I was so jazzed this morning when the office mail clerk dropped that package on my desk. And now I have The Book in my hot little hands!
It’s a long story.
My first dawning awareness of who Cornelius Agrippa was came in my teens, back in the mid seventies. That was when I read lots of those survey books, like Cavendish’s The Black Arts, and that encyclopedia Man, Myth and Magic. There was always sure to be a mention of Agrippa in any of those. And I knew he was from Cologne, and Cologne was one of my favorite cities in Germany. I spent time there with relatives during some formative years. And I’d climbed the bell tower of the famous cathedral. And at the age of thirteen I went on a tour of the ruins of the Roman governor’s palace. I found a loose stone in one of the walls that I pocketed and took home to West Virginia. My little piece of classical history sitting on my bookshelf.
In graduate school, I took a seminar on German Renaissance and Reformation literature. We each had to choose an influential writer of the period to write a seminar paper on. I asked the professor if I could write about Agrippa. He looked at me very strangely. He was an atheist. But he also knew he couldn’t deny that Agrippa was a major figure of the German Renaissance. I recall finding the particular edition of Occult Philosophy available at that time in the UCD library. It struck me then that everything I’d read about magic and the occult up to that point in my life was, in some way or other, contained in this book. I realized this was the source of much I’d read elsewhere.
Flash forward to my recent life. I’ve known for several years that I just need this book, and that a brilliant new edition was available. And I’d look on Amazon and Abebooks almost weekly, and wince at the cover price. When you’re a father of four, you can’t help thinking how many music lessons, or how many visits to the orthodontist, or how many bags of groceries the price of some desired item would get you.
And then one day I found a remaindered copy of the book being offered for four pounds Sterling. “Shit!”, I said to myself, “I can’t pass this up!” So I whipped out my credit card and ordered it then and there. Mind you, I paid more for shipping than for the book (it actually came from the USA), but it was still a fraction of the market price.
And then the waiting. I had it sent to my work place, because books and CDs from abroad have a terrible habit of disappearing in the Hungarian postal system. Postal employees are more reluctant to steal things sent to commerical recipients. But I’ve still had things stolen that were sent to my office.
The shipment was overdue. I waited. And waited. I was convinced it had been ripped off. I checked the shipping policies and decided that if it didn’t arrive by this Friday, I would notify the merchant that it hadn’t arrived. But I didn’t want my money back, I WANTED MY BOOK!
And just when I’d given up…
…it arrived this morning.
It was remaindered because it had been dropped. There’s a small dent at the top of the spine, and a few pages had been dog eared. Big deal. For the most part it is a new book in perfect condition.
And my first inspection leads me to conclude it’s a brilliant edition: biographical glossary, geographical glossary, several appendices, and copious annotation.
I’m in heaven.
Now there’s work to be done.