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  • Edition: 00
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-07-17
  • Publisher: W W NORTON

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Although there is lively disagreement concerning the precise definition and dates of the European Enlightenment, scholars generally include among its principal features great strides in the liberation of human thought from superstition and traditional religion and the retreat of the concept of the supernatural before the advance of empirical science. In this book John V. Fleming shows how the impulses of enlightenment were challenged by tenacious religious ideas or channeled into the "darker" pursuits of the esoteric and the occult. His engaging topics include the stubborn survival of the miraculous, the Enlightenment roles of Rosicrucianism and Free Masonry, and the widespread pursuit of magic and alchemy. He follows some of the complexities and contradictions of the "Age of Lights" into the biographies of two of its extraordinary offspring: the controversial wizard known as Count Cagliostro and the sentimental novelist, Pietist preacher, and political mystic Julie de Krüdener.

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