Anthony Grafton: Athanasius Kircher, 7 November 2013
Show More Egyptian Oedipus: Athanasius Kircher and the Secrets of Antiquity by Daniel Stolzenberg.
Chicago, 307 pp., £35, April 2013, 978 0 226 92414 4Show More
Exploring the Kingdom of Saturn: Kircher’s Latium and Its Legacy by Harry Evans.
Michigan, 236 pp., £63.50, July 2012, 978 0 472 11815 1Show More
“... Even in the middle years of the 17th century, when Athanasius Kircher’s career reached its peak, nobody knew exactly what to make of him. Descartes, who described him as ‘more charlatan than scholar’, classed his enormous erudite books among the many that he refused on principle to read. John Evelyn, visiting Rome in 1644, was impressed when ‘with Dutch patience, he showed us his perpetual motions, catoptrics, magnetical experiments, models, and a thousand other crotchets and devices ...”