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Chapitre D'ouvrage Année : 2013

The literary distortions of alchemy

Bernard Joly


The historian of science is often surprised by representations of alchemists found in novels in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These strange and fascinating characters, often endowed with supernatural powers, offer a very interesting description which do not seem to correspond to what the alchemists in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries really were. By drawing on three examples (The scarlet letter by Nathaliel Hawthorne, The angel at the western window by Gustav Meyrink and L’oeuvre au noir by Marguerite Yourcenar), I would like to analyse the causes and effects of these distortions which contributed to forge a modern and unreal image of alchemy.
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Dates et versions

hal-01567420 , version 1 (23-07-2017)


  • HAL Id : hal-01567420 , version 1


Bernard Joly. The literary distortions of alchemy. Margareth Hagen and Margery Vibe Skagen. Literature and Chemistry. Elective Affinities, Aarhus University Press, 2013, 978-87-7124-174-7. ⟨hal-01567420⟩
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