Kevin Jackson


The Book of Magic: From Antiquity to the Enlightenment


Penguin 643pp £30 order from our bookshop

Brian Copenhaver’s hefty anthology of some three-thousand-odd years of writing on magic is wide-ranging, bracingly independent-minded and deliciously erudite. The book is arranged in chronological order and divided into eleven sections, and it gathers together the better part of two hundred short texts – many of them freshly translated by Copenhaver, a professor of philosophy at UCLA – starting with the Old Testament. He moves on to ancient Greece and Rome, and then, via the Middle Ages and the early modern period, to the first stirrings of the Enlightenment in the later 17th century with the likes of Newton’s furious rival and enemy, Leibniz. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Antonio Damasio's 'The Strange Order of Things' is a revolutionary view of the mind and its place in the world. Joh… ,
    • Terrifyingly I'm already at work (ha!) making the April issue. Feel like the March number came out but seconds ago.… ,
    • Charles I: King & Collector is until 15 April: Here's assistant editor Davi… ,
    • "Ivor Novello installed a mirrored bedroom in his apartment over the Strand Theatre ... with furniture veneered in… ,
    • Our 'footprints' series has writers talking about place and inspiration. This month it's Donald Rayfield on Dostoev… ,
    • RT : ‘Meticulously documented, full of drama … complex and compelling … this is a tale fluently told, and a thriller as… ,
    • There's still time to enter: win a brace of tickets to see the new West End production of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Hu… ,