The Devil's Doctor: Paracelsus and the World of Renaissance Magic and Science

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Apr 18, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 448 pages

Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim, who called himself Paracelsus, stands at the cusp of medieval and modern times. A contemporary of Luther, an enemy of the medical establishment, a scourge of the universities, an alchemist, an army surgeon, and a radical theologian, he attracted myths even before he died. His fantastic journeys across Europe and beyond were said to be made on a magical white horse, and he was rumored to carry the elixir of life in the pommel of his great broadsword. His name was linked with Faust, who bargained with the devil.

Who was the man behind these stories? Some have accused him of being a charlatan, a windbag who filled his books with wild speculations and invented words. Others claim him as the father of modern medicine. Philip Ball exposes a more complex truth in The Devil's Doctor—one that emerges only by entering into Paracelsus's time. He explores the intellectual, political, and religious undercurrents of the sixteenth century and looks at how doctors really practiced, at how people traveled, and at how wars were fought. For Paracelsus was a product of an age of change and strife, of renaissance and reformation. And yet by uniting the diverse disciplines of medicine, biology, and alchemy, he assisted, almost in spite of himself, in the birth of science and the emergence of the age of rationalism.

"Ball produces a vibrant, original portrait of a man of contradictions:" - Publishers Weekly


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User Review  - Widsith - LibraryThing

My local hospital, in the little Swiss village where I now live, is called the Paracelsus Spital. He must be from round here, I thought – no one would name a hospital after a mad alchemist unless ... Read full review

THE DEVIL'S DOCTOR: Paracelsus and the World of Renaissance Magic and Science

User Review  - Kirkus

The life and times of Philip Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim, aka Paracelsus, the "father of modern medicine."Ball (Critical Mass, 2004, etc.) is interested more in the ideological milieu of the ... Read full review


Title Page
CHAPTER ONE Black Madonna
CHAPTER TWO The Metal Makers
CHAPTER THREE The Universal Scholar
CHAPTER FOUR The Staff and the Snake
CHAPTER FIVE Intellectual Vagabonds
CHAPTER SIX A New Religion
CHAPTER SEVEN Revolution Under the Sign
CHAPTER THIRTEEN The Alchemist Inside
CHAPTER FIFTEEN Star and Ascendant
CHAPTER SIXTEEN Demons of the Mind
CHAPTER TWENTY Philosophers Gold

CHAPTER EIGHT Transmutation at Ingolstadt
CHAPTER NINE Elixir and Quintessence
CHAPTER TEN Bitter Medicine
CHAPTER ELEVEN The Battle of Basle
CHAPTER TWELVE Against the Grain

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About the author (2006)

Philip Ball is the author of many books, including Life's Matrix (FSG, 2000), Bright Earth (FSG, 2002), Critical Mass (FSG, 2004), which won the Aventis Science Book Prize in 2005, and The Devil's Doctor (2006).

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