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Joscelyn Godwin - Athanasius Kircher
A Renaissance Man and the Quest for Lost Knowledge

ATHANASIUS KIRCHER (1602-80) stands out as one of the last all-encompassing minds, living in the age of Descartes and Newton, but expounding his knowledge in the light of a unified, spiritual world-view. For this true Renaissance man the whole cosmos was a glorious theophany waiting to be explored.
Kircher was a Jesuit and an archaeologist, a phenomenal linguist, and at the same time an avid collector of scientific experiments and geographical exploration. He probed the secrets of the subterranean world, deciphered archaic languages, experimented with alchemy and music-therapy, optics and magnetism.
Egyptian mystery wisdom, Greek, Cabbalistic and Christian philosophy met on common ground in Kircher's work, as he reinterpreted the history of man's scientific and artistic collaboration with God and Nature; his sumptuous, encyclopaedic volumes were revered throughout Europe. His gigantic oeuvre is approached here through the engravings that are such a striking feature of his books. Most of them are reprinted now for the first time, together with annotations and an introduction to Kircher's life and work.

The author was born in England and lives in the United States, where he is Associate Professor of Music at Colgate University, New York State. He has also published in this series Robert Fludd : Hermetic philosopher and surveyor of two worlds (1979).



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