Lives of the Necromancers

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Lives of the Necromancers: or, An account of the Most Eminent Persons in Successive Ages, Who Have Claimed for Themselves, or to Whom Has Been Imputed by Others, the Exercise of Magical Power was the last book published by William Godwin (1756 - 1836) in 1834.

Godwin's stated purpose for writing this book was "to exhibit a fair delineation of the credulity of the human mind." He begins his survey with an account of ancient superstitions and ends it with the New England witch trials at the end of the seventeenth century.

Despite its title, is less a series of biographies than a study of the way the mind is deceived by the overwrought imagination and the desire for immortality.

The work has been described as a series of tales of sorcery culled from the Bible, the Ancient World, the Far East, and medieval Europe. One of the admirers of the book was Edgar Allan Poe.

Godwin was the husband of philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft and father of novelist Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.


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