Prophecy, Alchemy and Strategies of Dissident Communication. A 1630 Letter from the Bohemian Chiliast Paul Felgenhauer (1593-c.1677) to the Leipzig Physician Arnold Kerner

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Abstract

This article concerns a short but significant letter of April 1630 from the Bohemian prophet, alchemist and theosopher Paul Felgenhauer (1593-c. 1677) to the Leipzig alchemist and physician Arnold Kerner. The letter is presented in transcription, with an annotated English translation. It is prefaced by an introduction incorporating a new biographical account of Felgenhauer, which draws on overlooked or unknown manuscript material preserved in Germany and England. The letter itself shines a rare light on a variety of different areas of interest concerning Felgenhauer's life and activities in the years prior to 1630. These areas include his immediate contacts and associates (such as with the Silesian prophet Christoph Kotter), interest and undertakings in alchemical experimentation, publishing and bibliographical activities, methods of communication, his circle of wider contacts and the nature and extent of broader interpersonal and epistolary networks in which he participated. However, it also illuminates tangential issues, such as the scale of social and informational economy in a heterodox correspondence network, the intricacies of dissident book production in the United Provinces, the history of trade in Leipzig, the role of commercial agents in facilitating contact between dissident personalities throughout the Holy Roman Empire, and the postal history of Bremen.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-132
Number of pages18
JournalActa Comeniana
Volume24
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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