Lull & Bruno * Frances Amelia Yates (isbn 0710009526)

As ironic as it seems, the last book of Frances Yates (1899-1981) was not made available to the larger audience. This book is a so called “library binding” which you can get from Amazon, but for a price of $120,-! This was the first volume of a series in which Yates wanted to collect essays that she had written over the years. As the title suggest the essays here are about Ramon Lull and Giordano Bruno with a lengthy preface by Yates herself. She didn’t live to see the other volumes being released.
There are four essays taling a time of several decades. First there are two very long and very in-depth articles about Ramon Lull and his Art (“Lullism”) which definately filfulled my wish to not only read something about interesting occultists of times past, but also about what they had to say. These articles were about the first efforts ever undertaken to find Lullist ‘doctrines’ in his many writings. Quite a perilous undertaking by the way, because when Yates wrote her first article, there wasn’t even a list of all known writings by Ramon Lull, let alone books publishing them, translations, a place where she could find a lot of them together or anything in that vein. Yates travelled back and forth through Europe to visit public and private libraries to read the texts that she could find in the original languages (often we only have a translation left and Lull wrote in different languages). Of course she didn’t even read a small portion of the entire material. The first two articles are as said long, difficult (even though Yates has a nice writing-style), but very interesting and with quite a lot of pictures and as Yates wrote, they are more a starting point for Lullist-investigators than a comprehensive and final investigation.
The second part are four shorter articles about Giordanu Bruno’s life and work. A whole article about Bruno and the Oxford University of his time, one about a long poem of his, a not too interesting article about Bruno’s poetry in general and a very nice and short article about Giordanu Bruno and John Dee as contemporaries.

However Yates’ books were mostly written before I was born her books are still of the more interesting that I know. Her writing style is pleasent, her subjects interesting if you are interested in the occult history of the West and in contradiction to for example books of Baigent/Leigh, there is not only history, but also information about what the people described has to say, which makes her books a ‘must-read’.
If you are not yet familiar with Bruno and Lull, I wouldn’t recommand this book as an introduction. Read some of Yates’ more public books first. If you are lucky enough to have a library around which has this title and you are familiar with Yates and the Renaissance occultists, be sure to read this one too!

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