The Business of Alchemy: Science and Culture in the Holy Roman Empire

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $12.41
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 77%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (14) from $12.41   
  • New (8) from $41.85   
  • Used (6) from $12.41   

Overview

In The Business of Alchemy, Pamela Smith explores the relationships among alchemy, the court, and commerce in order to illuminate the cultural history of the Holy Roman Empire in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In showing how an overriding concern with religious salvation was transformed into a concentration on material increase and economic policies, Smith depicts the rise of modern science and early capitalism. In pursuing this narrative, she focuses on that ideal prey of the cultural historian, an intellectual of the second rank whose career and ideas typify those of a generation. Smith follows the career of Johann Joachim Becher (1635-1682) from university to court, his projects from New World colonies to an old-world Pansophic Panopticon, and his ideas from alchemy to economics. Teasing out the many meanings of alchemy for Becher and his contemporaries, she argues that it provided Becher with not only a direct key to power over nature but also a language by which he could convince his princely patrons that their power too must rest on liquid wealth.

Agrarian society regarded merchants with suspicion as the nonproductive exploiters of others' labor; however, territorial princes turned to commerce for revenue as the cost of maintaining the state increased. Placing Becher's career in its social and intellectual context, Smith shows how he attempted to help his patrons assimilate commercial values into noble court culture and to understand the production of surplus capital as natural and legitimate. With emphasis on the practices of natural philosophy and extensive use of archival materials, Smith brings alive the moment of cultural transformation in which science and the modern state emerged.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Parergon - Lyndy Abraham
Smith has written an incisive and intelligent study which, together with affording a wealth of fascinating archival material, provides an original and well researched overview of the rise of early capitalism and modern science. Most importantly, she has given us an insight into one of the roles of alchemy in the workings of the Holy Roman Empire in the seventeenth century.
London Review of Books - Simon Schaffer
A fine study of the relation between alchemy and commerce in the German-speaking lands of the later seventeenth century. . . .
American Historical Review - Margaret C. Jacob
Spirited and fascinating. . . . This blending of the modern with the traditional, this seamless knitting of commerce with princely extravagance, alchemy with science, commerce, and industry, stands as the major achievement of Smith's portrait of intellectual life in the late-seventeenth-century Hapsburg territories.
From the Publisher

Winner of the 1995 Pfizer Most Outstanding Book Award, History of Science Society

"Smith has written an incisive and intelligent study which, together with affording a wealth of fascinating archival material, provides an original and well researched overview of the rise of early capitalism and modern science. Most importantly, she has given us an insight into one of the roles of alchemy in the workings of the Holy Roman Empire in the seventeenth century."--Lyndy Abraham, Parergon

"A fine study of the relation between alchemy and commerce in the German-speaking lands of the later seventeenth century. . . . "--Simon Schaffer, London Review of Books

"Spirited and fascinating. . . . This blending of the modern with the traditional, this seamless knitting of commerce with princely extravagance, alchemy with science, commerce, and industry, stands as the major achievement of Smith's portrait of intellectual life in the late-seventeenth-century Hapsburg territories."--Margaret C. Jacob, American Historical Review

Parergon
Smith has written an incisive and intelligent study which, together with affording a wealth of fascinating archival material, provides an original and well researched overview of the rise of early capitalism and modern science. Most importantly, she has given us an insight into one of the roles of alchemy in the workings of the Holy Roman Empire in the seventeenth century.
— Lyndy Abraham
London Review of Books
A fine study of the relation between alchemy and commerce in the German-speaking lands of the later seventeenth century. . . .
— Simon Schaffer
American Historical Review
Spirited and fascinating. . . . This blending of the modern with the traditional, this seamless knitting of commerce with princely extravagance, alchemy with science, commerce, and industry, stands as the major achievement of Smith's portrait of intellectual life in the late-seventeenth-century Hapsburg territories.
— Margaret C. Jacob
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691015996
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 5/5/1997
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,003,319
  • Product dimensions: 6.11 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Prologue
Evocation 3
1 Provenances 14
2 Oeconomia rerum et verborum: Constructing a Political Space in the Holy Roman Empire 56
3 The Commerce of Words: An Exchange of Credit at the Court of the Elector in Munich 93
West Indian Interlude 141
4 The Production of Things: A Transmutation at the Habsburg Court 173
Interlude in the Laboratory 228
5 Between Words and Things: The Commerce of Scholars and the Promise of Ars 247
Epilogue: Projection 272
Biography 279
Index 303
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)