Vast like the subcontinent itself and teeming with outrageous and exotic characters, Net of Magic is an enthralling voyage through the netherworld of Indian magic. Lee Siegel, scholar and magician, uncovers the age-old practices of magic in sacred rites and rituals and unveils the contemporary world of Indian magic of street and stage entertainers.
Siegel's journeys take him from ancient Sanskrit texts to the slums of New Delhi to find remnants of a remarkable magical tradition. In the squalid settlement of Shadipur, he is initiated into a band of Muslim street conjurers and performs as their shill while they tutor him in their con and craft. Siegel also becomes acquainted with Hindu theatrical magicians, who claim descent from court illusionists and now dress as maharajahs to perform a repertoire of tricks full of poignant kitsch and glitz.
Masterfully using a panoply of narrative sleights to recreate the magical world of India, Net of Magic intersperses travelogue, history, ethnography, and fiction. Siegel's vivid, often comic tale is crowded with shills and stooges, tourists and pickpockets, snake charmers and fakirs. Among the cast of characters are Naseeb, a poor Muslim street magician who guides Siegel into the closed circle of itinerant performers; the Industrial Magician, paid by a bank, who convinces his audience to buy traveler's checks by making twenty-rupee notes disappear; the Government Magician, who does a trick with condoms to encourage family planning; P. C. Sorcar, Jr., the most celebrated Indian stage magician; and the fictive Professor M. T. Bannerji, the world's greatest magician, who assumes various guises over a millennium of Indian history and finally arrives in the conjuring capital of the world—Las Vegas.
Like Indra's net—the web of illusion in which Indian performers ensnare their audience—Net of Magic captures the reader in a seductive portrayal of a world where deception is celebrated and lies are transformed into compelling and universal truths.
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Lee Siegel is professor of religion at the University of Hawaii and a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. His books include Laughing Matters: Comic Tradition in India, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
Siegel, a professor of religion at the University of Hawaii and an amateur magician, explores magic in India, a place that is for him a "cauldron of illusions." He enters the magicians' world by eating with them, performing his own tricks for them and ultimately shilling for them. The first half of the book is devoted to the wandering, low-caste Muslim street magicians. The second discusses stage magicians, descendents of royal court conjurers and seers. Siegel blends history and religious studies, fiction (in the form of short stories centered on traditional tricks in the magicians' repertoire) and travel ramble as he takes us from the slums of Delhi to Madras in the south and Kashmir in the north. For Siegel, India is a country of many nationalities where religion divides and magic is the unifying factor. Using vivid word pictures, he conveys the sights, sounds and smells of a land where truth transcends mere fact, where illusions serve as "escapes from the discomforts" of life. Siegel's ( Laughing Matters: Comic Tradition in India ) colorful narrative about our need to be deceived and the delight we take therein avoids the pitfall he finds in many books on magic--what is astonishing when seen becomes astonishingly dull in print.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Buchbeschreibung Chicago, The University of Chicago Press., 1991. 23 cm x 16,5 cm. VIII, 455 pages. Original Softcover. Very good condition with only minor signs of external wear. From the library of philosopher Graham Parkes. Inscribed and signed by the author. Includes for example the following essays: Wandering Magicians / The Indian Rope Trick / East/SSpring: The Reflections of Professor M.T. Bannerji 1 / The Skull of Vishvasiddhi etc etc. Artikel-Nr. 70258AB