive popularization. During periods of satire the works tended to be broadly international, embracing writers from many languages and cultures. Spiritualization, in contrast, is colored by local and historical factors. It began in Protestant cultures as writers sought images that were not indebted to Catholicism. The figure of the alchemist was then taken up by Romantic writers as a symbol for the self-destructively obsessive search for the absolute. Later the spiritualized figure was taken up by poets as an image of the poet. Following World War I, a widespread turn to occultism involved alchemists. The appeal of alchemy lies in the fact that it offers to change present reality by bringing wealth, producing elixirs for the body, or transforming the spirit.

Keywords:   development, spiritualization, satirization, Protestantism, Romanticism, occultism, nationalism, Jung, transformation

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