Athanasius Kircher's Theatre of the World: The Life and Work of the Last Man to Search for Universal Knowledge

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9781594773297: Athanasius Kircher's Theatre of the World: The Life and Work of the Last Man to Search for Universal Knowledge

A major study of both the written and pictorial work of a neglected genius whose breadth of interest made him the last Renaissance man

· Fully examines every area of Kircher’s wide field of study and accomplishment

· Magnificently illustrated with the stunning engravings from Kircher’s work

Jesuit, linguist, archaeologist, and exceptional scholar, Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680) was the last true Renaissance man. To Kircher the entire world was a glorious manifestation of God whose exploration was both a scientific quest and a religious experience. His works on Egyptology (he is credited with being the first Egyptologist), music, optics, magnetism, geology, and comparative religion were the definitive texts of their time--and yet they represent only a part of his vast range of knowledge. A Christian Hermeticist in the mold of Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, his work also examined alchemy, the Kabbalah, and the Egyptian mystery tradition exemplified by Hermes Trismegistus.

The Hermetic cast of Kircher’s thought, which was foreign to the concerns of those propelling the Age of Reason, coupled with the breadth of his interests, caused many of his contributions to be widely overlooked--an oversight now masterfully rectified by Joscelyn Godwin. It has been said that Kircher could think only in images. While this is an exaggeration, the stunning engravings that are a distinguishing feature of his work are included here so we may fully appreciate and see for ourselves the life work, philosophy, and achievements of “the last man who knew everything.”

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HERMETIC STUDIES / ALCHEMY

Linguist, archaeologist, and exceptional scholar, Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680) was the last true Renaissance man.  By profession a Jesuit priest, he made himself an authority on almost every subject under the sun.  To Kircher the entire world was a glorious manifestation of God, and his exploration was both a scientific quest and a religious experience.  His works on Egyptology (he is credited with being the first Egyptologist), music, optics, magnetism, geology, and comparative religion were the definitive tests of their time--and yet they represent only a part of his vast range of knowledge.  A Christian Hermeticist in the mold of Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, his work also examined alchemy, the Kabbalah, and the Egyptian Mystery tradition exemplified by Hermes Trismegistus.  Kircher was the first to map ocean currents; the first to offer a comprehensive theory of vulcanism; the first to compile an encyclopedia on China, a dictionary of Coptic, a book dedicated solely to acoustics; the first to construct a machine for coding messages and another for composing music.  His museum in Rome was among the most famous "cabinets of curiosities," visited by everybody in the intellectual world.

The Hermetic cast of Kircher's thought, which was foreign to the concerns of those propelling the Age of Reason, coupled with the breadth of his interests, caused many of his contributions to be widely overlooked--an oversight now masterfully rectified by Joscelyn Godwin. It has been said that Kircher could think only in images. While this is an exaggeration, 400 of the stunning engravings that are a distinguishing feature of his work are included here so we may fully appreciate, learn from, and see for ourselves the life work, philosophy, and achievements of "the last man who knew everything."

JOSCELYN GODWIN, musicologist and translator, is a professor of music at Colgate University. He first explored the life and work of Athanasius Kircher in 1979 in his book A Renaissance Man and the Quest for Lost Knowledge.  Godwin was educated at Cambridge and Cornell Universities and has authored and edited many books on Hermeticism and music, including Cosmic Music, The Golden Thread, The Harmony of the Spheres, and Arktos: The Polar Myth.  He is also known for his translations of the works of such figures as Fabre d'Olivet and Julius Evola and the first complete English translation of Francesco Colonna's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. He lives in New York state.

About the Author:

Joscelyn Godwin is a professor of music at Colgate University and the author of many books on Hermeticism and music, including Cosmic Music, The Golden Thread, The Harmony of the Spheres, and Arktos. He is also known for his translations of the works of such figures as Fabre d’Olivet and Julius Evola as well as Francesco Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. He lives in New York State.

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