For the first time scriptures of Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) are available in Dutch. Bruno was an influential philosopher from Italy. In Italy he lived during the late Renaissance, when he started to travel Europe (Paris, London, Prague, etc.) he was involved in the early renaissance, since the renaissance started in Bruno’s own country. Bruno was fanatically anti-Aristotle and pro Copernicus. He wrote esoteric texts in Latin and more philosophical in Italian. Most of the Italian texts were written during his stay in London and it is these from which an anthology is taken. Unfortunately no mnemonic, Lullian or magical writings, but more easthetical, philosophical ones. Not all texts (that are written as conversations between different people) are translated, but the translaters (Boeke and Krone) took the texts so that all typical ‘Brunian’ standpoints are dealt with. The texts are elucidated by Lamoen who did a fine job. The texts aren’t very easy to read, though well-translated. Bruno uses numerous layers of mythology with seemed to have been relatively normal in his days, but doesn’t make things very easy in our own time. Further the whole book is fairly academical. It is one of the first times that Bruno is available for a wider audience, so I suppose we have to see this book as a transition and hope that even more accessible books will appear in the near future.
Anyway, the publisher Ambo made a very beautiful book with a tastefull minimalistic layout. The texts are (as mentioned) translated very well, are explained, there are notes, an extensive index, all you need for a proper book. Fairly expensive, but worth the money if you are interested in this controvertial Italian thinker who ended at the stake. Hopefully his magical texts will be available in an understandable version sometime soon as well.
This little booklet is from the ‘symposion-series’ of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum. This is a very gnostic Rosicrucian movement that was founded in the Netherlands in the previous century, but has grown very international over the years. Very often there are symposia for members and since a short time, also for non-members. Every now and then there is a big symposion. The texts of the readers on the big symposia are always released in very nice-looking small booklets. So far we had Spinoza, Ficino (see elsewhere), Jacob Boehme, Paracelcus, Terug Naar De Bron (Back To The Source) and this one.
There are six articles in this 70 page booklet. Not exclusively on Bruno and naturally with a very Rosicrucian touch, but especially the article of Peter Huijs (of who I reviewed a book as well) is a very nice introduction in the person and the teachings of this late-Renaissance heretic. Get in touch with the Lectorium to get it, for E 11,- and p+p it is yours.
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!
Strange that I forgot to review this book. I have read it a long time ago and I bought it when writing my article about the philosophical Renaissance. In this book Yates places Giordano Bruno in the Hermetic Tradition of the Renaissance. This was started by Marsilio Ficino who not only translated the Corpus Hermeticum but also had a system of natural magic. A student of Ficino, Giovani Pico, combined these with Kabala, thus forming a Christian Cabala. And so a new magical tradition comes forth combining the teachings of Hermes, Christian Cabala, alchemy and neoplatonism and other classical teachings. All but one magician say to be good Christians, all but Giordano Bruno who was of the opinion that the world was better off with the religion of Hermes Trismegistus. Bruno was burned at the stake in 1600. Of course you learn a lot about Bruno, but also other main figures in the Hermetic Tradition in the Renaissance. This makes this books THE reference book for the subject. Yates (1891-1981) was an historican and the first who wrote about this and similar subjects for a larger audience. Most of her writings are historical but sometimes you do get an overview of the ideas of the people she writes about. In her time she had to travel all over the world to read original documents in their original languages. A pioneer whose works are still of the best to get if you are interested in material like this.
Yates was THE investigator of the occult in the Renaissance, especially the magic of Giordano Bruno. When writing the book about Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (see elsewhere) she felt she needed to dig into another subject first, being the art of memory. This was used since classical times and Yates recognises three sources. 1, the anonymous “Ad Herennium” which for a long time had been thought to be by Cicero. 2, Cicero himself, especially in his “De Oratoria” and 3, Quintillian. Other classical writers have thouched upon the subject such as Aristotle who was already very influential in the Middle Ages. Yates tells us about the history of the art and the major contributors. For me the most interesting chapters are that about ‘the art of Ramon Lull as an art of memory’ and the various chapters about Giordano Bruno. Yates shows how the classical art of memory gets an Hermetic and Cabalistic twist in the Renaissance and ‘that other tradtion’ founded by Ramon Lull too. The art
of memory becomes the basis of the magical systems of the Renaissance and however Yates us usually strictly historical, in this book the investigates the subject very thoroughly! Without a doubt, this is the book in which Yates enlightens us most about the systems and ideas themselves! A wonderfull book with a couple of unmissable chapters if you are interested in the occult Renaissance.