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The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age (Routledge Classics)

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  318 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
It is hard to overestimate the importance of the contribution made by Dame Frances Yates to the serious study of esotericism and the occult sciences. To her work can be attributed the contemporary understanding of the occult origins of much of Western scientific thinking, indeed of Western civilization itself. The Occult Philosophy of the Elizabethan Age was her last book, ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 18th 2001 by Routledge (first published 1979)
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Jigar Brahmbhatt
Dec 22, 2016 Jigar Brahmbhatt rated it really liked it
Starting from Hermes Trismegistus, this book traces the path of occult philosophy as it entered the Renaissance world in the form of Christian Cabala, largely by attempts made by Pico Della Mirandola and others to introduce Christian symbolism into the Jewish Cabala . They showcased the semblance as the highest kind of learning and tried to remove any dark/devilish interpretations from the practices to make them pristine. Frances Yates argues that it is this form of Christian Cabala that managed ...more
Susan Berger-jones
Mar 16, 2010 Susan Berger-jones rated it it was amazing
I wanted to read this book but delayed because it seemed too dry. No. couldn't put it down. The relationships between Alchemy & Shakespeare was the best part of the book.
Jacob Aitken
Dame Frances Yates’ work is a study of Christian cabalism as it was understood in Elizabethan England. She argues that “occult” philosophy was the dominant philosophy and sees Cabala as “supposed esoteric tradition passed down from Moses through the ages. It includes the ‘Sephiroth,” “intermediaries or emanations of the divine” (Yates 2).”

Cabalism didn’t arise in a vacuum but was mediated through several countries, religious groups, and wandering philosophers (Bruno et al). These men gave us the
Yates' last book is a great read, touching upon essential points in the philosophy of a great many central figures of the esoteric renaissance. She makes a case for Christian Qabbalah being one of the most important uniting strains of thought in the works of these figures (Giorgi, Pico Della Mirondola, Dee, etc.), and does so convincingly.

At the same time, the works of such authors are linked to the literature and mythology of the Elizabethan age, which adds fascinating parts of art and literary
Maan Kawas
Mar 21, 2017 Maan Kawas rated it it was amazing
An excellent book by Fraces Yates which examines the occult philosopy (Hermeticism, Neoplatonism, Christian Cabala, magic, and the Rosicrucian) in the Elizabethan age and the Renaissance! The book also examines the works of great men of letters (e.g. Spenser, Sidney, Marlow, Johnson, Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, John Dee, Aggripp, Marsilius, and della Mirandola). through that philosophic lens! I found the book so enlightening and interesting, though difficult in some places. However, the book sho ...more
Christopher Plaisance
Oct 29, 2011 Christopher Plaisance rated it it was amazing
In this followup to her paradigm changing, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, Frances Yates explores the influences such disparate themes as the emergence of Christian Cabala, the influence of Cornelius Agrippa's (1486-1535) transvaluation of the Saturnine upon Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), the complex relationship between the Continental Reformation and the Hermetic revival, and John Dee's (1527-1608) influence on Elizabethan culture and literature. In all areas analyzed, Yates treats the ...more
Jan 02, 2009 Leonardo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Literary occultists
Éste es un libro literalmente seminal que ayudó a ampliar la visión que se tenía de la época isabelina y la interpretación de algunas de las obras literarias más representativas de esa época. A través de su amplia, pero no por ello menos detallista, recreación del ocultismo en la época de Isabel I, Yates nos presenta una época en que la filosofía, las religiones y la política se entrelazaban de manera fascinante, aunque no siempre amistosa. La primera parte del libro es una excelente y erudita i ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
I have said elsewhere that occultism is nonsense but often it can be beautiful nonsense. The late middle ages and the Renaissance inherited classical Neo-Platonism from the Christian tradition of the middle ages, from Moorish Spain it inherited both classical pagan philosophy and Christian, Jewish and Muslim mysticism. The ornate cosmology of the middle ages with numerology, astrology, the four elements and other arcana which was thought to be the best understanding of the universe at one time b ...more
Sep 20, 2016 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book, Frances A. Yates connects the Spanish expulsion of the Jews in 1492 to a search for a Christian Cabala, a synthesis to find a way of blending Judaism with Christianity.

Pico della Mirandola, Giordano Bruno, Cornellius Agrippa, and John Dee are prominent here. She also describes the pushback in England, fueled by Christopher Marlowe's anti-Semitic play, "The Jew of Malta." Marlowe's play fomented anti-Semitic riots. It is her assertion that Shakespeare wrote "The Merchant of Venice"
I picked this up more for the Elizabethan connection than anything else. I think it would help to have a good background in occult studies, something I do not have. I found her connection of certain Elizbethan occult beliefs to Cabbla intersting. My comments are on the literature connection.

I just have to say - Bassanio as a Jew? Nope, sorry. Don't buy it. I'll grant you, Dr. Yates, you made a good agrument. But no, as much as I love Shakespeare; I don't think Merchant was a love poem in ode of
Sep 02, 2013 Meeg rated it it was amazing
Fascinating! The Importance of Christian Kabbalah and other occult philosophies in the development of Renaissance thought and their role in the Reformation. Exploring works by Durer, Spenser, Marlowe, Shakespeare and Milton from an "occult philosophy" perspective. I could go on.
Reading this book, one gets the impression that this incorporates (sometimes summarizing, sometimes drawing new connections) material Yates wrote about in previous books and articles. That makes it seem like a great intr
Lauren Albert
The first part of Yates' book is devoted to reviewing the most important thinkers of "the occult philosophy." I found this the most interesting section of the book. I felt that her interpretations of Elizabethan literature in light of the occult philosophy (which most of the rest of the book was devoted)were rather a stretch and not always believable. But as she herself notes, she uncovers enough of value to make the topic worth pursuing.
Apr 25, 2009 Kreso rated it it was amazing
Nophoto-m-25x33 So if you thought the melancholic is the most boring of the 4 types of personality (other being phlegmatic, sanguinic, choleric) you're wrong.
Melancholic Saturn weathers all obstacles with stamina and memory.
Descartes fought protestants as a soldier 1620., near White Mountain, and had a vision (Angel coming and saying that nature shall be conquered by number.) 1637. he printed Discours sur la method, renouncing occultism.
Malini Sridharan
Jun 16, 2007 Malini Sridharan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bestever
Very interesting analysis of John Dee's occultism and its effects on Elizabeth's foreign policy and propaganda. Also includes a concise but informative review of the hermetic and occultist traditions that came before and may have influenced Dee. Yates goes so far in her interpretations that sometimes it reads almost like an umberto eco novel, but that is kind of a good thing.
Apr 18, 2013 Edward rated it it was amazing
Shelves: esoteric-art
Really excellent work by one of the greatest writers on the occult I've ever read. Her mastery is superb and especially helpful when trying to understand works by the likes of Gershom Scholem. Chapter by chapter she elucidates her theory of the development of a Christian Cabala. Cannot recommend it enough.
Jun 28, 2013 Graham rated it it was amazing
I found this in the gift shop of Shakespeare's Globe of all places, and took me the best part of a year to get around to reading it.

Readable, fascinating and incredibly illuminating. As useful for the purpose of serious academic
learning as it for satisfying an idle curiosity.

Apr 03, 2013 Eunice rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Handy book if you are interested in the occult philosophy and its development through time.
Paul Baldowski
Interesting treatment of religion, society, and the occult, marred by Yates' flights of fantasy and tenuous connections in the second part of the book.
Daemon Peterson
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Dame Frances Amelia Yates DBE FBA was an English historian who focused on the study of the Renaissance. In an academic capacity, she taught at the Warburg Institute of the University of London for many years, and also wrote a number of seminal books on the subject of esoteric history.

Yates was born to a middle-class family in Portsmouth, and was largely self-educated, before attaining a BA and MA
More about Frances A. Yates...

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“In the world of Ramon Lull, the brilliant civilisation of the Spanish Moslems, with its mysticism, philosophy, art, and science, was close at hand; the Spanish Jews had intensively developed their philosophy, their science and medicine, and their mysticism, or Cabala. To Lull, the Catholic Christian, occurred the generous idea that an Art, based on principles which all three religious traditions held in common, would serve to bind all three together on a common philosophical, scientific, and mystical basis.” 1 likes
“The Sephiroth, as defined by G. Scholem, are ‘the ten names most common to God and in their entirety they form his one great Name’.” 0 likes
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