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This selction of works gives a basic overview of Paracelsus' writing and thought in a comprehensive, yet, fairly easy to digest compendium. Edited by Jolande Jocobi for the Princeton "Mythos Series" does a wonderful job splicing together many of Paracelsus' works together in a rather cohesive and streamlined format. The subjects range from the creation of the universe to the practice of the physician to alchemy and art in general. If one is looking for a specific aspect of Paracelsus, this may not be the book to get, however, if one just wants to read or get a trace of his writings, then there is no better book to buy.
The writing is somewhat archaic, however, if one takes the time to understand what is written in the first couple of pages, then one can appreciate the point of view Paracelsus is coming from. In another way of saying this, according to Paracelsus, God and Man are intricately united and there is nothing on this Earth or the Universe that can separate the two. From this understanding Paracelsus stems all his other experiences and revelations.
The introduction by Jacobi is a fairly extensive biography of Phillipus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hoenheim called Paracelsus (which means "beyond celsus"). Throughout the book are many engravings from various artists from his books or other various books that pertain to the topic at hand. As stated, the book offers a wide variety of subjects for the reader to chew from which may make this book limited in range as it is a book of "Selected Writings", however, I believe if one is beginning to look into the works of Paracelsus, this might be the best place to start.
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Some of the stroies are charming, such as the fabel of the Turnip and the Honey-pot. Other stories made absolutley no sense. But I had fun trying to crack these weird nuts.
I enjoyed the translation. It is not as energetic as Seamus Heaney, or J. B. Phillipws, but it is readable, athough you realize that you are reading a translation.
C. S. Lewis, in his preface to "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," mentions that as children we read fairy tales, then we outgow them. Then, as adults, we come back to these stories and read them with different eyes. I had that experince with this book.
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Unfortunately, as the main character Agnieszka breaks in her own way, the plot fails ... there has not been sufficient psychological change to motivate the change in behavior.
As an anti-Communist piece of Polish literature, the book is interesting; as a universal piece of humanity under repression it fails. I suspect, however, that the author's talent may have (or will) produced better works.
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