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Posted December 26, 2010
After a brief historical overview of the life of Michel de Nostredame (1503-1566), Peter Lemesurier considers who the alleged mystic was and what he actually did during his lifetime, based on contemporary documentary evidence. In the process, Lemesurier debunks the linguistic misunderstandings, hearsay and falsehoods that have arisen about the man and his work.
Penned in 16th-century French and rendered cryptically under Virgilian influence, with many printing errors, Nostradamus's original writings are so obscure that they are all but inaccessible to the modern-day reader who has not studied them in great detail-small wonder that they are so commonly misunderstood and therefore misrepresented. Lemesurier has taken the effort out of such an exercise by listing the claims that have been made in relation to Nostradamus's writing alongside a note of the texts concerned, and then analyzing each of them in turn. The records relating to his doctoral qualifications are examined, which show that Nostradamus was simply an opportunistic apothecary living at the time of the Great Plague.
Lemesurier shows that Nostradamus was no more an astrologer than he was a doctor, with his incompetence on the former score being subject to much mudslinging from the full-blooded astrologers of his day. Nostradamus's Les Propheties (The Prophecies) is shown to be merely an anthology of known prophecies from the past, fittingly adapted to suit present and anticipated circumstances in the light of known historical events projected into the future. Instead, the divinatory method that Nostradamus actually used is shown as most likely being that of bibliomancy (the random selection of extracts from books chosen by chance). Part Two of Nostradamus, Bibliomancer discusses the random historical texts and sources Nostradamus himself chose as the bases for many of his prophecies. The English translation of the original text is done in as literalistic a way as possible for the benefit of those who prefer to get as close as possible to the original wording.
Nostradamus, Bibliomancer is well illustrated, and rounded off with several notes, a comprehensive bibliography, and a substantial index. The accompanying CD contains facsimiles of three original editions of the Propheties, plus a French reprint of the much later Dutch edition of 1668, Nostradamus's cookbooks, one of his annual Almanachs and Videl's critique of 1558. Peter Lemesurier, a former Cambridge linguist and professional translator, with a Cambridge MA in Modern and Mediaeval Languages, is widely regarded as the leading English-language expert on Nostradamus. He has written some ten books on Nostradamus, including the best-selling Nostradamus Encyclopedia of 1997, the authoritative The Unknown Nostradamus, and Nostradamus: The Illustrated Prophecies. He is also an established editor of the English, French and German Wikipedia articles on Nostradamus.