Here we are at the 5th installment of the Magic Advent Calendar.
While leisurely walking through Basel, my home town, the display in front of an antique book shop caught my attention: they were selling the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1910/11 in 26 volumes individually for 5 Francs the volume (cost of 1 cup of coffee in Switzerland, 5 espressi in Italy…). So I immediately checked the entry «conjuring», and lo and behold, as in several other editions, there was an extensive essay on the subject.
I bought the copy for you (and me!), scanned the essay, and here it is for your perusal and collection. (BTW: It would be nice if at some point we got all entries from all the EB editions on «conjuring» – as you might know the EB had a new edition about every ten years, and each time the essays were penned by different experts).
The authors of the article are three: John Nevil Maskelyne (well-known), G. Faur (I have never heard of him), John Algernon Clarke (maybe Sidney Clarke’s father?). I haven’t researched Faur nor Clarke, so if you have any info, let me know.
Later articles are by John Mulholland and Ricky Jay, very interesting.
Also, it would be informative to see what other big encyclopedias wrote/write about «conjuring-magic» (Brockhaus in Germany, Larousse in France, Treccani in Italy, Spain??? etc.). If you live in one of these countries and are interested, you can find and send me the PDFs. Be aware that there might be various editions with various entries.
I find it enlightening to read definitions of magic by experts and laymen alike, as they reflect the understanding (or not-so-understanding) of the subject, how magic is perceived from inside and outside, and in different cultures, at different times. As far as I know this focus has not yet been discussed…much.
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