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The Place of Enchantment - British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern (Anglais) Broché – 14 avril 2004


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Présentation de l'éditeur

By the end of the nineteenth century, Victorians were seeking rational explanations for the world in which they lived. The radical ideas of Charles Darwin had shaken traditional religious beliefs. Sigmund Freud was developing his innovative models of the conscious and unconscious mind. And anthropologist James George Frazer was subjecting magic, myth, and ritual to systematic inquiry. Why, then, in this quintessentially modern moment, did late-Victorian and Edwardian men and women become absorbed by metaphysical quests, heterodox spiritual encounters, and occult experimentation?

In answering this question for the first time, The Place of Enchantment breaks new ground in its consideration of the role of occultism in British culture prior to World War I. Rescuing occultism from its status as an "irrational indulgence" and situating it at the center of British intellectual life, Owen argues that an involvement with the occult was a leitmotif of the intellectual avant-garde. Carefully placing a serious engagement with esotericism squarely alongside revolutionary understandings of rationality and consciousness, Owen demonstrates how a newly psychologized magic operated in conjunction with the developing patterns of modern life. She details such fascinating examples of occult practice as the sex magic of Aleister Crowley, the pharmacological experimentation of W. B. Yeats, and complex forms of astral clairvoyance as taught in secret and hierarchical magical societies like the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Through a remarkable blend of theoretical discussion and intellectual history, Owen has produced a work that moves far beyond a consideration of occultists and their world. Bearing directly on our understanding of modernity, her conclusions will force us to rethink the place of the irrational in modern culture.

“An intelligent, well-argued and richly detailed work of cultural history that offers a substantial contribution to our understanding of Britain.”—Nick Freeman, Washington Times

Biographie de l'auteur

Alex Owen is professor of history and gender studies at Northwestern University. She is the author of The Darkened Room, also published by the University of Chicago Press.


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In September 1898 two respectable Victorians met in a private house in London for the express purpose of traveling to the planets. Lire la première page
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17 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Rational Spirit and the Modern 4 janvier 2005
Par Samuel E. Wagar - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
An exceptionally fine piece of work. Owen's use of sources is excellent - published and unpublished accounts of magickal workings and the documents of occult orders. Her understanding of magickal subjectivity and the reflexivity of modernism is very insightful. Her argument that occultism was central to the formation of modernity is brilliant - in opposition to the usual idea that modernism was opposed to spirituality.I'd reccommend reading Joy Dixon's fine "Divine Feminine", Judith Walkowitz' "City of Dreadful Delights" and Leon Surette's "Birth of Modernism" as well.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Fascinating, well-written reference book 5 mai 2014
Par M. R. Kelly - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
I came across this book because I am doing research on 19th-century religious and spiritual practices in conjunction with a project on Oscar Wilde. It has been a godsend for me in the way it frames the secular - religious debate of the time in a useful, innovative, and convincing way. Amazingly well researched and well written. It covers British occultism but also so much more: feminism, sexuality, spirituality, secularism. A fascinating and informative read.
4 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Good overview 8 octobre 2005
Par Mycroft - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This is a fair to good overview of the people & the period, although I think Owens makes over much of her "women's rights" notions. It is well researched & footnoted. Owens could have done much more on the influence of the GD at the turn of the century.
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